Canada’s Team Brad Gushue playing for second-straight gold at 2023 Pan Continentals
Canada’s Team Brad Gushue will defend its gold medal after a barn-burner of a semifinal against Team Andrew Stopera of the United States at the 2023 Pan Continental Curling Championships.
Team Gushue, from St. John’s, N.L., defeated the Americans 8-3 on Friday morning at the Kelowna Curling Club. The win puts Canada into the gold-medal game on Saturday at 3 p.m. (all times Pacific), against South Korea.
Canada’s Gushue, vice-skip Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden, lead Geoff Walker, alternate Jim Cotter, coach Caleb Flaxey and national coach Jeff Stoughton play against the only team it is yet to defeat at the 2023 Pan Continentals. South Korea’s Team Jongduk Park won its semifinal game and will face Canada in the gold-medal game. The two teams played in the first round-robin game of the week, with South Korea coming away with a win.
"We want to be in that game. We play Korea, so we get an opportunity to play them again. We had a rough game against them the first game, so hopefully, we can give them our best and see how it turns out,” said Gushue.
Canada and the United States excelled at forcing but also missed some opportunities to score more than one. With the first crooked number scored - Canada’s three-ender in the ninth end - coming so late in the game, it was impossible for the Americans to come back in the 10th, with Canada stealing another two points on a last-ditch effort from the U.S.A.
“There were a lot of opportunities for crooked numbers and it just seemed that in the last couple shots of each end, one team would make a shot to take it away, or one team would miss a shot to take it away. Fortunately for us, we got that hogged rock on Andrew’s shot (in the ninth end) and that gave us a good opportunity to score two, then we were fortunate to get three because you don’t often see Korey miss two doubles, so we were a little lucky on that one.”
Tied at three, that hogged rock by Stopera - who calls the game and throws third stones - was the difference. Nichols made a takeout, which distributed three Canadian stones across the house. Despite a couple of double attempts by fourth-rock thrower Korey Dropkin, Gushue had an open draw for three and broke the deadlock in this game.
This game’s bountiful selection of high-quality shots could have packed any highlight reel.
In the third end and up by one, Canada’s Nichols made a runback double, counter-punched with a hit-and-roll behind cover by Dropkin. Not to be outdone, Gushue answered with a perfect freeze, which led to the Americans taking one to tie the game.
One end later, Gushue executed a 20-foot runback to score one against the United States, not your typical force. Such was the case in the eighth end when Canada was up by a point and the United States was sitting three. On their last, the Canadians made a double with the shot stone rolling across the width of the house and corner-freeze onto another American stone. Dropkin and the Americans had little real estate to work with and couldn’t take out Canada’s stone and stick the shooter for a second point. The U.S.A. scored one to tie the game for the third time.
“We had the angle. I just wish I could throw it as hard as Mark or Korey because I could have made a triple if I could throw it hard enough. Fortunately, I made the double and roll and made a little freeze there. We tried the shot and thought it was just there, but it was extremely difficult. That was the key shot because I think if they scored two, the odds of them winning would go up dramatically, but the force put control back in our hands,” said Gushue.
Canada’s Team Gushue is in its second straight Pan Continental gold-medal game. Last year, Team Gushue defeated South Korea, led by skip Byeongjin Jeong, at the inaugural event in Calgary.
“Any event we play in, we want to be in that final. We’ve been taking every step towards that this week and now we’re there. We need to just tighten those screws just a little bit more and come out firing in the final,” said Nichols post-game.
In the other semifinal, South Korea’s Team Park defeated Japan’s Team Riku Yanagisawa 8-7. The United States and Japan face each other in today’s men’s bronze-medal game at 7 p.m.
The women’s bronze-medal game is coming up next. Canada’s Team Kerri Einarson is against Team Tabitha Peterson of the United States at 2 p.m.
Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2023 Pan Continental Curling Championships are available by CLICKING HERE.
TSN.ca and the TSN App will carry selected Canadian games from the 2023 Pan Continental Curling Championships. CLICK HERE for the full schedule.