CHESTERMERE, Alta. — Brad Gushue and his St. John’s, N.L., crew cooled Calgary’s own Team Kevin Koe in their backyard to reach the Boost National men’s final.
Gushue got by the local favourites with a 5-2 decision in an electric and entertaining heavyweight tilt that had the crowd roaring during Saturday night’s semifinals at Chestermere Recreation Centre.
Koe held the hammer in the final frame trailing by two and was looking for a circus shot to either tie it and force an extra end or win outright. Time wasn’t on Koe’s side, however, with his clock ticking into single digits and no timeouts remaining.
Although Koe was able to beat the clock and fire his last rock, he was unable to beat Gushue, whose stone stuck around for shot rock after the dust settled.
Gushue said it felt great to get the win and also a bit of revenge recalling the 2015 Tour Challenge men’s final in Paradise, N.L., when Koe came out on top.
“It was a battle, every time we play Kevin it’s a battle,” Gushue said. “You never know with him with his ability to throw that big weight, anything can happen. You’re always trying to put the rocks in the perfect position and we were a little off there in the last end. I don’t know if it was there or not but he was darn close to making it.
“It feels good. It’s nice to win. A little bit of revenge for him beating us in our hometown back in Paradise a few years ago.”
He added with a laugh: “I’m a bitter old man, I guess.”
The 11-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling men’s champion Gushue will play Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat, who shaded Switzerland’s Team Peter de Cruz 7-2.
Mouat captured a third consecutive GSOC men’s title two weeks ago at the Masters in Oakville, Ont., and looks to become the first men’s skip to win four in a row since Kevin Martin, who captured five straight in 2007.
Gushue and Mouat have played each other four times this calendar year, split 2-2, although Mouat’s victories came in the Champions Cup semifinals and the Princess Auto Players’ Championship final in the Calgary bubble in April.
Team Gushue, who enter the final with an unblemished 5-0 record this week, handed Team Mouat (5-1) their lone loss of the tournament, 8-6, during the A-qualifiers of the triple knockout stage Thursday.
“Same as Kevin, we’ve had a lot of tough games, a lot of great games,” Gushue said. “He made two absolutely amazing shots to beat us in the bubble. We had a good battle here earlier this week. It wasn’t the best curled game but it was certainly entertaining and fun to play. I expect it’s going to be a close battle tomorrow and hopefully, we’ve got another notch in us.”
Gushue said third Mark Nichols has played well this week and lead Geoff Walker has been steady, however, he admitted second Brett Gallant and himself have struggled and will need to find another gear in order to beat Team Mouat again.
“We’re a little bit of smoke and mirrors this week,” Gushue said. “I don’t think we’re firing on all cylinders. … Certainly, myself and Brett have to find another level and we know we have it in us. Hopefully, we can bring it tomorrow.”
Meanwhile, Tracy Fleury’s team from East St. Paul, Man., will face Anna Hasselborg’s Swedish squad in the women’s final.
Fleury successfully defended the Masters women’s title in Oakville and reached a second consecutive GSOC championship game taking a 6-3 set from Edmonton’s Team Kelsey Rocque.
“We feel like that was a good game for us,” said Fleury, who enters the final undefeated at 5-0. “I feel like if we can keep playing like that we’ll do well tomorrow.”
The defending champion Hasselborg (5-1) drew to the back of the four-foot circle for the winning point in the eighth end to edge two-time reigning world champions Team Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland 5-4.
“It seems like they have a lot of momentum right now and are making a lot of shots,” Fleury said. “I think it’ll be a close one tomorrow.”
The men’s final kicks off “Championship Sunday” at Noon ET / 10 a.m. MT followed by the women’s final at 4 p.m. ET / 2 p.m. MT.
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.
The Boost National is the second 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 with a combined $300,000 prize purse. … The winning teams earning $33,000 plus spots in the season-ending KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup. … Tickets are available at boost.goigniter.com.