Bottcher bet­ters Gushue in Cana­dian Open semi­fi­nal

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - SPORTS -

Brad Gushue and his St. John’s rink cleared a big hur­dle Satur­day af­ter­noon, but couldn’t quite get over an­other one that same night.

Bren­dan Bottcher of Ed­mon­ton made a last-rock draw through a port to just barely score two points in the eighth and fi­nal end to edge Gushue 6-5 in the semi­fi­nal of the Merid­ian Cana­dian Open Satur­day night in North Battleford, Sask. The game came just hours after both had claimed quar­ter-fi­nal vic­to­ries, with Gushue’s com­ing against vet­eran Glenn Howard of On­tario.

Be­fore the quar­ter-fi­nal round, Gushue had been 0-4 against the Howard rink this curl­ing sea­son, in­clud­ing once when Glenn Howard was unavail­able and his son, Scott, the team’s third, took over for a bon­spiel in Hal­i­fax.

Howard had also de­feated Gushue in the open­ing draw of the Open, the fifth Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curl­ing event of 201819. But Gushue and team­mates Mark Nichols, Brett Gal­lant and Ge­off Walker pro­ceeded to rat­tle off three straight wins to ad­vance to the play­offs of the triple knock­out event, then fi­nally van­quished Howard by a 6-2 score.

The semi­fi­nal was a re­match of last year’s Brier fi­nal, where Gushue bested Bottcher for a sec­ond straight Cana­dian men’s crown. And it was a close one, with both teams, and both skips, curl­ing at 86 per cent.

Gushue had the only steal — a sin­gle point in the fifth end — but it wasn’t enough to over­come a Bottcher team that opened with last-rock ad­van­tage and scored a pair of two-en­ders.

Be­fore that, Gushue hadn’t given up two points in a sin­gle end since the open­ing loss to Howard.

In fact, the six points al­lowed by the Brier champs were the most they had sur­ren­dered in the en­tire event.

Be­fore that, they had only al­lowed a to­tal of 15 points in five games, or an av­er­age of a minis­cule three points per game.

Bottcher, fin­ished off a per­fect week North Battleford, de­feat­ing Toronto’s John Ep­ping 6-3 in Sun­day’s fi­nal.

The Bottcher rink went 6-0 in North Battleford.

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