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Sunday, March 11, 2018

REGINA - Brad Gushue is a win away from repeating as Canadian men's curling champion.

Gushue advanced to Sunday's final by beating Ontario's John Epping 6-2 in Saturday's 1-2 Page Playoff Game between the top two seeds.

Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker won the Tim Hortons Brier last year in Gushue's hometown of St. John's, N.L.

It was Gushue's first Canadian title after 13 tries.

The foursome would be the first back-to-back Brier winners since Alberta's Kevin Martin in 2008 and 2009 with a victory Sunday.

Gushue went 10-1 to earn the top playoff seeding ahead of Epping at 9-2. Ontario must beat Alberta's Brendan Bottcher in Sunday's semifinal to earn a rematch with Gushue.

Changes in the format to include 16 teams meant eliminating the bronze-medal game Sunday to accommodate the semifinal starting late morning local time.

So Alberta or Ontario will need a pair of wins Sunday to take the title.

"I hope they kick the crap out of each other really,'' Gushue said. "Wear each other down as much as possible.''

Gushue made the most of having hammer to start Saturday's game. He was in control throughout with deuces in the second and sixth ends and a steal of one in the fourth.

The skip was 100 per cent in shooting accuracy, although Gushue thought that was generous. His team was rated 91 per cent to Ontario's 83.

The earlier playoff game between Alberta and Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs had more suspense. Bottcher scored two in the 10th and stole a point in an extra end for a 6-5 win.

(Canadian Press)