In front of what will be a boisterous crowd in London, Brad Gushue is looking to etch his name into the record books.
The 42-year-old Newfoundlander is looking to win a record fifth Tim Hortons Brier title as a skip, which would move him past some of the sports’ all-time greats.
After his victory over Manitoba in the 1-2 game Saturday night, he was asked if it would be on his mind in the championship game.
“It’s an opportunity further for this team to win our first, that’s more what I’m thinking about,” Gushue told the media post-game.
This year’s team has one new member in EJ Harnden, who took over as second in place of Brett Gallant.
Gushue was grateful for the rest, avoiding playing back-to-back over the weekend, but he feels having last rock is more crucial in tonight’s final.
“I think more so the hammer is important,” said Gushue. “We couldn’t wrestle that away from Matt [Dunstone] that in that game. If we come up against them or Brandon [Bottcher] who likes to hit and play it open as well, we can control the game at the start and get a lead. I think it improves our odds of winning dramatically.”
This will be Gushue’s sixth final in the past eight years. He’s learned over time to be calm and composed on the sheet during close matches.
“If I look back at being in that same situation — maybe 15 years ago — probably the anxiety level would have been much harder and much higher,” said Gushue. “I probably overthrow a few rocks and you know, the last shot that I made there, if I overthrow that at all, it was never there. To just throw the perfect weight, you know I’m proud of that.”
A victory over the winner of Manitoba (Dunstone) and wild card one (Bottcher) would put him past legends Kevin Martin, Kevin Koe, Randy Ferbey and Ernie Richardson who all won the Brier four times as a skip.
Team Canada newcomer EJ Harnden is thrilled to be in this position, as he hasn’t won a title since 2013 when he played with Brad Jacobs and Northern Ontario.
“When I joined this team this year, I said, ‘This is why I’m still playing because I want to win,’” said Harnden.
He added, “I feel like there’s so much more that I want to do in this sport, and the Brier being at the pinnacle of that, not only would I take a lot of pride in winning the Brier but I’ve won one and the last one was 2013. I want at least one more and hopefully we can make that happen.”