Brad Gushue defeats Matt Dunstone for a record-breaking 5th Brier Title as Skip

Brad Gushue's Team Canada celebrates their 7-5 win over Matt Dunstone's Team Manitoba in Sunday's Brier Finals at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario.  (Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press - photo credit)

Brad Gushue’s Team Canada celebrates their 7-5 win over Matt Dunstone’s Team Manitoba in Sunday’s Brier Finals at the Budweiser Gardens in London, Ontario. (Geoff Robins/The Canadian Press – photo credit)

Brad Gushue successfully defended his Canadian men’s curling championship with a 7-5 win over Matt Dunstone of Manitoba in London, Ontario on Sunday.

Championship at stake and a chance of a tie for victory. This was Gushue’s wheelhouse, and he delivered again when it mattered.

With Manitoba sitting two in the 10th end, Gushue pulled the four-foot ring with his final shot and won his fifth Tim Hortons Brier title in seven years.

“I trusted it. We made it. It’s great,” Gushue said.

Dunstone gave up three points in the eighth end – the game’s first multipoint ending – but responded with a deuce in the ninth.

He tapped a rock with his final shot in the 10th to put pressure on his opponent. But just like his first Brier win in 2017 at home in St. John’s, Gushue came through.

“I thought I did it and the boys judged it perfectly,” he said. “You just have to rely on 25 or 30 years of work that you’ve put in.”

CLOCK | Gushue beats Dunstone in Brier finals:

However, there were some nerves when Gushue settled into the cottage in Budweiser Gardens. He missed a tie in the sixth end and was heavy with both throws in the seventh.

“I was just trying not to crash it,” he said. “I didn’t feel like I was 100 percent dialed in, so that made it a little bit more jittery.”

His 2017 game winner needed a big swing to hit the eight-foot mark. This time, leader Geoff Walker and second EJ Harnden scrubbed it across the first half of the face before cleaning it the rest of the way.

“I’ve had a chance to see that a few times,” said Gushue VP Mark Nichols. “I never get sick of it.”

Dunstone, hands in pockets, could only stand and watch as the stone settled beside the button.

“We were down after the eighth end and we got him throwing a hard shot to win the Brier,” he said. “It just speaks volumes about this team.”

The win makes Gushue the first Skip ever to win five Brier titles.

Colleen Jones and CBC sportscaster Devin Heroux take you behind the scenes at Brier’s graduation ceremony That curling show.

The defending champion started the game with a hammer, but the Manitoba team pressed early. Gushue did well to blind the first set, but Dunstone put three in the second end to force a tie.

Each team forced the other through the next three ends with some powerful punches.

Second Manitoba Colton Lott and third BJ Neufeld each made slight errors in the sixth end. But a Dunstone freeze pinned Gushue as the veteran was heavy with his second shot.

Canada’s big end was set up after Lott flashed a rock and Neufeld rubbed a rock on a freeze attempt. Dunstone’s hit-and-roll attempt didn’t quite land where it should, and Gushue made him pay with a hit-and-stick.

“It just felt like every little blink was losing that game,” Gushue said. “Luckily we got it from them in the eighth end and we just kept going. But man, oh man, they played so hard.”

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press

Dunstone reached the title game earlier in the day with a 7-5 win over Wild Card 1’s Brendan Bottcher.

Dunstone pressed in the 10th end of the semifinals, moving two checkers around to sit on the button’s side. Bottcher’s draw, on the other hand, was a small one, giving Manitoba a steal of two and the win.

“We are persistent. We are stubborn. We’re never upset,” Dunstone said.

Gushue secured a direct spot in the championship game with a 5-4 win over Dunstone in Saturday night’s Page 1-2 game. Canadian Skip stole a point in the 10th end.

Gushue defeated Kevin Koe in last year’s finals in Lethbridge, Alta.

His team will represent Canada at the Men’s Curling World Championships April 1-9 in Ottawa.

Harnden, who won Olympic gold with Brad Jacobs in 2014, joined the Gushue team during the offseason. Gushue won his previous Brier titles with Nichols, Walker and Brett Gallant, who now plays with Bottcher.

“I have friends who say, ‘I can’t believe you won three Briers.’ [Then it’s] four, now five all of a sudden,” Walker said. “Hard to believe.”

Randy Ferbey is the all-time leader with six career Brier titles [four as a skip]. Gushue has won the most national crowns as a skip, ahead of Ferbey, Ernie Richardson, Kevin Koe and Kevin Martin.

Dunstone is the current leader in the Canada men’s team rankings. Bottcher is close behind in second place and Gushue in third place.

Gushue’s team will take home $108,000 of the $300,000 total. Dunstone’s side will receive $60,000 and Bottcher’s side will receive $40,000.

The announced attendance for the finals was 6,562, for a total of 95,338. The venue offers 9,090 seats for curling.

This was the last Brier with Tim Hortons as title sponsor. The 2024 event, which does not yet have a title sponsor, will be held in Regina.

Kerri Einarson won the Canadian women’s curling championship in Kamloops, BC last month

Their Manitoba-based team will wear the Maple Leaf at the Women’s Curling World Championships March 18-26 in Sandviken, Sweden.


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