Skip to main content


Gushue, Bottcher, Dunstone, McEwen into Brier final four

Team Canada celebrates Team Canada celebrates - The Canadian Press

REGINA — Brendan Bottcher shortened his road to the final of the Canadian men's curling championship, but not without drama.

Up a point coming home with hammer against Saskatchewan's Mike McEwen, the 10th end paused for almost four minutes while the ramifications of a rock burned by his team were sorted out.

Lead Ben Hebert's broom head clicked third Marc Kennedy's thrown stone in motion when Hebert and second Brent Gallant crossed brooms.

"Not my first burnt rock. Probably won't be my last," Bottcher said after Friday's 9-7 win. "I'm playing with a lot of veteran guys who have also been there, done that before. All you can do is take a breath and continue on."

The Brier's No. 1 seed meets defending champion Brad Gushue in Saturday's Page playoff that offers an express ticket to Sunday's final for the winner. The loser must win the semifinal earlier that day to gain a rematch at night.

Five-time Brier champion Gushue was a 9-7 winner over Manitoba's Reid Carruthers to advance.

McEwen recovered with an undramatic 7-0 win at night over Northwest Territories' Jamie Koe, who gave up single-point steals in six ends. Koe shook hands after eight ends in front of a full house in Regina's Brandt Centre.

"Not quite how we drew it up. Would love to win this one earlier today, but we're still breathing and that's all we can ask for right now," McEwen said. "It's not too far, right? It's just three more (wins), but we'll just worry about one at a time."

Manitoba's Matt Dunstone, the 2023 Brier finalist, was a 6-2 winner over Carruthers at night to advance. Dunstone takes on the host province in Saturday's Page elimination playoff that determines Sunday's other semifinalist.

"We're not going to have many fans pulling for us," said Dunstone, who previously represented Saskatchewan three times in his career. "I'm going to be on the other side of the green jacket this time.

"We're climbing a mountain still. Have been for a few days. We're playing very well. Good enough to win this thing and this team certainly believes that we can."

Gushue, who along with third Mark Nichols and lead Geoff Walker, were two wins away from their sixth titles and third straight to equal Randy Ferbey's records. Their second E.J. Harnden is a former Canadian, world and Olympic champion with Brad Jacobs.

Bottcher's Albertan lineup is equally accomplished with a combined 10 national titles and five world championships between Kennedy, Gushue's former second Gallant and Hebert. Bottcher skipped a different lineup to win the 2021 Brier.

Kennedy won Olympic gold in 2010 playing second for Kevin Martin.

"You look at all the names on this team and there are a lot of names that a lot of teams would like to have, so I'm definitely grateful to have been a part of this group," Bottcher said.

Gushue's team from St. John's, N.L., shot over 90 per cent accuracy for a fifth straight game against Carruthers.

"Getting into the one-two game is, you know, get two cracks at the final. I think that was the key," Gushue said. "For me, it was really about getting tonight off and getting to that one-two game."

Sunday's winner represents Canada at the men's world championship March 30 to April 7 in Schaffhausen, Switzerland and returns to the 2025 Montana's Brier in Kelowna, B.C. as defending champion.

Curling Canada rules state if a moving stone is touched by the team to which it belongs, all stones are allowed to come to rest.

The touched stone must be removed from play and all stones that were displaced after the infraction are placed to their original positions, unless the non-offending team considers it an advantage to either leave all stones where they came to rest, or place all stones where it reasonably considers the stones would have come to rest had the moving stone not been touched.

McEwen asked for visual assistance from the umpire to return three rocks to their original position.

"It was just difficult to figure out where everything went back," he said. "In that situation, more rocks in play is better for us trying to steal.

"Thank goodness we were the TV game. If you're on another sheet beside, you might not be afforded that kind of view from the overhead."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 8, 2024.