Canada’s Gushue splits games, qualifies for playoffs at world curling championship


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OTTAWA - Minutes after dropping a third game at the world men's curling championship on Thursday night, Brad Gushue and his Canadian teammates returned to the ice at TD Place.

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OTTAWA – Minutes after dropping a third game at the world men’s curling championship on Thursday night, Brad Gushue and his Canadian teammates returned to the ice at TD Place.

An impromptu practice session was followed by conversations at the coach’s bench.

A 6-3 loss to Scotland’s Bruce Mouat left Canada playoff-bound at 7-3 with one day of round-robin play to go. But there is much work to be done if the host team is going to contend on the weekend.

Canada skip Brad Gushue delivers a throw as they take on Germany at the Men's World Curling Championship in Ottawa, on Thursday, April 6, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang

“We’re going to talk about it and attempt to make some changes,” Gushue said.

The St. John’s, N.L., skip has looked strong against the lesser lights in the 13-team field but his defeats have come to teams above him in the standings.

Yannick Schwaller of Switzerland (10-1) was in first place ahead of Sweden’s Niklas Edin (9-1), Scotland and Norway’s Magnus Ramsjfell (both 8-2).

Canada and Sweden will square off Friday night in a rematch of last year’s final. Edin won the 2022 title in Las Vegas.

Gushue, vice Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden and lead Geoff Walker looked strong in a comfortable 9-4 win over Germany’s Sixten Totzek 9-4 in the morning draw.

The Canadians weren’t close to duplicating the effort in the evening in front of a well-attended, vocal crowd at the 9,500-seat venue.

“(Tonight) we just had a lot of sloppy throws and never really put any real pressure on Bruce,” Gushue said. “I don’t think there was any end where he was really scared.”

Both Canada and Scotland made mistakes in the early going as they tried to settle in.

Mouat settled for a single in the first end when his open hit rolled out. Gushue made a draw against two in the second end but a hit-and-roll attempt in the third didn’t curl enough, setting up the Scot for a deuce.

“We executed really poorly,” Gushue said. “We threw a lot of bad rocks out there tonight.”

Mouat made another uncharacteristic miss in the sixth end when he nosed a blank attempt. Gushue couldn’t take advantage of hammer and had to make a draw against four for a single.

“When you throw it poorly and you don’t give rocks a chance, you’re going to get burned because the top teams are going to follow it up with a made shot,” Gushue said.

In the ninth end, Mouat made a brilliant rub and roll to sit two at the button. Canada had a chance to push for a tie in the 10th but plans unravelled when Nichols was short on a guard attempt.

Canada will play curling minnow Turkey on Friday morning before the showdown with Edin.

Italy’s Joel Retornaz (6-4) and Japan’s Riku Yanagisawa (5-5) were the only teams with a shot at the sixth and final spot in the playoffs. Medal games are scheduled for Sunday.

Earlier Thursday, Gushue opened with a deuce and held Germany to a pair of forces over the first half, taking a 4-2 lead into the fifth-end break.

He tacked on another pair in the sixth and wrapped up the victory with a double-takeout for a deuce in the ninth end.

“We just played the scoreboard really,” Nichols said. “I thought we made a lot of good shots.”

Gushue has settled for silver at his last two world championship appearances. He won Olympic gold at the Turin Games in 2006 and his lone world title came in 2017 at Edmonton.

Kerri Einarson skipped the Canadian team to a bronze medal at last month’s world women’s curling championship in Sandviken, Sweden.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 6, 2023.

Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.

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