Sports Brier in the Bubble: Defending champion Gushue beats Epping in opening draw
Kerri Einarson, Brad Gushue team up for national mixed doubles championship
CALGARY — If there's an upside to Kerri Einarson not having a women's world curling championship to play in this month, it's the chance to win another Canadian championship. Einarson and reigning Canadian men's champion skip Brad Gushue were among the 35 duos named Tuesday to the national mixed doubles championship. The March 18-25 tournament will be the third of four Curling Canada events held in a spectator-free, controlled environment in Calgary to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus.
CALGARY — Brad Gushue picked up where he left off at the Canadian men's curling championship on Friday night.
In his first game with the full foursome of Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker since winning the Tim Hortons Brier a year ago, the defending champs showed few signs of rust in a clinical 6-2 win over Ontario's John Epping.
Canada shot 91 per cent as a team while Gushue threw a perfect 100 per cent, numbers he felt may have been a little too kind.
"To use a golf expression, there's no pictures on the scorecard," Gushue said with a smile. "There were some throws out there that were pretty gross. But we got a lot out of every shot.
Defending champ Gushue headlines 18-team field as bubble play resumes with Brier
Brad Gushue won his first Canadian men's curling championship in a sold-out hometown venue that erupted in joy after his game-winning throw. The three-time champion will try to win another Tim Hortons Brier title in an arena setting that will be the complete opposite. Play begins Friday night in a spectator-free Markin MacPhail Centre as elite men's domestic curling returns after a long absence due to the pandemic. The Scotties Tournament ofThe three-time champion will try to win another Tim Hortons Brier title in an arena setting that will be the complete opposite.
"I think we only had one shot (that) we didn't get anything out of. That was a goal that we had coming into this game and I thought we executed that very well."
It was the long-awaited return of top-flight domestic men's curling after a season limited to just a few bonspiels due to the pandemic.
The opening draw at the Markin MacPhail Centre came on the heels of a successful Canadian women's curling championship, the first of seven events to be played in a so-called bubble setting at Canada Olympic Park.
In other Draw 1 games, Saskatchewan's Matt Dunstone dumped Nunavut's Peter Mackey 10-2, Wild Card Two's Kevin Koe beat Nova Scotia's Scott McDonald 7-4 and Quebec's Michael Fournier edged Greg Smith of Newfoundland and Labrador 7-6.
Wayne Middaugh leads Howard rink to victory in its opening game of Tim Hortons Brier
CALGARY — When Wayne Middaugh first joined Glenn Howard's team as a fifth, a utilityman role was planned: a veteran backup who could help strategize, provide guidance and have a little playing time mixed in. It turns out he'll be much more than a traditional alternate at the Canadian men's curling championship. With Howard still nursing sore ribs after a recent snowmobile accident, Middaugh has been thrust into the skip role for the Ontario-based Wild Card Three team. In his first competitive game in over five years, the Canadian Curling Hall of Famer delivered on Saturday at the WinSport Arena.
Gushue's team played in a couple events last fall in Halifax with substitute players as the Alberta-based Walker remained out west.
The teams blanked the first three ends as they got a feel for playing on arena ice again.
Gallant made a brilliant triple takeout early on and jokingly waved to the cardboard cutouts stationed throughout the spectator-free arena.
Epping was heavy on a hit-and-roll attempt in the fourth end that set up a Gushue draw for two.
Ontario settled for a single in the fifth before a Gushue hit and roll set up another deuce in the sixth end. The teams shook hands after a Canada single in the ninth end.
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"That was fun," Nichols said. "The leadup to this has been tough in terms of the isolation and stuff like that. So to get out there and play a competitive game -- it felt exactly how I thought it would.
Former world champion Kevin Koe earns third straight win at Tim Hortons Brier event
CALGARY — Kevin Koe remains unbeaten at the Tim Hortons Brier. Koe's Wild Card 2 rink defeated Eddie MacKenzie of Prince Edward Island 12-5 on Sunday to improve to 3-0 at the Canadian men's curling championship. MacKenzie's squad dropped to 0-2. Koe, a four-tine Canadian champion and twice a world gold medallist from Calgary, took control of the match early, scoring three in the second for a 4-0 lead. Koe's rink added four more in the fourth end to go up 8-1 before adding three in the sixth for an 11-3 advantage. Video: American Jordan Spieth hits hole-in-one at Arnold Palmer Invitational (cbc.
"There was no easing into it or anything. We were just right back to it so it felt really good."
Ontario finished at 82 per cent overall and Epping was at 72 per cent.
For most teams, it was their first competitive game action in several months.
Some provincial and territorial teams were able to play down in recent weeks, but most rinks were invited by their respective associations when championships were cancelled due to the pandemic.
Two more wild-card entries were added this year, boosting the field to 18 teams. Gushue's team had an automatic entry as returning champions.
"The first game -- we were trying not to fall down and hurt ourselves," Gushue said with a smile. "The nervous legs and everything that we had. I felt pretty shaky from the combination of nerves and not practising as much as we normally do coming in. So my focus was just on that."
Players are staying in a hotel across the road from the WinSport Arena and are being tested for COVID-19 on a regular basis. Coaches and team alternates wore masks on the end benches.
Electronic hog-line sensors on the stone handles were not used for the second straight event due to equipment delays as a result of the pandemic. The honour system was in effect.
Wayne's World: Wild-card skip Middaugh leads championship pool at the Brier
CALGARY — Craig Savill recalls a mantra that Wayne Middaugh followed back when they were teammates. "He always said, 'The round robin is for practising. The playoffs are for real.'" It's a line that should make other teams shudder at the Canadian men's curling championship. Middaugh was one of the top skips in the preliminary round at the Tim Hortons Brier and isn't letting up now that the championship pool is underway. He guided Wild Card Three to a 9-5 victory over Saskatchewan's Matt Dunstone on Friday afternoon at the Markin MacPhail Centre.
Three draws were scheduled for Saturday. Preliminary-round play continues through Thursday night.
The top four teams in each pool will advance to the two-day championship pool starting March 12. The top three teams will move on to the playoffs on March 14.
The second- and third-place teams will meet in an afternoon semifinal with the winner to play the first-place team for the championship.
The Brier winner will earn $100,000 of the $300,000 total purse, return as Team Canada at the 2022 Brier in Lethbridge, Alta., and earn a berth in the Olympic Trials in November at Saskatoon.
The champions will also represent Canada at the April 2-11 world men's curling championship in the Calgary bubble.
Kerri Einarson won the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last weekend. She'll represent Canada at the April 30-May 9 women's world curling championship, which was added to the bubble calendar Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 5, 2021.
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Canadian Mixed Doubles Curling Championship 2021: Results, standings, schedule and TV channel .
Canada's national mixed doubles curling championship takes place in Calgary, Alta.Canada's national curling championship begins on Thursday, with 35 teams hitting the sheets in Calgary, Alta. Normally scheduled to take place with 32 pairings, Curling Canada opted to expand. The 35 teams will represent provinces and territories (14), teams from the March 15, 2019 to March 15, 2020 Canadian Mixed Doubles Rankings (14) and teams that had previously committed to playing together but were unable to compete this year because of COVID-19 (seven).