Brier: Brad Gushue's rink keeps pace in pursuit of peerless Northern Ontario
Newfoundland and Labrador rink edges Quebec to move to 7-1
Brad Gushue's Newfoundland and Labrador rink overcame an early 3-0 deficit to defeat Jean-Michel Menard's Quebec rink 7-6 Wednesday evening in Ottawa to improve to 7-1 at the Brier, just behind undefeated Northern Ontario (8-0).
Gushue trailed 1-0 when he allowed Quebec to steal two in the second end of the 13th draw when he came up light on his draw against two stones. Newfoundland scored two in the third and fifth ends and then stole a point from Quebec in the eighth end to take their first lead of the game.
Menard tied the game at 6-6 with a single in the ninth before Gushue hit and stuck with his final rock in the 10th for the victory.
Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs remained unbeaten with a one-sided 9-2 victory over Jamie Koe and his Northwest Territories rink that secured a playoff berth for the 2013 Brier champion.
Manitoba's Mike McEwen improved to 6-2, good for third place, downing BC's Jim Cotter, 8-3. Kevin Koe and Alberta held fourth place and the final playoff spot with a 6-3 record.
Team Canada's Pat Simmons was next in line at 5-4.
Family affair for Ontario
It was a family affair at the Tim Hortons Brier on Wednesday.
Ontario alternate Joey Hart made his national men's curling championship debut in a 9-4 win over Prince Edward Island's Adam Casey. The TD Place crowd let out a big cheer when Hart left the bench area to join his father, Richard Hart, and teammates Glenn and Scott Howard on the ice.
"There's nothing like it," a grinning Joey Hart said after the game. "To play in a Brier is one thing, to get to play with your Dad is pretty cool."
It was the first time that Hart had curled with his father in a competitive setting. With the game well in hand, the 18-year-old opened the eighth and final end by delivering a smooth throw that caught a touch of the button.
Joey said his Dad weighed in with some advice before he stepped into the hack.
"'Don't hog it.' And then afterwards he said when I was sweeping, 'Don't burn it,"' Joey said, referring to a pair of violations he managed to avoid. "That's all you've got to do. Then just smile pretty for the photos."
Second Adam Spencer, who is filling in for vice-skip Wayne Middaugh while he recovers from a broken leg, took a break so Hart could make his debut.
It was the first time in Brier history that two father-son duos were in the same on-ice lineup, a Curling Canada spokesman said.
"That was the fastest my heart was racing the whole [week] was filling that form out to get Joey in the game and then watching him throw those first two rocks," Middaugh said. "That's fantastic and to me, that's the type of thing that Brier memories are made of.
"And for Rich, that's the treat of a lifetime."
Scott Howard served as the team alternate when his father last won the Brier in 2012. Scott represented Ontario at last year's playdowns with skip Mark Kean before joining his Dad's team this season as lead.
Joey Hart, meanwhile, usually plays for the University of Guelph out of the Guelph Curling Club. He has played the occasional men's league game with his father but nothing quite like this.
"That was simply awesome," Glenn said. "Obviously to have a chance to play with my son is surreal and then to bring out Joey to play with Rich — the father-son act — it was pretty special. Really, really, really cool."
The final round-robin draw is scheduled for Friday morning and it will be followed by tiebreaker games if necessary. The Page playoffs start Friday night and the medal games are set for Sunday.
The Brier winner will represent Canada at the world men's curling championship in Basel, Switzerland.
With files from The Canadian Press