ST. JOHN’S, N.L. – Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador defeated Canada’s Kevin Koe 7-6 on Sunday night to win the Tim Hortons Brier for the first time.
Newfoundland and Labrador’s Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker, left to right, hold the Brier Tankard after defeating Team Canada 7-6 to win the Tim Hortons Brier curling championship at Mile One Centre in St. John’s on Sunday, March 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Gushue threw his broom in the air in celebration when his stone moved into the eight-foot ring and just past the Canada rock for the victory.
This was Gushue’s 14th career appearance at the Brier. The 2006 Olympic champion lost in last year’s final to Koe and fell to Ontario’s Glenn Howard in the 2007 final.
Gushue is the first Newfoundlander to hoist the Brier Tankard since Jack MacDuff in 1976 while second Brett Gallant becomes the first Prince Edward Island native to win the Brier.
After an opening blank, the local favourites took advantage after Canada second Brent Laing flashed a stone. With Newfoundland and Labrador sitting three, Koe took one opposition stone out with his last throw but Gushue followed with a draw for a 3-0 lead.
The St. John’s side battled some injuries throughout the competition. Gushue has been somewhat limited all season due to a hip/groin issue and lead Geoff Walker is nursing a shoulder injury.
Newfoundland and Labrador vice-skip Mark Nichols frequently helped Walker and Gallant with sweeping duties. Nichols was also in form with his shooting, delivering a nice double takeout to force Koe to settle for a blank in the third end.
Koe rubbed a guard with his final throw but still scored one in the fourth. Gushue had a draw for a pair in the fifth and his St. John’s rink took a 5-1 lead into the break.
The electric atmosphere in the 6,000-seat venue was muted somewhat after Koe’s triple takeout in the sixth end made it a one-point game. Gushue attempted a double takeout in the seventh but a Canada stone caught just enough of the eight-foot for a steal.
Koe forced Gushue to hit a takeout for a single in the eighth end. In the ninth, Gushue picked out a Canada stone to lay three and forced Koe to draw for one.
This was the first time the national men’s curling championship has been played in St. John’s since 1972. A sellout crowd of 6,471 watched the final to push overall attendance to 122,592.
Gushue will represent Canada at the world men’s curling championship in Edmonton April 1-9.