Gushue completes comeback to clinch Boost National playoff spot (GSOC)

(by Jonathan Brazeau)

CONCEPTION BAY SOUTH, N.L. — Brad Gushue completed a 7-6 comeback victory in an extra end Thursday over Team Ross Paterson to clinch a playoff spot in the Boost National at CBS Arena.

Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Geoff Walker and Brett Gallant celebrate after their 7-6 extra-end victory over Team Paterson at the Boost National on Dec. 12, 2019, in Conception Bay South, N.L. (Anil Mungal)

Gushue, from nearby St. John’s, N.L., trailed 4-0 after two ends and 5-2 after four when his team rallied with a three-ender in five to tie it up. The 11-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title winner Gushue stole one in the seventh and Paterson could only count a single in the eighth to force OT.

The crowd cheered for the local favourites after Gushue connected on the open hit with his last of the extra.

“It was pretty cool,” Team Gushue lead Geoff Walker said. “Some memories of the (2017) Brier when we were here last time with all of the roars we were getting but we caught a lot of breaks. Ross had a couple that missed by a couple of inches and we would have been dead early if a couple of those go his way.”

Team Gushue remain undefeated at 3-0 and secured a spot for Saturday’s quarterfinals with one round-robin game on hand Friday evening against Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe.

It’s a much different story from a year ago here where Team Gushue struggled during pool play and needed a tiebreaker to qualify.

“It’s always nice when you can avoid tiebreakers and go straight into the quarters,” Walker said. “That’s nice to know we’ll be playing in it but we still have a big game tomorrow. We don’t want to take Koe too lightly and get on the wrong track. We want to come out and play a good game against them and hopefully, get the win and knock them in the tiebreakers. Let them play one more.”

The defending champions Team Paterson, from Scotland, sustained their first loss to move to a 2-1 record.

Elsewhere in Draw 8, Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher moved up to a 2-0 record rolling out to an 8-2 win over Japan’s Team Yuta Matsumura (1-2).

Brad Jacobs of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., picked up their second consecutive win defeating Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin 4-2. Both teams now hold matching 2-1 records.

Team Jacobs also defeated Team Yannick Schwaller 5-1 during the morning draw and third Marc Kennedy said it was big to go 2-for-2 on the day.

“We had a tough first game against Bottcher but we’ve regrouped pretty well,” Kennedy said. “We battled some challenging ice conditions but managed to make some big shots later in the game. Always good to beat those guys, they’re tough, so 2-1, looking good.”

Jacobs took a 2-1 lead with a deuce in the second and led 3-2 at the fourth-end break. Edin, who recently captured his seventh European Championship, went into defensive mode blanking three consecutive ends to retain the hammer coming home.

“It was a little dicey but that was the ice conditions dictating the way the game was being played,” Kennedy said. “We were happy being up one coming home but Oskar (Eriksson) made a great shot to give them a chance for a deuce. We were a little bit fortunate but you’re going to need some breaks against these top teams.”

It was not to be for Team Edin as Jacobs tapped off one of his own and in with his last rock to sit first and second stone. Time was running out as Edin fired his final shot with an opportunity for two, however, it didn’t curl enough and only nudged the counter as Jacobs tacked on single steal onto the board to hold on.

“Brad made a great shot on his last one to make it tough on Nik,” Kennedy said. “You don’t always win them but when you do you’re pretty happy.”

Team Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene picked up a crucial first win of the tournament edging Toronto’s Team John Epping 4-3 in an all-Ontario matchup. Both teams have identical 1-2 records.

In the lone women’s game on the draw, Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg clipped Team Robyn Silvernagle of North Battleford, Sask., 4-3 in an extra end. Hasselborg got back on track to a 2-1 record while Silvernagle slipped to 1-2.

Team Hasselborg is carrying momentum after two big wins last month capturing their third GSOC title at the KIOTI Tractor Tour Challenge in Pictou County, N.S., and successfully defending the European Championship on home ice.

“We are very excited to be back at the Slams but obviously, we had a long tour heading into the Europeans,” Hasselborg said. “The Europeans was also, I don’t want to say exhausting, but after a big win it’s sometimes hard to refuel. We’re trying to have a lot of fun here and just be in every shot and every game and try to get better every game.”

Hasselborg had a shot to put the game away in the eighth end — up by a point and holding last-rock advantage — but gave up a steal to send things into the extra end. The reigning Olympic gold medallist fared better with the do-over.

“It was a perfect setup in the eighth, I just overthrew my last a little bit,” Hasselborg said. “I thought the track was going to be a little bit heavier but otherwise it was a good game. It felt like we had good control in the extra. The girls played very well and a nice triple from (second) Agnes (Knochenhauer).”

Action continued at 8:30 p.m. local time (8 p.m. AT). Click for Draw 9 recap.

Boost National action continues Friday for the final day of round-robin play at 8:30 a.m. Atlantic time. Broadcast coverage resumes at 12:30 p.m. local time (12 noon AT) on Sportsnet with online streaming via Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

The top eight teams overall in both divisions qualify for the weekend playoffs.

NOTES: The Boost National is the third event and second major of the 2019-20 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season featuring 15 of the top men’s teams and 15 of the top women’s teams from around the world. Qualification is based on the WCF World Team Ranking system. … A $300,000 combined purse is on the line, split equally between both divisions, with the winners receiving $35,000 each plus berths to the season-ending Humpty’s Champions Cup in Olds, Alta. … Teams also earn points towards the Pinty’s Cup awarded to the season champions following the conclusion of the Players’ Championship in April.

Click to read this story at The Grand Slam of Curling website.

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