Gushue, Mouat advance to A bracket finals in Masters
OAKVILLE, Ont. — There’s something about Oakville that brings out the best in Team Brad Gushue and Team Bruce Mouat.
Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., and Mouat, from Scotland, captured tour titles in the town earlier this season and both are out to 2-0 records in the Masters at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex.
Mouat defeated Regina’s Team Matt Dunstone 5-1 and Gushue hammered Toronto’s Team John Epping 7-2 during Wednesday night action in the season-opening Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event.
Gushue clashes with Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe and Mouat meets Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher in Thursday’s A bracket finals of the triple knockout preliminary round. The winners will move straight to Saturday afternoon’s quarterfinals while the losers drop to the B bracket finals for another opportunity to advance.
Team Mouat won the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard to kick off their season in September. They also won that event plus the Oakville Fall Classic in 2017 during their first season as a foursome.
“We love Oakville,” said skip Bruce Mouat, who has been selected to represent Great Britain in men’s and mixed doubles at the upcoming 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics. “We’ve been here a lot of times and we always enjoy the surrounding area of Toronto and Oakville. It’s a lovely area so it’s always a pleasure to come here and to play.”
Team Gushue took the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard, which is normally held during Thanksgiving weekend at the High Park Club but was relocated this season to the Oakville Curling Club.
“We’re loving Oakville right now,” Team Gushue second Brett Gallant said. “A great event a couple weeks ago and it’s just great to play a Slam again with some fans in a more normal setting than the bubble was. We’re just grateful to be playing a Slam again, really.”
The Masters was cancelled last season due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the GSOC hosted two events in the Calgary bubble in April that was closed to the general public. Fans are now back in the stands much to the delight of Team Mouat and Team Gushue.
“I’m really excited to start playing again and have a bit of a crowd,” said Mouat, who won both the Champions Cup and Princess Auto Players’ Championship last season. “We missed that in the bubble last year. We’re playing well again, we’re looking forward to our A final against Brendan.”
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The 11-time GSOC men’s champion Gushue got out to a hot start converting for a deuce in the first and steal two in the second for an early 4-0 advantage. Epping recovered counting a couple of points in the third, but it was all Gushue from there. Gushue drew for three in the fifth end and cluttered up the house in the sixth to the point that Epping didn’t even bother to throw his last and just shook hands early.
“We had a really good start to the game and put a little pressure on them,” said Gallant, who shot 92 per cent in the match. “But with the five-rock rule and especially if you get to the eighth end there’s no tick, so you still have to really play sharp and I think we did a good job. We made some double peels and didn’t give them too many chances to get back in the game. We got the lead and were able to hang onto it, which was really nice.”
Mouat also got a deuce on the board in the first end after connecting on an open hit. Dunstone conceded a point in the second but gave up more than he bargained for in the third end handing Mouat two points and a 5-0 gap. Dunstone scored a single in the fourth end to snap the shutout but shook hands after Mouat blanked the fifth end.
“We were pretty clinical,” Mouat said. “We missed a few in the first end but still managed to get away with a two. Then from there we were controlling a lot of the centre line and we were able to put Matt in some tough spots to get some steals. We were just playing really well again.”
Epping and Dunstone, the defending Masters champion, now hold 1-1 records and drop into the B bracket semifinals.
In the B Event, Scotland’s Team Ross Whyte earned their first win in the GSOC ever scoring three in the eighth end to beat Team Yannick Schwaller of Switzerland 8-6. Whyte improved to a 1-1 record in the B brackets while Schwaller dropped to 0-2 and into the C brackets.
Team Rich Ruohonen of the United States got by Switzerland’s Team Peter de Cruz 5-4 in an extra end. Ruohonen (1-1) stays in the B brackets while de Cruz (0-2) fell into the C brackets.
The Masters action resumes Thursday morning with Draw 9 at 7:30 a.m. ET.
TRIPLE KNOCKOUT EXPLAINED
The triple knockout consists of three brackets: A, B and C. Teams must win three games in order to qualify for the playoffs. Each loss drops a team to a lower bracket until they lose three games and are eliminated from the tournament. Two A teams (3-0 records), three B teams (3-1 records) and three C teams (3-2 records) advance to the quarterfinals.
NO TICK ZONE
Teams cannot tick guards off of the centre line while the five-rock, free guard zone is in effect during the eighth and extra ends only.
The Masters is the first of five events on the 2021-22 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling schedule and features 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world. … Triple knockout play runs through to Saturday morning. The quarterfinals and semifinals are also Saturday with both finals set for Sunday. … Tickets are available at masters.goigniter.com. … Broadcast coverage begins Thursday at 11 a.m. ET on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).