Team Brad Gushue of St. John's celebrate after capturing the Masters Grand Slam of Curling title (Photo: Anil Mungal).

Gushue defeats McEwen to win Masters title

November 2, 2014, 7:02 PM

SELKIRK, Man. — Brad Gushue of St. John’s has won the Masters Grand Slam of Curling title with an 8-6 win over the home province favourite Mike McEwen rink from Winnipeg in Sunday’s final.

Gushue broke a 2-2 game scoring four in the fifth before McEwen made an incredible double raise in-off double to score four of his own and tie it back up.

“We made a couple bad ones and left Mike a Hail Mary and he made it,” said Team Gushue third Mark Nichols. “Credit to the guys because we just shook it off and said, ‘We’re still tied up with hammer, two ends left to win a Slam.’ A lot of teams, I don’t want to say crumble but they take that pretty bad.”

Gushue bounced back to earn a deuce in the seventh and regain the lead. McEwen held the hammer in the eighth but Gushue ran him out of rocks.

“For all of us here, we haven’t played the five-rock rule enough to really know what the stats say and what way you should play. It’s a bit of a feeling out,” Gushue added. “Looking back now maybe I’d play a little bit differently but who knows. If Mark and I executed our shots in the sixth end, it’s probably a little bit of a different situation. I missed a come-around and a draw so sometimes it’s hard to blame strategy on missed shots. But it’s a good win, I’m very happy. It’s going to be a much shorter flight than if we had let that one slide.”

Team Gushue reached the final at the Canadian Open and National Grand Slam tournaments last year but came up short both times. Gushue made a roster shuffle during the off-season with 2006 Olympic gold medallist teammate Nichols returning to the rink at third, Brett Gallant moving over to second while Geoff Walker remained at lead.

Gushue’s team dropped their opening draw match to Winnipeg’s Jeff Stoughton, but have been on a roll since winning three straight — over Thomas Ulsrud, Glenn Howard and John Epping — to qualify and avenging the loss to Stoughton with a 5-4 win in the quarterfinals. Gushue had to grind out another victory over Epping in the semis after missing a double and giving up a steal of one in the eighth but secured his spot in the final with a single in the extra end.

“These events are so hard to win and we were arguably in the toughest pool,” Nichols said. “To come out of that and we played Stoughton, Epping and McEwen to win it. It’s no easy feat.”

The team of McEwen, third BJ Neufeld, second Matt Wozniak and lead Denni Neufeld dashed out of the gate to start the season winning four titles in their first four World Curling Tour events.

The team rolled through their first three games at the Masters but fell to John Morris’ rink to close out the round robin. McEwen bounced back big time to defeat Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock 9-3 in the quarterfinals and made quick work of Olympic gold medallist Brad Jacobs, of Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., with a 7-2 win in five ends in the semis.

“We’ve been knocking on the door the last four, I guess, and to break through and finally win one here is nice and against the best team in the world,” Gushue said. “Those guys have been crazy hot this year. To come out and play well, and we controlled the game other than the sixth end, which was a bit of a disaster but we bounced right back and played a great seventh end and a great eighth end there. It was nice to make that double to win.”

Gushue and Nichols also won the National Grand Slam of Curling title together in January 2010 before Nichols departed to Stoughton’s team in 2012.

The Masters was the first stop on the 2014-15 Grand Slam of Curling season. The next event is the National, running Nov. Nov. 19-23 at the Essar Centre in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont.