Brad Gushue, the defending champion of the Canadian men’s curling championship, began his campaign with a win against British Columbia’s Jacques Gauthier in a round-robin opener at Budweiser Gardens.
Despite being challenged by the 2020 world junior champion, Gushue held on to win 6-5, with a steal in the ninth end and holding Gauthier to a single in the 10th.
Gauthier played well, making a freeze in the opening end and forcing Gushue to steal two in the third. The teams then exchanged singles through the eighth end.
Gushue’s team did not have to play provincial playdowns since they had an automatic Brier entry as defending champions, making this their first competitive game in about seven weeks.
In other games, Winnipeg resident Mike McEwen won his match against Quebec’s Felix Asselin, while Brendan Bottcher’s Wild Card 1 team defeated Prince Edward Island’s Tyler Smith, and Karsten Sturmay’s Wild Card 3 rink topped New Brunswick’s Scott Jones.
The playoffs begin on March 10, and the final is scheduled for March 12. The winner of the Brier will represent Canada at the April 1-9 world men’s curling championship in Ottawa.
London, Ontario, last hosted the Brier in 2011 when Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton won, and the city also hosted the 1974 playdowns. The Brier continues on Saturday with two draws before shifting to three-draw days through Thursday.
Alberta’s Kevin Koe, Manitoba’s Matt Dunstone, and Wild Card 2’s Reid Carruthers are among the other event headliners. The Canadian women’s championship was won last week by Kerri Einarson, whose Manitoba-based team will wear the Maple Leaf at the March 18-26 world women’s playdowns in Sandviken, Sweden.