Canada’s Brad Gushue clinches first seed

EDMONTON — Canada’s Brad Gushue is the first to admit his St. John’s side 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 unbeaten skip locked up the first seed in the playoffs Thursday by posting his seventh straight rout at the Northlands Coliseum. Gushue’s latest victory was a 9-2 romp over Italy’s Joel Retornaz.

“We basically try to control the scoreboard,” Gushue said. “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.”

Gushue hasn’t really been tested since an 8-6 win over Sweden’s Niklas Edin last Sunday. The 2006 Olympic champion has a whopping 86-31 edge in overall points.

“I’m a little bit surprised by it, but we’re playing at a very high level,” Gushue said. “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. I’ve seen some different calls.”

Against Italy, Gushue scored a pair in the second end and put the game out of reach with five points in the fourth. The teams shook hands after the minimum six ends.

Gushue will try to complete a perfect run through the round-robin against Norway’s Steffen Walstad on Thursday night.

Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker will have hammer in Friday’s Page playoff 1-2 game against Sweden.

Edin (8-2) dropped a 7-3 decision to American John Shuster in the afternoon draw and closed out his round-robin against Dutch skip Jaap Van Dorp in the late game.

Third-seeded Swiss skip Peter de Cruz (8-3) will play Shuster (8-3) in the Page 3-4 game on Saturday.

“Those guys are capable of curling 95 per cent games,” Gushue told reporters after the morning draw. ”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. One bad miss, an untimely miss, it can all switch around.”

China, Japan, Norway and Scotland were tied at 5-5 entering the final draw. Italy was next at 4-7, Germany was 3-8, the Netherlands was 1-9 and Russia was 0-10.

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.”

The Page 1-2 winner will advance to Sunday’s gold-medal game and the loser will play the 3-4 winner in the semifinal Saturday night.

The 3-4 loser and semifinal loser will play for bronze on Sunday. The semifinal winner will play the 1-2 winner for the gold.

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 per cent genuine when I say I don’t care about it,” he said. “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.”

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