EDMONTON â€” Canada’s Brad Gushue faced few challenges during round-robin play at the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship.
The competition level picked up significantly Friday night and Gushue was more than ready.
The St. John’s skip took an early lead and pulled away with a three-point seventh end for a 7-4 victory over Sweden’s Niklas Edin in the Page playoff 1-2 game. Canada advanced to Sunday’s gold-medal game while Sweden will play in the semifinal Saturday night.
“We’ve shown that we had a pretty good week,” Gushue said. “Especially coming off (our Brier win) in St. John’s, to come here and at this point be 12-0 is impressive.
“But we’re not going to settle for that. We want to win Sunday night.”
Blowouts were the norm for Gushue during round-robin play at the Northlands Coliseum. He was pushed to 10 ends on just two occasions.
Edin, a two-time world champion, was the second seed after a 9-2 run but he struggled at times against the Canadians. He never really recovered after Gushue posted three straight singles at the start.
The Swedish skip was heavy with final throws in the second and third ends but nailed a beautiful double takeout in the fifth for a blank. He stole a point in the sixth when Gushue was off on a lightweight tap, cutting Canada’s lead to 3-2.
However, Canada took over in the seventh as Edin was short with a freeze and Gushue followed with a takeout for three.
Sweden scored a pair in the eighth end before Gushue tacked on a single in the ninth. The Canadians ran the Swedes out of rocks in the 10th for the victory.
“Even when we got back in it a little bit on the scoreboard, I’d still say we had slim to no chance to win,” Edin said. “It was the start. We needed to generate either the steal in the first or a deuce in the second, then we’d have a whole different situation.
“But when we’re down 3-0, we’re not going to win the game.”
Edin shot just 70 per cent on the night while Gushue was at 88 per cent. Canada shot 91 per cent as a team to 87 per cent for Sweden.
Edin will play the winner of the Page 3-4 matchup Saturday afternoon between third-seeded Swiss skip Peter de Cruz (8-3) and American John Shuster (8-3).
The 3-4 loser and semifinal loser will play for bronze on Sunday. The semifinal winner will play Gushue for the gold.
“We’re going to have a tough game on Sunday night no matter who we play,” Gushue said.
This is Gushue’s first appearance at the world men’s championship. He defeated 2016 world champion Kevin Koe in the Brier final last month.
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.
Notes: Eight countries have locked up berths in the 10-team field for the 2018 Winter Olympics. Host South Korea will be joined by Canada, Sweden, Great Britain (qualified as Scotland) Japan, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and the United States. The other two entries will be finalized at a qualification event in the Czech Republic in December. … The winner of the Dec. 2-10 Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings will represent Canada in Pyeongchang.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press