Gushue beats Carruthers to qualify for KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup playoffs
REGINA — Brad Gushue secured a spot in the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup playoffs with a 5-3 victory over Reid Carruthers during an all-Canadian clash in Draw 13 Friday afternoon.
Gushue wrapped up pool play with a 4-1 record and now awaits the results of the remaining two round-robin draws on tap to find out if his team will be playing in the quarterfinals or has earned a bye straight to the semifinals.
The 14-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling champion Gushue is the defending KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup champion and also won the 2017 Tour Challenge that was held here in the same venue.
“We need a bit of help I think at this point to get right to the semis but we obviously got a spot in the quarters locked up,” Gushue said. “We’re going golfing right now, but I’m sure we’ll be keeping an eye on our phones to see what the scores are and see if we get some help.
“Our loss [Wednesday to Matt Dunstone] was the big one, we kind of took it out of our own hands, but we had a really good draw to the button. If we do get some help, I think it should get us into the semis.”
Gushue grabbed the hammer to start and kicked off with a strong three-ender in the first. Carruthers jammed allowing Gushue to ease his last into the house for an easy three.
“That was more like we’ve been playing all season,” Gushue said. “I thought we played really consistently, applied a lot of pressure on Reid and put some rocks in good position. It was a solid game.”
From there it was just singles going steady back and forth. Carruthers came close to narrowing the gap in the fifth end with a potential for a deuce, but his in-off didn’t connect hard enough and only counted one.
“Each sheet is very unique, there are different tendencies on each sheet,” Gushue explained. “That was our first time playing on it and we caught on it pretty quick, fortunately.
“It’s interesting because there are a few fine lines out there where if you get on one side of it, it’ll run really straight and if you get on the other side of it, it’ll curl and that sheet was no different. We figured it out. I don’t think we got burned by those at any point in our game. I know Reid did. It was a good game.”
Elsewhere, Korey Dropkin’s club from the United States also remained in the mix following a 7-5 win over Scotland’s Bruce Mouat.
Carruthers, Dropkin and Mouat’s teams all finished at 2-3 and are still in it at the moment for potential tiebreakers.
Dropkin is resting after winning gold in the world mixed doubles championship last week in South Korea. Andrew Stopera, who normally skips and throws third, is now tossing last rocks and lead Thomas Howell is at vice skip. Ben Richardson is subbing at lead with Mark Fenner remaining at second.
In women’s play, Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa scored four in the fourth and finished with three in the seventh to defeat Canada’s Kerri Einarson 9-4.
Both teams have qualified for the quarterfinals with identical 3-2 records and strong shootout scores.
Canada’s Rachel Homan (2-2) drew her record level with a 6-3 win over Norway’s Marianne Rørvik(1-3) and another game to go.
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Round-robin action continues at the Co-operators Centre with Draw 14 at 4 p.m. local time (6 p.m. ET).
Watch live on Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup is the sixth and final Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of the season featuring 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams. … Both divisions are split into two pools of six teams for round-robin play. The best six teams overall qualify for Saturday’s quarterfinals with the top two receiving byes to the semifinals. … The finals are scheduled for Sunday.