Brier about to get rocky for Brad Gushue
Not only is curling a slippery game, it can also be treacherous.
Just ask Brad Gushue of Newfoundland.
Still undefeated going into Wednesday night’s draw, plenty of treachery lay ahead for the 2006 Olympic gold medallist.
Looming on the horizon was Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton, the first of four former Brier champions Gushue needs to claw by to nail down a playoff spot.
Stoughton, 6-1, was not about to lay down the red carpet, handing Gushue his first loss of the Tim Hortons Brier and moving a half-game back of second place.
“He was pretty hooped in that end,” said Stoughton about the four-ender in eight that paved the way to a 9-5 win. “We got fortunate. Jon (third Mead) made two beauties. We took advantage of it.
“We still have to win a few more games to guarantee us something. We’ve got a good shot at that 1-2 game but we’re still a few wins away.”
Gushue, 7-1, has drawn the most difficult closing two days among the contenders and knows he’ll have to stay sharp.
Ontario’s Glenn Howard, a desperate Kevin Martin of Alberta and Jean-Michel Menard of Quebec are next up.
“It gets a little bit tougher but, you know what, if we continue to play this way, we’re going to win as many against them as they win against us,” said Gushue. “I like our chances.”
Common wisdom says that eight wins gets you a Brier playoff spot. Gushue knows that means he needs one more win to erase the memory of a sub-par 2012 Brier.
“I can’t imagine eight not getting in,” said Gushue. “If we can get to eight, we’re good. We want to look at that 1-2 game. We can’t really look at the block of teams because if you do, you’re going to be a little bit freaked out.”
At 7-0, defending Brier and world champ Glenn Howard remains the only undefeated foursome.
“The best thing is the second number stays at zero,” said Howard, who’s riding a 17-game Brier win streak. “It’s been a pretty good run. We’ve obviously had a lot of games in between, but what I really like is how the guys are making everything in front of me. It just makes my life so much simpler.”
Howard faces Gushue and Menard Thursday.
“If we come out average, we won’t win either one of them,” said Howard. “As long as we keep playing the way we are, we have a chance.”
One thing’s for sure. The winner of this afternoon’s Howard/Gushue tilt claims the first playoff spot.
Brad Jacobs of Northern Ontario snapped a two-game losing streak with a scrappy win over Menard.
“We did not want to lose another game — 100% it would have been a shame after the (4-0) start we had,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs and Menard both finished their day at 5-2.