Gushue rink clinches top seed

The Canadian Press
Gregory Strong

EDMONTON–Canada’s Brad Gushue is the first to admit his St. John’s rink is not known as a high-scoring team.
You wouldn’t know it by looking at the scoresheet at the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship.
The veteran skip locked up the first seed in the playoffs while capping an undefeated round-robin yesterday at the Northlands Coliseum.
Gushue (11-0) dumped Italy’s Joel Retornaz 9-2 in the morning, then doubled Norway’s Steffen Walstad 8-4 last night.
“We basically try to control the scoreboard,” Gushue noted. “We’re more than happy being tied up with the hammer coming home.
“So this week has been a little bit odd for us to have these lopsided games.
“But I think it just comes down to how well we’re playing and we’re getting some misses out of the other teams,” he added.
Gushue’s last eight victories either have been routs or comfortable wins. He hasn’t really been tested since an 8-6 win over Sweden’s Niklas Edin last Sunday.
The 2006 Olympic champ has scored a whopping 94 points on the week against just 35.
“I’m a little bit surprised by it, but we’re playing at a very high level,” Gushue reasoned.
“I’m a little bit surprised that some of the teams haven’t played a little bit better against us.
“I think maybe we’ve put the pressure on them and maybe they’re trying a little bit too hard and trying some different things,” he noted.
“I’ve seen some different calls.”
Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant, and lead Geoff Walker will have hammer in tonight’s Page playoff 1-2 game against Sweden.
Edin (9-2) fell 7-3 to American John Shuster in the afternoon draw, then closed out his round-robin with an 8-2 rout of Dutch skip Jaap Van Dorp.
Third-seeded Swiss skip Peter de Cruz (8-3) will play Shuster (8-3) in the Page 3-4 game tomorrow.
“Those [playoff teams] are capable of curling 95 percent games,” Gushue said. “So even if we have control of the ice, even if we continue to play the way we’re playing, someone could still play better.
“You guys know the nature of curling,” he added.
“One bad miss, an untimely miss, it can all switch around.”
This is Gushue’s first appearance at this competition. He has been pushed to a full 10 ends on just two occasions.
“Hopefully, we continue to play the way we [have been],” Gushue said. “I think if we do that, it’s going to take a hell of a game from someone to beat us.
“But that’s not to say that it’s not going to happen.
“And we still have to do our part to play that hell of a game,” he warned.
The Page 1-2 winner will advance to Sunday’s gold-medal game while the loser will play the 3-4 winner in the semi-final tomorrow night.
“The 1-2 game is always a little bit more fun to play in because you do have that safety net there,” Gushue noted.
“But you don’t want to use it.”
The 3-4 loser and semi-final loser will play for bronze Sunday afternoon.
The semi-final winner will play the 1-2 winner for the gold that night.
Gushue has a chance to become the first skip since Winnipeg’s Kerry Burtnyk to run the table at this event.
Burtnyk swept the 10-team field en route to the 1995 title in Brandon, Man.
The world championship now features 12 teams and a different playoff system.
Gushue said his main focus is getting to the championship game. He’s not at all concerned about going undefeated along the way.
“I’m 100 percent genuine when I say I don’t care about it,” he stressed.
“When I look back at all the Briers and worlds, I couldn’t tell you anybody’s records.
“All that really matters at the end is that your name is on the trophy.”