Brad Gushue successfully defended his Canadian men’s curling championship Sunday with a 7-5 victory over Manitoba’s Matt Dunstone in London, Ont.
Championship on the line and a chance to tie for the win. This was Gushue’s wheelhouse and he delivered again when it counted most.
With Manitoba sitting by two in the 10th end, Gushue pulled the ring to within four feet with his final shot to win his fifth Tim Hortons Brier title in seven years.
“I trusted it. We did it. It’s awesome,” Gushue said.
Dunstone gave up three runs in the eighth end — the first multi-point end of the game — but responded with a two-run run in the ninth.
He hit a rock with his final shot at the 10th to put pressure on his opponent. But as he did in his first Brier win in 2017 at home in St. John’s, Gushue passed.
“I thought I nailed it, and the guys judged it great,” he said. “You just have to trust 25 or 30 years of work that you put in.”
WATCHES | Gushue beats Dunstone in Brier final:
There were some nerves, however, as Gushue settled into the hack at Budweiser Gardens. He lost the draw in the sixth end and was heavy with both shots in the seventh.
“I was just trying not to tip it over,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I was being called 100 percent, so it made it a little more nerve-wracking.”
The 2017 game winner needed a long sweep to get to eight feet. This time, lead Geoff Walker and second EJ Harnden rubbed it over the first half of the sheet before cleaning it up the rest of the way.
“I’ve had a chance to watch it a few times,” Gushue deputy Mark Nichols said. “I never get bored of it.”
Dunston, hands in his pockets, could only stand and watch the rock sit by the button.
“We were down and out after the eighth end and we made him throw a tough shot to win the Brier,” he said. “It just speaks volumes for this team.”
With the win, Gushue becomes the first skip to win five Brier titles.
VICTORY WALK@TeamGushue with their signature stop at center ice to thank the fans ❤️ #Brier2023 pic.twitter.com/CWPFhjxZDC< /a>
Colleen Jones and CBC Sports reporter Devin Heroux take you behind the scenes of the celebration at This Curling Show.
The defending champions started the game with the hammer, but Team Manitoba applied early pressure. Gushue did well to run the opener but Dunstone sat three in the second end to force a draw.
Each team forced the other over the next three ends with some strong shooting.
Second-place Colton Lott of Manitoba and third-place BJ Neufeld made minor mistakes in the sixth end. But a freeze by Dunstone kept Gushue at one as the veteran skip was heavy with his second shot.
Canada’s big finish was set up when Lott dropped a rock and Neufeld rubbed a rock in an attempt to freeze. Dunstone’s hit-and-roll attempt missed the mark and Gushue made him pay with a hit and a stick.
“It looked like a little bit of an eyelash was going to lose that game,” Gushue said. “Fortunately for us, we took it from them in the eighth end and just held on. But man oh man, they played so hard.”
Dunstone reached the title game earlier in the day with a 7-5 win over Wild Card 1’s Brendan Botcher.
Dunstone applied pressure at the 10th end of the semi-final, pulling around two stones to sit on the side of the button. Botcher’s draw at the other end was light, giving Manitoba a steal of two and the win.
“We’re tough. We’re tenacious. We never back down,” Dunstone said.
Gushue beat Kevin Koe in last year’s final in Lethbridge, Alta.
His team will represent Canada at the world men’s curling championships April 1-9 in Ottawa.
Harden, who won gold in the 2014 Olympics with Brad Jacobs, joined the Gushue team in the offseason. Gushue won previous Brier titles with Nichols, Walker and Brett Gallant, who now plays with Bottcher.
“I have friends who say, ‘I can’t believe you won three Briers.’ [Then it’s] four, now suddenly five,” Walker said. “It’s hard to believe.”
Selfie Championship #Brier2023 pic.twitter.com/f6AqlF3wFt
Randy Ferbey is the all-time leader with six career Brier titles [four as a skip]. Gushue has won the most national crowns as a skip ahead of Ferbey, Ernie Richardson, Kevin Koe and Kevin Martin.
Dunstone is the current leader in the Canadian men’s team rankings. Bottcher is right back in second and Gushue is third.
It was announced that the attendance for the final was 6,562 to bring the total to 95,338. The venue accommodates 9,090 places for curling.
This was the last Brier with Tim Hortons as the title sponsor. The 2024 event, which does not yet have a title sponsor, will be held in Regina.
Kerri Einarson won the Canadian women’s curling championship last month in Kamloops, BC
Her Manitoba-based team will wear the Maple Leaf at the world women’s curling championship March 18-26 in Sandviken, Sweden.