Brad Gushue defeats Matt Dunstone 7-5 to repeat as Tim Hortons Brier champ

LONDON, Ont. — Brad Gushue successfully defended his Canadian men's curling championship on Sunday with a 7-5 win over Manitoba's Matt Dunstone.

With Manitoba sitting two, Gushue made a game-winning draw in the 10th end for the victory.

"What a finish," Gushue said. "What a game."

Gushue scored three points in the eighth end — the first multiple-point end of the game — but Dunstone answered with a deuce. In the 10th, Dunstone tapped a rock with his final stone to make Gushue draw the four-foot ring.

"We were down and out after the eighth end and we made him throw a tough shot to win the Brier," Dunstone said. "It just speaks volumes about this team."

It was the fifth Tim Hortons Brier title in seven years for Gushue's St. John's, N.L.-based team.

The defending champions started the game with hammer but the Manitoba side applied early pressure. Gushue did well to blank the opener but Dunstone sat three in the second end to force a draw.

Each team forced the other over the next three ends with some strong shotmaking.

Manitoba second Colton Lott and third B.J. Neufeld each made slight mistakes in the sixth end. But a Dunstone freeze held Gushue to one as the veteran skip was heavy with his second shot.

Canada's big end was set up after Lott flashed a rock and Neufeld rubbed a stone on a freeze attempt. Dunstone's hit-and-roll attempt didn't quite get to the right spot and Gushue made him pay with a hit and stick.

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

Dunstone put the pressure on in the 10th end of the semifinal, drawing around two stones to sit on the side of the button. Bottcher's draw on the other side was light, giving Manitoba a steal of two and the victory.

"We're gritty. We're tenacious. We're never out of it," Dunstone said. "This is just a wonderful team that never gives up."

Gushue earned a direct berth to the championship game with a 5-4 victory over Dunstone in the Page 1-2 game on Saturday night. The Team Canada skip stole a point in the 10th end.

Bottcher earned his semifinal berth with a 6-3 win over Ontario's Mike McEwen in the Page 3-4 game.

"It was just a tough shot that was missed," Bottcher said of his final throw against Dunstone. "All the credit to Matt. He put his last one in the perfect spot."

Gushue beat Kevin Koe in last year's final in Lethbridge, Alta.

His team of Mark Nichols, E.J. Harnden and Geoff Walker will represent Canada at the April 1-9 world men's curling championship in Ottawa.

Dunstone is the current leader in the Canadian men's team rankings. Bottcher is just behind in second place and Gushue is third.

Gushue's team will take home $108,000 of the $300,000 total purse. Dunstone's side gets $60,000 and Bottcher's side will pick up $40,000.

Announced attendance for the final was 6,562 to bring the overall total to 95,338. The venue seats 9,090 for curling.

Kerri Einarson won the Canadian women's curling championship last month in Kamloops, B.C.

Her Manitoba-based team will wear the Maple Leaf at the March 18-26 world women's curling championship in Sandviken, Sweden.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 12, 2023.

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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press