OAKVILLE, Ont. — Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., and Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat brought their “A” games to the Masters at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex.
Gushue and Mouat completed undefeated 3-0 runs through the A brackets to become the first men’s teams to qualify for the playoffs.
Team Gushue topped Calgary’s Kevin Koe 6-2 and Team Mouat defeated Edmonton’s Team Brendan Bottcher 7-4 during Draw 12 Thursday night at Sixteen Mile Sports Complex to move straight through to Saturday’s quarterfinals.
Team Koe and Team Bottcher dropped into the B brackets of the triple knockout but hold 2-1 records and both have additional opportunities to qualify Friday.
Gushue was sharp off the hop by pinning the draw-to-the-button shootout and the two-point conversion in the opening frame was good with a draw for a deuce.
The teams alternated singles in two and three. Koe was forced to draw for another lonely point in the fourth end while facing two counters as Gushue wrestled control of the hammer with a 3-2 lead heading into the halftime break.
After Koe collided with one of his own guards in the sixth end, Gushue capitalized to draw for another deuce to extend his lead to 5-2.
Gushue made a hit and roll to the button in the seventh that forced Koe to attempt an angle raise double. Koe jammed it to give up a steal and out came the handshakes.
Meanwhile, Mouat was down by one at the break and hit to score a game-changing four points in the fifth end to jump ahead 6-3. The teams alternated singles in six and seven and Mouat ran Bottcher out of rocks in eight.
Team Gushue is undefeated on the tour and in the town this season. Gushue posted a perfect 6-0 record to win the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard over Thanksgiving weekend at the Oakville Curling Club. Mouat has also been hot in the neighbourhood lately and went 6-0 to take the Stu Sells Oakville Tankard, which also took place at the Oakville Curling Club in September.
In the C Event, Winnipeg’s Team Mike McEwen and Team Peter de Cruz are still in it on the C side after grabbing their first victories of the Masters. McEwen got past Team Yannick Schwaller of Switzerland 3-2 and de Cruz ousted Scotland’s Team Ross Paterson 7-2.
It was a blank-fest for McEwen, who put doughnuts on the board in four consecutive ends before scoring his deuce in the sixth end to take a 2-1 lead. Schwaller was limited to a single in the seventh to tie it. McEwen held the last rock of the game but threw it away as he was confident he already held the shot rock. The measuring stick came out and proved McEwen was correct.
McEwen and de Cruz (both at 1-2) move onto the C bracket semifinals while Schwaller and Paterson were eliminated from the tournament with 0-3 records.
The Masters continues with Draw 13 Friday at 7:30 a.m. ET. Broadcast coverage resumes with Draw 14 at 11 a.m. ET on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international). The featured game will be Team Bottcher vs. Team Ross Whyte of Scotland in the B bracket finals.
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 out of 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. … A combined $300,000 prize purse is up for grabs with the winning teams earning $33,000 plus berths into the season-ending KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup. … 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.