Bruce Mouat shoots a stone during the 12th round-robin draw of the Boost National on Dec. 14, 2018, in Conception Bay South, N.L. (Anil Mungal)

Mouat stuns Gushue to top Boost National table

December 14, 2018, 6:44 PM

CONCEPTION BAY SOUTH, N.L. — Team Bruce Mouat remained unfazed on rival turf taking on the home-province heroes Team Brad Gushue in the Boost National.

The defending champions from Scotland were cool, calm and collected as they clipped the St. John’s crew 6-5 at the sold-out CBS Arena Friday to finish first overall in pool play and enter the playoffs as the No. 1 seed.

“Yeah, it feels really nice,” Mouat said. “We must love the Boost National because we seem to play very well every time we come around to that. We’ll keep on going in the playoffs, hopefully, and start to turn out some more performances like that.”

Mouat had already qualified, however, finishing first guarantees his team choice of hammer or rock colours for the duration of the playoffs.

“That’s really nice,” Mouat said. “You get choice every time you go to play a team now, so we’ll be pretty happy every time now. We’re quite excited to continue tomorrow.”

Team Mouat managed to steal in three separate ends including a three-spot in the fifth that gave him a five-point advantage and took the wind out of the sails of his opponent. Although that pretty much put the game away, the earlier swipes may have been more key for Mouat as that put the pressure on Gushue and had him chasing.

“The steal of three was huge but also the steal of one just to get in front was pretty big for us,” Mouat said. “We quite like playing when we’re up a front-running team. That was pretty big and then we put loads of pressure on them for that three steal and got the miss. Always quite nice.”

Despite being seen as the enemy, Mouat has been embracing the atmosphere of the building and said it’s great.

“There’s a complete buzz around the arena and everyone seems to be enjoying it,” Mouat said. “They’re obviously cheering for Brad and his team but if other teams are kind of able to use that to their advantage than good on them. I think that’s what we were doing there.”

Team Gushue fell to a 2-2 record and will play in a tiebreaker during the evening draw against Team Yannick Schwaller of Switzerland. It’s the first time Gushue has had to play a tiebreaker in a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event since the 2013 Players’ Championship. Schwaller upset Gushue in an extra end when they faced off during Tuesday’s opening draw.

Gushue, who has won 11 titles in the series, opened with the hammer but didn’t get off to a good start giving up a single steal in the first end.

The teams traded lone points in two and three and Mouat extended his lead to 3-1 with another steal in four as Gushue was light on both of his skip stones.

Things went from bad to worse for Gushue in the fifth end surrendering a game-breaking steal of three when he crashed on a guard.

Gushue drew for a deuce in the seventh and sat three stones in the house during the eighth, however, he had nowhere to hide and Mouat just had to make one go away to ice the game.

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Meanwhile, Scotland’s Team Ross Paterson got into the playoffs straight through with a 2-2 record thanks to a superior total pre-game shootout score. Paterson levelled his round-robin record at 2-2 after beating Team Peter de Cruz of Switzerland 6-3. De Cruz went winless during the week at 0-4.

Saskatoon’s Team Kirk Muyres (2-2) rubbed and rolled to score the extra-end winner over Winnipeg’s Team Jason Gunnlaugson 4-3 and squeeze into a tiebreaker against Team Glenn Howard of Penetanguishene, Ont. Despite the loss, Gunnlaugson’s shootout score secured his team a playoff berth at 2-2.

Team Scott McDonald of Kingston, Ont., finished things on a positive note defeating Winnipeg’s Team Braden Calvert 6-4. Both teams ended at 1-3.

The Boost National is the fourth event and second major of the 2018-19 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season featuring 15 of the top men’s teams and 15 of the top women’s teams from around the world.

Both divisions are split into three pools for round-robin play with the top eight teams overall qualifying for Saturday’s quarterfinals. The semis are also set for Saturday with both finals taking place Sunday.

Round-robin play continues at 8:30 p.m. local time (7 p.m. ET) with broadcast coverage on Sportsnet ONE and streaming online at Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

NOTES: Winners of the Boost National collect $30,000 of the $250,000 total purse plus berths to the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season finale Humpty’s Champions Cup. … Points are also on the line for the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the overall season champions following the conclusion of the Players’ Championship in April. … All games are played to eight ends with 33 minutes of thinking time plus two, 90-second timeouts. The five-rock rule is also in effect.