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Gushue wins first Brier title

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ST. JOHN'S, N.L.—When Brad Gushue was a youngster, he wrote his 10 goals in curling on a sheet of Bristol board.

He had achieved nine of them at the start of the Tim Hortons Brier.

Gushue then delivered when it counted last night and finally can tick the national men's curling championship off his list.

Gushue came through with a draw just inside the top of the eight-foot ring with his final throw for a dramatic 7-6 win over Canada's Kevin Koe.

“I knew we had it," Gushue said. ”I was somewhat celebrating from the hogline in because I felt it was going to be a little closer to the button.

"But anyway it turned out [well], it doesn't matter.

“Ten from years now, you're never going to know what shot you had to win,” he added.

“It's just the matter that you won.”

The raucous sell-out crowd at Mile One Centre fell silent as Gushue settled into the hack for his last shot.

The throw looked a little light at the start but his teammates delivered a killer sweep to get it just past the Canada stone for the victory.

Gushue threw his broom in the air in celebration as the 6,471 spectators in attendance roared their approval.

“I've been close so many times and we as a team have been close," Gushue noted. ”To finally win it—and win it at home—you couldn't ask for a better story.

“It's awesome.”

This was Gushue's 14th career Brier appearance and third trip to the final.

He's the first Newfoundland skip to hoist the Brier Tankard since Jack MacDuff back in 1976.

“To stand here in our hometown, in our home province, as Brier champions is just unbelievable,” said vice-skip Mark Nichols.

Gushue, who won Olympic gold in 2006, lost in last year's final to Koe and fell to Ontario's Glenn Howard in the 2007 final.

The Newfoundland and Labrador team now will represent Canada at the Ford world men's curling championship next month in Edmonton.

Koe, meanwhile, was looking for his fourth career Brier crown. He also won in 2010 and 2014.

“I'm proud of the guys, we fought back and made a game of it,” he noted.

“It probably makes it a little more disappointing.”

After an opening blank, the local favourites took advantage after Canada second Brent Laing flashed a stone.

With Newfoundland and Labrador sitting three, Koe took one opposition stone out with his last throw but Gushue followed with a draw for a 3-0 lead.

The St. John's side battled some injuries throughout the competition. Gushue has been somewhat limited all season due to a hip/groin issue and lead Geoff Walker is nursing a shoulder injury.

Nichols frequently helped Walker and second Brett Gallant with sweeping duties.

Nichols also was in form with his shooting—delivering a nice double take-out to force Koe to settle for a blank in the third end.

Earlier in the day, Manitoba's Mike McEwen beat Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs 7-5 in an extra end to win bronze.

McEwen, who lost the semi-final to Koe on Saturday night, used his final throw to hit the Northern Ontario stone off the button for the win.

“As much as we were hurting pretty bad and weren't playing for the colour of medal we wanted to be playing for, we still gave it our all and it mattered,” McEwen said.

The afternoon showdown was a rematch of last year's bronze-medal game, when Jacobs defeated McEwen 7-6 in an extra end in Ottawa.

Koe and his team of Laing, lead Ben Hebert, and third Marc Kennedy defeated Gushue 9-5 in last year's gold-medal game.

This was the first time the Brier has been played in St. John's since 1972.

Overall attendance for the 2017 event was 122,592.

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