Top News

Gushue drops Olympic Trials opener to Epping

Brad Gushue delivers a rock during his first game against John Epping at the 2017 Roar of the Rings Canadian Olympic Curling Trials Saturday night in Ottawa.
Brad Gushue delivers a rock during his first game against John Epping at the 2017 Roar of the Rings Canadian Olympic Curling Trials Saturday night in Ottawa.

OTTAWA - If you subscribe to the theory that the glass is half empty, consider this: Brad Gushue, who carried a 32-5 record into these Roar of the Rings, the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials, has now dropped three games in a row.

Gushue and Co. lost Saturday night to, of all people, John Epping (with all due respect to the Toronto curler, he’s never really won anything) in the first game of probably the biggest bonspiel on the Canadian curling calendar this season.

Quick, bench Mark Nichols. Bring in the fifth man, chap by the name of Tom Sallows.

Now, if you believe that same glass is half full, remember this: Gushue, Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker didn’t exactly set the world on fire to open Tim Hortons Brier last spring. He started 3-2 in St. John’s last March, but one of those wins was only by one point over New Brunswick, and one of the losses came to, yup, the Northwest Territories.

And we all know how things turned out.

It was only Game 1 of the Trials, but the Gushue foursome weren’t at their best Saturday at the Canadian Tire Centre, scrambling through much of the game despite holding a one-point lead after five ends.

That came as a result of a steal of two in the fifth, the only deuce Gushue would pick up all evening.

“We never got anything set up with hammer,” he said afterwards, “never had a chance at a deuce the whole game.”

Despite it all, however, Gushue was in a position to win it, down by one point but holding last shot in the 10th end.

And that’s when things really got messy.

Gushue had a shot at winning on last rock, but his attempt at a raise to the button in a crowded house came up just short.

“I probably threw it a little too hard … maybe a hair hard,” he told reporters. “I’m more disappointed in the rest of the end, to see five missed shots come before I had to throw.

“We never had a chance for two, not even a sniff. Halfway through the end, we’re just trying to score to go to an extra end where our odds are, at best, maybe one in 10.

“We have to figure out what happened there. I’m shocked and mind blown with how we imploded in the 10th.”

Gushue had the fewest losses this season – five - of any of the nine teams entering the Trials, but two of those came back-to-back to John Morris and Mike McEwen in the team’s most recent World Curling Tour event, the Boost National last month in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.

After blanking the first end, Gushue picked up one on the second, but Epping responded with three in the third end. Gushue then scored one in the fourth before the steal of two in the fifth.

Epping counted one in the sixth and then stole one in the seventh before closing out with a steal of one on the 10th when Gushue’s last attempt failed.

Gushue is right back at it 3:30 p.m. Sunday (NL time) against Brendan Bottcher of Alberta.

 

rshort@thetelegram.com

Recent Stories