Gushue, Tippin stay perfect to take Stu Sells Toronto Tankard

In part two, Mark and Brad explain how they've gotten even closer over the past summer. A new fitness business tests their relationship off the ice. Also, Pete Steski takes them on a scenic harbour cruise to reminisce on a few fun stories.

TORONTO — Team Gushue successfully retained the Stu Sells Toronto Tankard and this time actually won it with their skip in the lineup.

The St. John’s, N.L., club claimed the title a year ago without Brad Gushue, who was on the injured reserve due to a hip/groin issue. Third Mark Nichols moved up to the skip role with Adam Spencer subbing at vice duties (second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker remained in their front-end positions).

With Gushue back in business this time, the reigning world champions went on another 6-0 run in the World Curling Tour men’s event capped with a 4-2 win over Codey Maus’s team in Monday night’s final at the High Park Club.

“It’s nice to actually win so the guys can’t hold it over my head that I haven’t won this one before,” Gushue said with a laugh. “It was a good week. We played well. We got some good breaks, I’m not going to lie. We had some timely misses from other teams, but any time you can get a win is good. It’s definitely something to build off of.”

It’s the third World Curling Tour title through four events for Gushue following the team’s victory at the Swiss Cup Basel overseas last weekend and the Tour Challenge Tier 1 at the start of September in Regina. Still, Gushue believes the team can improve from here, especially as they anticipate they’ll finally have ice soon back home in St. John’s.

“I’m looking forward to actually getting home and getting some practice ice where we can work on some technical stuff because so far this year we’ve just been playing games,” Gushue said. “We’ve developed some bad habits.”

A key stretch of the season is on the horizon for Team Gushue with two major Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournaments coming up — the Masters in Lloydminster, Sask., and the Boost National in Sault Ste. Marie, Ont. — plus the Canadian Olympic Curling Trials fast approaching in December.

“It’s a little bit of smoke and mirrors right now, our results. Having said that we’re still making some good shots, don’t get me wrong, but I definitely see some room for improvement,” Gushue said. “Really going forward now, we’re looking to getting on the ice, practising every day, working on some stuff and really just fine-tuning. I think once we get to the Slams in Lloydminster and in particular in Sault Ste. Marie, that’s when we’re going to be able to kind of tell how our form is leading into the trials.”

Gushue went 3-0 in the triple knockout to qualify A side. He defeated Jordan Chandler of Sudbury, Ont., 7-2 during the morning quarterfinals and Halifax’s Jamie Murphy 5-4 in the early afternoon semifinals.

The No. 1 ranked Gushue settled for a single to start the final hitting against three counters. Maus blanked the second and was forced to draw for one in the third to tie it with Gushue sitting a stone buried at the back of the eight-foot circle.

Gushue split the rings in the fourth to set up the hit for a deuce and stole one in the fifth to make it 4-1.

Maus blanked the sixth and hit and stuck for just a single in seven. Fourth Scott McDonald was light on his first throw in eight, allowing Gushue to make an easy open hit on the lone Maus stone in the house to run them out of rocks.

Maus, who throws third stones, is supported by McDonald, second Wesley Forget and lead Jeff Grant. The London, Ont., team, ranked 45th on the WCT’s Order of Merit, also qualified through the A side of the triple knockout at 3-0, beat Team Hall, with spare skip Mike Harris, of Kitchener, Waterloo, Ont., 7-3 in the quarterfinals and Norway’s Team Ulsrud 7-4 in the semis.

Meanwhile, Woodstock’s Team Tippin also posted a perfect record on the women’s side going 7-0 and wrapping things up with a 5-2 win over Team Cadorin of Thornhill in an all-Ontario final.

“Actually all today we’ve had really close games right down to the last rock of the extra ends,” said skip Julie Tippin, who is ranked 20th in the Order of Merit and holds a spot in the Olympic pre-trials. “All the teams are great here and we’re happy to get in such a good day of curling.”

Tippin opened with hammer and settled for a point in the first. After back-to-back blanks for Cadorin, the force was strong with singles back and forth through the following four ends and Tippin up 3-2 without the hammer coming home. Cadorin was unable to grab shot rock with her last, however, and Tippin tacked on a steal of two.

It’s the second consecutive WCT title this season for Tippin, third Chantal Duhaime, second Rachelle Vink and lead Tess Bobbie after capturing the KW Fall Classic title two weeks ago in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ont.

“We’re kind of exactly where we want to be right now. We’ve built our schedule to be peaking around this time and going forward for the trials,” Tippin said. “We’re happy with how we’re playing and we’ve just got to carry it forward.”

Team Tippin topped the round-robin table with a 4-0 record, defeated Fredericton’s Team Armstrong 7-4 in the quarterfinals and stole a point in the extra end to clip Team McCarville of Thunder Bay, Ont., 6-5 during the semifinals.

While it was a long day winning three straight games, Tippin believes experience was key towards grinding it out.

“We’ve done that a few times. We actually just did it in Kitchener two weeks ago,” she said. “We just [take it] one shot at a time. We’ve actually been working out a lot all summer to try and build our stamina for days this. We’re prepared for it.”

Skip Chrissy Cadorin, who is 41st on the Order of Merit, is flanked by third Joanne Curtis, second Julia Weagle and lead Sarah Jagger. They went 3-1 through round-robin play, stole three in the first end during a 5-3 upset win over Team Fleury of Sudbury, Ont., in the quarterfinals and beat Toronto’s Team Duncan 9-6 in an extra end during the semis.