Must See: Gushue makes beautiful shot to score four
With the Tim Hortons Curling Trials quickly approaching, TSN.ca will profile one men’s team and one women’s team each day before the first rocks fly on Nov. 20 at the SaskTel Centre in Saskatoon.
Team Brad Gushue
Skip: Brad Gushue (Age 41)
Third: Mark Nichols (41)
Second: Brett Gallant (31)
Lead: Geoff Walker (35)
Alternate: Jeff Thomas
Coach: Jules Owchar (77)
Curling Club: Re/Max Centre in St. John’s, Nfld.
CTRS Ranking: 1
Highlights: Team Gushue have played a light schedule this season, but have been dominant when they've stepped onto the pebbled ice. Gushue's rink from the Rock have won 16 of 17 games this season, highlighted by a win at the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard in October after beating Glenn Howard in the final and then went 6-0 at the National earlier this month to win the stacked Grand Slam event. At the National, Gushue topped Trials contenders in Jason Gunnlaugson, Matt Dunstone and Kevin Koe before beating Olympic contender Bruce Mouat of Scotland in the final.
How They Got Here
Qualified for the Tim Hortons Curling Trials after winning the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier in Kingston.
Nov. 20 – Brendan Bottcher
Nov. 21 – Kevin Koe
Nov. 22 – John Epping
Nov. 23 – Brad Jacobs
Nov. 24 – Matt Dunstone, Jason Gunnlaugson
Nov. 25 – Tanner Horgan
Nov. 26 – Mike McEwen
Expert Analysis from TSN's Russ Howard
Team Gushue will win the Trials if…
"Team Gushue learned their lesson from four years ago as they've played a lighter schedule this time, hoping to be rested for the Trials. This team has to be one of the favourites with three Brier wins. Brad Gushue and Mark Nichols know how to get it done. The front end has too preform when it counts at the end of the week. There is no reason they can’t."
Saskatoon will be the second Olympic Trials appearance for this version of Team Gushue.
At the 2017 Trials in Ottawa, Gushue’s rink came in as the favourites after winning the Canadian championship on home soil in St. John’s, Nfld., before going a perfect 13-0 to capture the World Men’s Curling Championship in Edmonton earlier that year.
In the nation’s capital, Gushue went 6-2 in the round robin to earn the No. 2 seed and a date with Mike McEwen in the semifinals. In their round-robin meeting, Team Gushue got the better of Team McEwen with an 8-3 win, but McEwen’s rink played their best when it mattered the most and took the semi-final clash, 6-4.
The Ottawa Trials stung for Team Gushue, but 12 years prior it was glory for Gushue and third Mark Nichols. Both were 25-years-old at the time and were starting to make noise on the national curling circuit after three straight appearances at the Brier.
Just months before the 2005 Olympic Trials in Halifax, Gushue added curling legend Russ Howard to call the game and throw second stones. Despite the radical move, Gushue and company weren’t expected to win with the likes of Jeff Stoughton, Glenn Howard, Kevin Martin, Randy Ferbey, Pat Ryan and Mark Dacey in the field. But, thanks to the guidance of Howard and some sharp shooting from the young Gushue at fourth, the rink from the Rock won eight of nine games in the round robin, only losing to Ryan’s team.
The strong play got them to a championship clash against 1996 world champion Stoughton of Manitoba. The game came down to a measure to confirm that Stoughton’s second stone wasn’t in the rings. It was not and Howard emphatically pumped his fist as Gushue and his team were going to the Winter Olympics with the maple leaf on their backs.
Two months later, they stood atop the podium in Torino, Italy with gold medals around their necks.
Last Four Years
Over the last quadrennial, Team Gushue has arguably been the best rink in men’s curling.
They added two more Canadian championships in 2018 and 2020, both over Brendan Bottcher, and a silver medal at the 2018 worlds.
“It feels absolutely incredible to win in this field which is probably the strongest field I’ve certainly played in, in the 17 Briers and to come through and play the game we played today, that’s special,” said Gushue immediately after the 2020 win, the team’s third Tankard in four years.
"We kind of didn't get any credit to be one of the favourites. There was a lot of talk about other teams, and we were kind of left to the side a little bit. We felt we should have been in there [after] winning two of the last three," said Gushue "I think we were highly motivated this week, more so than we have been in the last two years."
After the most recent Brier win, Nichols stopped short of calling Team Gushue a dynasty, but lauded how they’ve been able to battle through adversity over the years.
“This team has been through so much together over the last eight, nine years. We’ve lost a couple Brier finals. We’ve won three now. We’re always putting ourselves [in a position] to play really well in big moments,” said Nichols. “These guys are great to work with. Nobody gives up on each other.”
The foursome missed out on representing Canada at the world championships in 2020 due to the pandemic.
Gushue and company didn't qualify for the three-team playoff at the bubble Brier last year in Calgary, finishing fourth in the championship pool with an 8-4 record.
The St. John’s rink also won the 2018 Players’ Championship and the 2018 Elite 10 tournament on the Grand Slam circuit.
Gushue won the 2021 Canadian World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship with partner Kerri Einarson, two years after teammate Brett Gallant won his second mixed doubles title with Jocelyn Peterman.
Team Gushue and Team Bottcher are the only squads to bring back the same lineup from the 2017 Trials.