Brad Gushue clinches playoff berth at men's curling worlds
Canadian rink falls to U.S. for 2nd tournament loss in late draw
A spot in the playoffs secured at the men's world curling championship, Canada's Brad Gushue says his team has work to do to peak for them.
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The defending champions were 8-2 behind Sweden's Niklas Edin and Scotland's Bruce Mouat tied at 9-1 after play concluded Thursday.
With former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper watching at the Orleans Arena seats, Canada lost 6-5 to Greg Persinger of the U.S. on Thursday night. Gushue had won seven in a row prior to that loss.
Gushue beat China's Dejia Zou 7-4 earlier in the day.
Canada, Scotland, Sweden and Norway's Steffen Walstad (7-4) are assured of four of the six playoff berths. Those teams will jockey for playoff seedings Friday when the preliminary round concludes.
Key match against Sweden upcoming
Gushue faces Edin in the morning draw before wrapping up against Germany (1-9) at night.
"We've got to find that next level," Gushue said. "We're not where I'd like us to be. I feel my game is not where I'd like it to be and so there's certainly some frustration there."
"We're not where I'd like us to be. I feel my game is not where I'd like it to be and so there's certainly some frustration there."
Switzerland's Mark Pfister at 6-4, Russia's Alexey Timofeev and South Korea's ChangMin Kim tied at 5-5, and the U.S. at 4-6, were chasing the fifth and sixth playoff berths Friday.
The Scots beat Canada on the first day of the tournament and would be ranked higher in the event of a tied record.
Under the new format this year, six teams makes playoffs instead of the traditional four. The top two get byes to Saturday's semifinals while three to six square off in the quarterfinals earlier that day.
The medal games are Sunday.
Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker from St. John's, N.L., went undefeated to win the world title last year in Edmonton.
Yet to replicate 2017 form
And while they're in contention to repeat in Las Vegas, they've yet to replicate the seemingly unshakable zone they were in while winning a second straight Canadian championship in Regina last month.
Tied 5-5, the U.S. had hammer in the 10th on Thursday. With two Canadian stones at the top of the 12-foot rings, Persinger drew the four-foot for the win.
A missed double takeout by Persinger with his first shot in the ninth allowed Gushue to lay three.
The American skip didn't miss his second attempt on the double. Gushue drew in for two.
Down two points after seven ends, Gushue's draw to lay two was short of the rings, forcing him to blank the eighth.
His shooter rolled out on a hit and roll in the sixth, leaving Persinger a draw for the deuce in seven.
"They played a great game. Certainly deserved to win," Gushue said. "It's a little bit frustrating at times where we would miss a shot by an inch and get a terrible result. They would miss by a foot and get a rosy result.
"I got a little frustrated there at a couple points in the game which didn't help us. At the end, the ice got a little slow and I got burned by it. I missed a draw in eight which was a big miss. "
The 8,000-seat Orleans Arena was almost two-thirds full for the draw — the biggest crowd yet — and duelling chants of "Canada" and "U-S-A" broke out.
Target on their back
Tied 3-3 at the fifth-end break against the Americans, it was the first time in the tournament Canada didn't have a lead after five.
Gushue feels the opposition sees the Maple Leaf and ups their game accordingly.
Canada's Kevin Koe had a similar opinion at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, where Canada was shut out of team curling medals.
"It certainly feels like everybody we play against is playing better than they have throughout the week," Gushue said. "The numbers that I see are indicative of that.
"Nobody is really giving it to us like they did at last year's worlds or even at the Brier this year. We've got to deal with it.
"We're obviously not out of it, but it sucks losing. It really does."
The World Curling Federation announced prior to the evening draw that Canadian icemaker and innovator Shorty Jenkins has been inducted into the World Curling Hall of Fame posthumously.
Jenkins, who was born in Hanna, Alta., died at the age of 77 in 2013.