Brad Gushue shoots a stone during the Meridian Canadian Open in North Battleford, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

Gushue throws perfect game to win in Canadian Open quarters

January 7, 2017, 5:17 PM

NORTH BATTLEFORD, Sask. — Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., kept it 100 to reach the Meridian Canadian Open semifinals.

Gushue, a six-time Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling champion, threw a perfect game to eliminate home-province favourite Steve Laycock of Saskatoon 5-2 in Saturday’s quarterfinals.

The sharpshooting Gushue delivered his best performance of the year so far and wasn’t even sure if he’s had another 100 percent game.

“I threw some 99s but if I threw 100 that’s cool,” said Gushue, who missed eight events to start the season due to a hip/groin issue. “I felt like I played good, had good grasp on the ice and feel for it. That’s a good confidence boost.”

After Gushue was forced to a single in two, Laycock looked to blank three but his shooter stayed put in the house to count. Gushue pulled off the blank in four to keep it tied up heading into the break. Laycock hit a guard with his last in the fifth and Gushue capitalized with an open draw for a pair.

Looking at three counters, Laycock was forced to draw for a single in the sixth end. Gushue made another gentle hit for two in the seventh to go up three coming home where he ran Laycock out of rocks.

It was a rematch of the event’s 2014 final where Gushue edged Laycock for the Grand Slam title.

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It’ll be another Battle of the Brads with Gushue facing Brad Jacobs in the semis after the reigning Olympic champ from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., scored a 7-3 victory over Winnipeg’s Mike McEwen.

“It’s going to have to be a solid game,” Gushue said about the semifinals. “I watched a few of their games this week and they seem to be solid.

“We played them on Wednesday night and they made a lot of shots. We’re going to have to play well. It’s not going to be one of those ones where we can come out with our B game and hope to get by. We’re going to have to play well and they’re going to have to do the same thing. I think it’s probably going to boil down to who has hammer coming home, really, and hopefully we’re in that position this time around.”

Jacobs, who qualified through the A-side of the triple knockout at 3-0, is fresh off of capturing the Boost National title last month in his hometown and was practically perfect himself in the quarterfinals throwing 99 percent while third Ryan Fry was on the money for 100.

Team Jacobs broke a 2-2 tie with his second deuce of the game in five, held McEwen to just one in the six and closed it out with a three-ender in seven.

Niklas Edin of Sweden was the first through to the semifinals making short work of Edmonton’s Brendan Bottcher winning 7-1 in just five ends.

Edin has made it to at least the semifinals in all four Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournaments so far this season winning his first two career championships in the series at the WFG Masters and the Tour Challenge.

“It’s been an unreal season so far,” said Edin, who has won five titles in total this season. “We had a really good fall and then kind of were worried a bit after the Christmas break. We didn’t feel in form any more.

“We didn’t practice a lot during Christmas because we felt we needed a mental break but once we stepped onto the ice here it seems like it’s all coming back fast. The guys have been playing well and as soon as we get the lead it’s been solid. I think we just need to focus on getting a good start in every game we’ve played so far and hopefully it should be some good games.”

Up 2-1 after two, Edin blanked the third when Bottcher made a triple and double to leave him without many options. It was all Edin from there as he scored four in the fourth and stole one in the fifth to bring out the early handshakes.

Edin, who curled 97 percent in the game, could have gotten five points in the fourth as he attempted a split at the top of the rings but couldn’t get the guard to go into the paint.

“I think we were all over them this game and played really well,” Edin said. “It was a well-deserved win and we really have to focus on just getting out strong like we did in this game and a good start. That’s the key.”

Edin will play John Morris after his Vernon, B.C., team also motored into the semis taking down American John Shuster 7-1.

NOTES: The Meridian Canadian Open is the fourth event and third major of the 2016-17 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season. … TV coverage continues at 4 p.m. ET on Sportsnet ONE & 360 with the women’s quarterfinals. … Winners of the Meridian Canadian Open earn spots for the season-ending Humpty‚Äôs Champions Cup taking place at the end of April in Calgary.