Canada finishes seventh in home rugby 7s tournament; England beats SA in final
VANCOUVER — The Canadian men's rugby sevens team walked off the pitch as celebrated heroes after finishing ninth at their inaugural home tournament last year.
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
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.
After a back-and-forth affair, Gushue had hammer in the 10th end and used it to his advantage. He hit a draw for the single point to send the raucous capacity crowd at Mile One Centre into a tizzy.
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.
Koe was looking for his fourth career Brier crown. He also won in 2010 and 2014.
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.
Earlier in the day, Manitoba's Mike McEwen defeated Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs 7-5 in an extra end to win bronze.
McEwen used his final throw to hit the Northern Ontario stone off the button for the win.
“As much as we were hurting pretty bad and weren't playing for the colour of medal we wanted to be playing for, we still gave it our all and it mattered,” McEwen said.
McEwen, who lost the semifinal to Koe on Saturday, gave up a steal of one to Jacobs in the fourth end. The Manitoba skip reclaimed the lead with a takeout for two in the fifth.
Jacobs played a tap in the sixth to give up a steal of one as Manitoba moved ahead 4-2. A Northern Ontario hit gave Jacobs a pair in the eighth to tie the game.
McEwen drew for one in the ninth and threw a double takeout in the 10th with his last stone. Jacobs drew the eight-foot to force an extra end.
The afternoon showdown was a rematch of last year's bronze-medal game. Jacobs defeated McEwen 7-6 in an extra end in Ottawa.
Koe and his team of Laing, lead Ben Hebert and third Marc Kennedy defeated Gushue 9-5 in last year's gold-medal game.
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.
The team also receives a base payout of $71,000 in prize money, cresting and funding. A minimum of $30,000 will also be awarded for additional cresting and promotional appearances and Sport Canada will award funding of $144,000 over two years.
Koe's team earns $45,000 in prize money for winning silver. The McEwen team gets $35,000 and the Jacobs rink receives $25,000.
Gushue can secure a berth in the Dec. 2-10 Olympic Trials in Ottawa if he reaches the podium at the world championship. Koe has already locked up a spot at the Trials.
Ottawa's Rachel Homan won the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last month in St. Catharines, Ont. Her team will represent Canada at the women's world championship March 18-26 in Beijing.
Gallant, 27, won the 2009 Canadian junior championship with Adam Casey, Anson Carmody and Jamie Danbrook and skipped P.E.I. to a bronze medal at the 2007 Canada Games with Carmody, Casey and Alex MacFadyen.