Canada’s Brad Gushue falls 9-3 to Scotland’s Bruce Mouat in world men’s curling final
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OTTAWA – There was no elation in front of a home crowd for Canada’s Brad Gushue this time around.
Drama was minimized Sunday at TD Place as his team’s attempt to follow a national curling crown with a world title was snuffed out in emphatic fashion.
Scotland’s Bruce Mouat was in full control in a 9-3 win that sent him to the top of the world men’s podium for the first time and extended Canada’s golden drought for another year.
“We brought our A-plus game,” Mouat said. “I don’t think we’ve played many better games than that.”
Mouat started with hammer and scored a deuce in the second end. He added two more points on a steal in the third and never relinquished the lead.
“It was clinical,” said Canada vice Mark Nichols. “They made everything but we didn’t put any pressure on them.”
Gushue, Nichols, second E.J. Harnden and lead Geoff Walker looked set to follow the playbook that worked for them at the Brier.
Just like a few weeks ago in London, Ont., a few round-robin hiccups seemed to be forgotten come playoff time.
Gushue appeared primed to peak again when it mattered most, eliminating defending champ Niklas Edin of Sweden before downing top seed Yannick Schwaller of Switzerland in the semifinal.
But Mouat never let Canada get a sniff. He took the crowd out of it early by delivering a near-flawless performance.
“Even if we did play our best, them having the hammer starting out and then playing the way that they played, it probably wasn’t going to be enough anyway,” Gushue said.
“But I would have liked to have pushed it a little bit more (to) find out.”
An early four-point deficit put Canada into chase mode.
With Bobby Lammie and Hammy McMillan in form on the front end and Grant Hardie and Mouat delivering on the back, the Scots refused to ease the pressure.
“They were comfortable the whole time” said Canada coach Caleb Flaxey. “We didn’t make them uncomfortable that game.”
Canada had limited opportunities and a few errors proved costly. Gushue, from St. John’s, N.L., was heavy with a draw to the four-foot ring in the third end and his hit-and-roll attempt rolled out in the fifth.
Mouat drew for two to take a 6-1 lead into the mid-game break to the delight of Scottish supporters in a back section of the arena.
Canada scored its first deuce in the sixth end as Scotland played the scoreboard. Mouat went with a hit instead of a riskier double takeout, content to take hammer and a three-point lead into the seventh.
After a blank, Gushue tried a hit and roll but couldn’t quite remove the Scottish stone from the 12-foot ring. Mouat followed with a hit for three and Canada conceded.
“Yesterday we were firing on all cylinders and everything seemed to go our way,” Nichols said. “Today it was just that little bit off. We weren’t bad, we just weren’t perfect and they were pretty much perfect.”
All four Scottish players shot in the mid-90s. Nichols was at 81 per cent and Gushue shot a game-low 78 per cent.
“We had to take some chances, we took those chances and it didn’t work out for us,” Gushue said. “It was disappointing.”
Canada had the edge in experience, but the youthful Scots — with an average age of just under 29 — boasted big-game moments, too.
Mouat is a world junior champ, world mixed doubles champion and he took Olympic silver last year in Beijing. He finished third at the world men’s playdowns in 2018 and took silver in 2021.
“We’ve had a few tough losses in championship finals,” he said. “We knew what we needed to bring and we brought it. It’s really nice to actually feel like we can do that in a final.”
Earlier in the day, Switzerland defeated Italy’s Joel Retornaz 11-3 for the bronze medal.
Gushue, Nichols and Walker, with Brett Gallant playing second, won gold in their first appearance at this event in 2017 in Edmonton. It was the last time Canada has been on the top of the podium at this competition.
That foursome settled for silver in 2018 and 2022 when they fell to Edin both years in Las Vegas.
Harnden, who joined the Gushue rink after Gallant’s departure last spring, won world silver in 2013 on a team skipped by Brad Jacobs.
Scotland, as the No. 2 seed, enjoyed a bye before dispatching Italy in a semifinal that went an extra end. It was Scotland’s first world men’s title since 2009 when David Murdoch beat Canada’s Kevin Martin in Moncton.
Announced attendance for the final was 5,604 to bring the overall total to 75,960.
Gushue, the 2006 Olympic champion, will be the Canadian entry at next year’s Brier in Regina. The winner of that event will represent the country at the 2024 world men’s championship in Schaffhausen, Switzerland.
Kerri Einarson skipped Canada to a bronze medal at last month’s women’s world championship in Sandviken, Sweden.
Jennifer Jones and Brent Laing will wear the Maple Leaf at the April 22-29 world mixed doubles championship in Gangneung, South Korea.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2023.
Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.