EDMONTON – Canada’s Brad Gushue wanted to build on his team’s strong performance during the national playdowns in his first appearance at the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship.
His St. John’s rink has done just that over the first few days at the Northlands Coliseum. It should give pause to other teams hoping to reach the top step of the podium.
“I think we’re in a little bit better form to be quite honest,” Gushue said Monday. “For this early, we’re certainly (playing well). As you guys saw at the Brier, we struggled the first five games. But here I think we’re building.
“I don’t think we’re firing on all cylinders yet but I certainly like where we are.”
Gushue electrified Mile One Centre in his hometown last month with a victory over Kevin Koe in the Tim Hortons Brier final.
The 2006 Olympic champion is off to a strong start at 7-0 after 11 draws of round-robin play. His top-ranked team beat China Tuesday afternoon and Germany in the evening, after dumping Scotland’s David Murdoch 8-2 on Monday afternoon and then beat American John Shuster by the same score in that evening.
Gushue was in control from the start against Murdoch, who won Olympic silver at the 2014 Sochi Games.
Gushue opened with a deuce and forced Murdoch to draw for one in the second end. An open draw for two gave Gushue a 4-1 lead and he added another pair when Murdoch was heavy with his final throw in the fourth.
The teams exchanged singles before shaking hands after seven ends.
“I’m happy the game went the way it did,” Gushue said. “It’s always nice to get a game where it doesn’t come down to the last rock.”
Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker looked out of sorts early in Saturday’s opener before settling down for a win over Switzerland.
A blowout win over Russia on Sunday morning was followed by another solid performance in a victory over Edin, who won world titles in 2013 and 2015.
Gushue shot 98 per cent against Murdoch, who was well back at 71 per cent. Overall, Canada shot 93 per cent to 81 per cent for Scotland.
Canada coach Jules Owchar has been impressed with his team’s form.
“Just shoot our 90 if we can and, ‘OK boys, see what you can do against us,'” he said.
In the nightcap, Gushue opened with three points before giving up back-to-back singles. A steal of three in the sixth end put the game out of reach.
“We’re not going to change our approach,” Nichols said. “We’ll just try to dial in a little bit more. We always play to give Brad the last rock in the last end.
“If we’re tied up coming home then we’re in a really good spot and that’s what we’re trying to do every game.”
Gushue faces the Netherlands in Wednesday’s morning draw. Round-robin play continues through Thursday. The Page playoffs begin Friday and the medal games are scheduled for Sunday.
Koe skipped Canada to a gold medal at last year’s world championship in Basel, Switzerland.