Bottcher hands defending champion Gushue his first defeat at Brier

Alberta skip Brendan Bottcher delivers a rock as they play Northwest Territories at the Tim Hortons Brier curling championship at the Brandt Centre in Regina on Sunday, March 4, 2018. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)

REGINA — Defending champion Brad Gushue has suffered his first loss at the 2018 Canadian men’s curling championship, falling 10-7 to Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher in Wednesday’s morning draw.

Bottcher’s Edmonton rink scored three in the ninth end. Wielding the hammer in the 10th, Gushue and his defending Brier championship rink from St. John’s, N.L., couldn’t come up with the big end necessary to recover.

The result created a tie atop Pool A at 5-1 between Gushue, Bottcher and wild-card entry Mike McEwen of Winnipeg.

McEwen joined the leaders with a 6-2 win over Newfoundland and Labrador. Skip Greg Smith and his St. John’s team fell to 1-5.

In other early action, British Columbia won its second straight match with a 7-3 victory over Northwest Territories. Both teams were at 2-4 after 12 draws.

Nova Scotia improved to 3-3 with a 7-4 win over Yukon (1-5).

Wednesday’s afternoon draw included a match between Manitoba and Northern Ontario. The teams were tied atop Pool B with Ontario at 5-1.

The Pool A teams returned for the late draw, which featured a matchup between Bottcher and McEwen.

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