But unlike the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings semi-final in Ottawa, it was Gushue coming out on top, with Team Canada (St. John’s) defeating Team Wild Card (Winnipeg) 7-5.
The victory leaves Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant, lead Geoff Walker, alternate Tom Sallow and coach Jules Owchar the only undefeated team in Pool A at 4-0. McEwen, third B.J. Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak, lead Denni Neufeld and coach Chris Neufeld are 3-1.
“It feels great. Obviously it was a big win. You know Mike’s going to be around at the end of the week, so any time you can get two games up – we would have to lose two for him to jump ahead of us now – yeah, it’s a big win,” said Gushue.
In the trials semi, McEwen curled the lights out at the Canadian Tire Centre to advance to the final, where his team lost on a last-rock shot that sent the Kevin Koe’s Calgary crew to the 2018 Olympics. The tables were turned Monday night with Gushue outcurling McEwen 89 to 78 per cent.
“Mike’s played us really well over the years, and you can see he’s got a better record against us than we do against him, and by a fair margin, so he gets up for us and we know that, so we have to be sharp,” said Gushue. “The good thing is it’s hard to replicate as good as he was the last week of the trials. He didn’t miss. He missed one half shot in the sixth end of the final, and that was it, otherwise he would have been in Korea.
“He was a little less than that tonight. He had a couple of misses, but a lot of that was because we put a lot of pressure on him and gave him tough shots.”
Earlier in the day, McEwen describe Monday night’s game as a “big boy battle.”
“They were a good version of themselves, and we weren’t as good as we could be and that’s not going to be good enough to beat Brad,” said McEwen. “We made a couple of calls that probably could have forced the issue a bit more. It’s tough. You’re playing a good team that’s starting with hammer, there’s not much room for error.”
Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher (Edmonton) remained in the hunt for top spot in the pool by taking out Greg Smith (1-3) of Newfoundland/Labrador (St. John’s) 9-2 to improve to 3-1 along with Team Wild Card. Alberta has won three in a row following an opening-draw loss to Nova Scotia’s Jamie Murphy on Saturday.
“It’s a long week. We get just keep battling, getting better and better every game. I think we’re getting more comfortable. We had a great game tonight and we’ll keep plugging away,” said Alberta lead Karrick Martin. “The play in general is going to get better throughout the week and we’ve got to keep raising our game just like everybody else. We’re definitely doing it so far, and we’ll be looking to keep it going.”
Murphy, meanwhile, dropped to 2-2 and a tie for the fourth and final Championship Pool playoff spot with Jamie Koe of the Northwest Territories after the Yellowknife team defeated the Halifax squad 7-3.
In a battle of 0-3 teams, rookie Yukon (Whitehorse) skip Thomas Scoffin, 23, won his first Tim Horton Brier game by defeating Sean Geall of British Columbia (0-4; Kelowna) 8-2.Team Jacobs, cap-less Carruthers 4-0 at Tim Hortons Brier
Team Jacobs, cap-less Carruthers 4-0 at Tim Hortons Brier
REGINA – With a wall of adversity in the past, Brad Jacobs and his Northern Ontario team are rolling along in the present at the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by Mosaic.
The Sault Ste. Marie squad had to battle back from a poor start at the Northern Ontario playdowns just to get to the region’s final. They then had to steal the final two ends to secure victory. But after downing James Grattan of New Brunswick (1-3; Oromocto) 9-4 Monday, Jacobs is 4-0, along with Reid Carruthers of Manitoba (West St. Paul), in Pool B round-robin play.
“I do think our provincial championship, and how tough and gruelling it was, how we had to come through tiebreakers and semifinals to win that championship, it prepared us very well for the Brier,” said Jacobs, who is supported by third Ryan Fry, second E.J. Harnden, lead Ryan Harnden, alternate Tanner Horgan and coach Caleb Flaxey.
“We’re throwing the rock well. I like what I’m seeing from the three guys in front of me, so I’m happy with where we’re at.”
Northern Ontario will battle Saskatchewan Tuesday morning and Quebec in the evening before taking on Manitoba in its final Pool B game Wednesday afternoon. Jacobs likes the new Tim Hortons Brier format where during the preliminary pool teams play every second draw.
“It’s really good for recharging, relaxing and coming out sharp for the next game. It really beats the old draw where you could play four games in a row and that was really gruelling. It’s really nice,” said Jacobs.
Carruthers, third Braeden Moskowy, second Derek Samalgaski, lead Colin Hodgson and coach Dan Carey, stuck with Jacobs atop the standings by downing Quebec’s Mike Fournier (1-3; Dollard-des-Ormeaux) 9-6. Carruthers didn’t lose the game but he did lose his omnipresent cap.
“I’m changing it up a bit. I’m not going to wear a hat for the rest of my life on the ice. It was probably one of my better games. The guys said I’m a little more aerodynamic this game,” said Carruthers, who added future determinations of whether or not to wear the cap will be “game-time decisions.”
“I kept trying to compete with (lead Colin Hodgson) for the nicest hair and it wasn’t working, It was a little cool on the head, though. Might have to wear one of those little, thin tuques.”
In other action, Ontario scored early and often. Very often. The Toronto team skipped by John Epping blew out winless Nunavut (0-4; Iqaluit), skipped by David St. Louis, 14-3. The win enabled Ontario to keep pace with Manitoba and Northern Ontario at 3-1, and sit alone in third place.
With four teams advancing to the Championship Pool, Epping’s chances are looking good considering he is two losses clear of the teams in fifth. But Ontario still has Manitoba and fourth-place Saskatchewan on its eight-team Pool B round-robin dance card.
“Our goal is just to get through into the championship round. Ideally, we would love to go 5-2. We think that would be awesome and give us ourselves a good chance of going into the championship pool, but we just want to get there first,” said Epping. “I feel that by the end of the week, if you want to be in the playoffs, you’ve probably got to be 8-3.”
Eddie MacKenzie (Michael Burns photo)
Steve Laycock’s Saskatchewan (Saskatoon) squad is in possession of the fourth and final Championship Pool playoff spot at 2-2 after edging Eddie MacKenzie of Prince Edward Island (1-3; Charlottetown) 7-6 in an extra end. Fourth-rock shooter Matt Dunstone delivered a nervy hit-and-stick with his final stone to pick up the win.
The 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, presented by Mosaic, continues with draws Tuesday at 9 a.m., 2 p.m., and 7 p.m.
Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier are available at www.curling.ca/scoreboard/
TSN and RDS2 (streamed on ESPN3 in the United States) will provide complete coverage of the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier. Go to www.tsn.ca/2017-18-curling-broadcast-schedule-1.593081 for the complete schedule.
For ticket information for the 2018 Tim Hortons Brier, go to www.curling.ca/2018brier/tickets/