Brad Gushue has done it all in his storied career. On Sunday morning, he added a new accolade to his resume when he and his team from St. John’s, N.L., won the inaugural men’s Pan Continental Curling Championship.
Team Gushue added another international gold medal to its mantel after an 11-3 win against South Korea’s Team Byeongjin Jeong in the gold-medal game at Calgary’s WinSport Event Centre.
The new event determines the nations that will compete at the world men’s and women’s championships in a similar manner to the European Curling Championships.
“You look at the Europeans (championships), and this is what they’re trying to model this event after. That has a lot of prestige for the European teams that go and compete in that, and I think this will get there,” Gushue said. “We’re still very proud of winning this. There’s lots of good teams here, and we played really well. We’re going to give ourselves a little pat on the back.”
The victory extends Team Gushue’s string of international podium appearances over the past year. The team earned bronze at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and silver at the 2022 world men’s championship.
Skip Gushue, vice-skip Mark Nichols, second E.J. Harnden and lead Geoff Walker maintained its aggressive strategy, which was the game plan all week long, intending to jump to an early lead and keep it for the remainder of the game.
By the fourth end, Canada had a six-point lead and was outshooting its opponents by 26 percentage points as a team. At skip, Gushue’s 88 per cent shooting efficiency was well beyond the 50 per cent efficiency of South Korean skip Jeong.
South Korea did make some exceptional shots early in the game to limit the damage. But as the game progressed, Canada’s prowess was more on display.
In the first end, Canada had a chance to score as many as three points. An exceptional thin double by Jeong limited Canada’s chances, and the team came out of the end with two.
Canada stole a point in the second and forced South Korea to one in the third. From then on, it was sweeter than maple syrup for the Canadians.
South Korea missed a hit on its last in the fourth end and left Team Gushue with a draw for four. In the fifth, Canada forced South Korea into a long raise takeout to try and score. It missed everything in the house, and Canada stole three.
“I felt that they were kind of in between trying to play aggressive and get back into the game but not letting the game get too out of hand. I felt like we could take advantage of that and really put the pedal to the metal and see if we could get a couple of steals, and we did,” Gushue said.
South Korea had another long runback in the sixth for as many as two. This time South Korea connected, and while it didn’t score the desired two points in need, it scored one.
The game ended in good spirits and camaraderie. With the result set in stone and teams completing the eighth end – the minimum number of ends a championship game must run – Gushue threw a through-the-legs draw on his last shot. It ran heavy and was stopped in jest by Nichols to remain in the house. The response? South Korean skip Jeong slid three-quarters of the way down the sheet, with sweeping, before releasing the stone to make a takeout, much to the enjoyment of the fans in attendance.
The gold-medal performance marks the end of a memorable week for alternate Nathan Young, who turns 20 later this month. The 19-year-old represented Newfoundland & Labrador at the 2022 Tim Hortons Brier, and Team Gushue took him under its wing, along with coach Jules Owchar and national coach Jeff Stoughton.
“Amazing experience. And how good did they play in that final and every game? I took so many things away from this week and just watching them behind the bench and talking with Jeff Stoughton and Jules. Watching them put everything they had into every shot, one shot at a time. It was a great experience,” Young said.
In the bronze-medal game on Saturday night, Team Korey Dropkin of the United States defeated Japan’s Team Riku Yanagisawa 8-7 and earned third place at the event.
The 2022 Pan Continental Curling Championships continue on Sunday with the women’s bronze-medal game. Canada’s Team Kerri Einarson takes on Team Tabitha Peterson of the United States at 1 p.m. (all times Mountain).
Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2022 Pan Continental Curling Championships are available by clicking here.