Brad Gushue’s shorthanded Wild Card One team delivered one of their best Tim Hortons Brier performances on Sunday afternoon to secure a spot in the championship final against Alberta’s Kevin Koe.
Throwing an impressive 95% overall despite being down to three men, Gushue won a 9-3 semi-final against Canadian Brendan Bottcher.
Gushue had a hit for three in the seventh end and sealed the victory by stealing a pair in the eighth.
“I’m on vapors right now,” Gushue said. “Like I said all week, I felt tired. Now I find just enough [strength]. We have one game left. There’s enough energy that we’ll go play a game and give 110 per cent.”
Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker won Olympic bronze last month in Beijing. They went 8-0 in the round robin at the Enmax Center and have gone 2-1 since Nichols pulled out of the event after testing positive for COVID-19.
Final brier baby!! 🔥🔥🔥
I am more than proud of this team. They each stepped up in every way possible. This year/event was the biggest roller coaster I have ever been on. And it’s not finished yet !
We have one game left.
See you tonight ! ❤️🥌❤️@TeamGushue
Calgary’s Koe will be looking for a record fifth career Brier title as captain. His lineup includes BJ Neufeld, John Morris and Ben Hebert. Gushue, meanwhile, will be looking to win a fourth national title in the past six years.
Koe, who lost last year’s final in the Calgary bubble, beat Bottcher in Page’s 1-2 playoff game on Saturday night to secure a direct spot in the final. Gushue defeated Saskatchewan’s Colton Flasch in the Page playoffs 3-4.
Gushue tied under a center guard in the fourth end to force Bottcher to single for a 2-1 lead. Bottcher went wide with a comeback in the fifth end to give Gushue a three-point tie.
“I was a little surprised at Brendan’s strategy in letting us stay close early,” Gushue said. “Fortunately for us, he was the one who blinked at the start of the game and allowed a three.”
Canada’s captain took a bad break in the sixth end when his stone picked up, but he followed with a double out to save a single.
Bottcher was light with his last shot in the seventh and Gushue took advantage for another three innings.
The Canadian team shot 79 percent overall.
The Brier champions will earn $108,000 of the $300,000 total purse for the 18-team event. The second-place team will receive $60,000 and Bottcher’s rink claimed $40,000.
The winner will also represent Canada at the World Men’s Curling Championship from April 2-10.
Kerri Einarson won her third straight Scotties Tournament of Hearts title last month. She will wear the maple leaf at the world women’s curling championship March 19-27 in Prince George, British Columbia.
The 2023 Brier will be played at Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario.
WATCH l The Canadian wheelchair curling team after their battle for bronze: