For the 5,000 plus fans in the stands at the Brandt Centre and the countless viewers at home on the edge of their seats watching Saskatchewan’s first Brier final since 1995, you could hear the collective sigh of resignation at the end of the 9th end. Despite a valiant effort by import skip Mike McEwen and his Saskatchewan teammates Colton Flasch, and Daniel and Kevin Marsh, a breakthrough victory was not to be. 

Team Canada’s Brad Gushue made it a three-peat on Sunday night with a 9-5 victory at the end of 9.  

The two teams duked it out in close measure until a faulty takeout by Flasch and an unfortunate hit and roll out by McEwen in the 4th end opened the door for Gushue. Sitting one in the rings, Gushue took a chance on splitting a guard and shooter into the rings, scoring three and giving last year’s winners a 5-1 margin. 

McEwen scored one in the 5th, and excitement mounted as a marvellously placed draw put the Sask squad in a position to steal three. Gushue landed a tap back, but the Sask steal of two reinvigorated the team and the audience.  

Then came that tension again as Gushue and crew scored a pair in 7 and kept their foot on the gas, forcing McEwen to a single in 8 and dealing the final blow in the 9th with a pair to put the game out of reach.  

McEwen was obviously disappointed in the outcome but retains optimism for the future given the measure of success the team experienced. 

“It hurts that we didn’t have our best game,” said McEwen, as reported by Curling Canada. “You could tell both teams were struggling with the ice. but Brad was stellar the first four ends. 

“But I’m proud of what we’ve done in six months … and we’re not done yet. Despite the result today this was a hell of an accomplishment.” 

For Gushue and his squad of Mark Nichols, E.J. Harnden and Geoff Walker, it’s the sixth Brier title and their third in a row. They’ll go on to represent Canada once again at the Worlds, March 30-April 7 in Switzerland.