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Gushue faces daunting odds

Brad Gushue will have to take the road less travelled if he wants towin the Brier title that has eluded him in six previous attempts.

Brad Gushue will have to take the road less travelled if he wants to win the Brier title that has eluded him in six previous attempts.

The Newfoundland and Labrador skip clinched a playoff spot at the Tim Hortons Brier on Thursday night at the Metro Centre, defeating Quebec’s Sergei Reid 8-2 to finish fourth overall with an 8-3 record.

The odds are daunting from here. The 29-year-old is up against Alberta’s Kevin Koe in the win-or-go-home 3-4 Page playoff game on Saturday at noon. Since the Page playoff system was implemented in 1995, no one has won the Brier via the 3-4 game.

“You’ve got to beat three really good teams — that’s tough to do,” Gushue said of his predicament. “But eventually someone’s gonna do it and hopefully it’s going to be us this time. It’s got to happen ... I think we’re due.”

Despite his solid record and a spot in the playoffs, it’s been an up-and-down week for Gushue and teammates Mark Nichols, Jamie Korab and Ryan Fry.

Gushue, who won a gold medal with Nichols and Korab at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Italy, has been critical of himself and his teammates at various times throughout the week and has expressed discontent with the group’s reliance on lower-probability shot-making.

But Thursday’s win over Quebec was resounding. Gushue curled 98 per cent and earned a huge cheer when he executed an open draw for three in the third end to grab a 5-1 lead. It was a bounce-back showing after an 8-4 loss to Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs in the morning.

“We’re feeling as good as we could based on the way it went earlier today,” Gushue said.

Gushue, who suggested this could be “the worst we’ve played” at a Brier, admitted to being a perfectionist.

“My teammates know that,” he said. “That’s why they love me and that’s why they hate me.”
Koe, a World Curling Tour star who is making his Brier debut, beat Gushue 7-6 in the round robin and finished with an 8-3 record.

“We’ve played (Gushue) lots and we actually have a really good record against him,” Koe said. “He’s playing good this week, so it’s probably a toss-up come (Saturday).”

 
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