OTTAWA — It’s the reigning Olympic champion playing the reigning world champion in a pivotal curling match Monday night (7 p.m. ET) at the Roar of the Rings.
Four years ago Brad Jacobs went on a somewhat improbable undefeated run at the trials to win it all and represent Canada at the Olympics. The northern Ontario team then went on to win Olympic gold.
Then there’s Brad Gushue’s team, which is coming off a dream season that saw the rink capture the Brier in its hometown of St. John’s, and followed it up by going undefeated and winning the world championships in Edmonton.
When it comes to Gushue vs. Jacobs, there’s history and intensity.
The most recent big bonspiel battle happened in St. John’s. With Gushue reeling after a loss to Jamie Koe and the team from the Northwest Territories, Gushue needed a massive win in the next game. His opponent? Jacobs.
In what turned out to be a thrilling game, Gushue’s team ran Jacobs out of rocks in the 10th end, coming up with a gutsy 7-5 win. It was a victory that signaled his run to the Brier tankard. Gushue wouldn’t lose another game after the win over Jacobs.
Now they meet again — and the stakes a much higher this time.
“For both of our teams, based on what happened to them yesterday and how we’ve been progressing, it’s going to be a big game for both of us,” Gushue said.
“Whoever can come out with a win tonight is going to get a bit of a catapult forward. I don’t think it’s do-or-die yet but whoever wins will be in a much better place obviously.”
After starting with a win at the trials, Jacobs suffered somewhat of a stunning loss in his second game Sunday against Kevin Koe.
In a back-and-forth battle, it came down to an extra end. Jacobs had the hammer. The team kept the end wide open. All Jacobs had to do was make a routine draw into the eight-foot to stay undefeated.
But Jacobs sailed his rock through the house. It wasn’t even close.
“It’s completely embarrassing to miss it. We should have closed the game out,” Jacobs said after the loss. “It falls on the skip because I missed my last shot. That’s my job.”
Jacobs took complete ownership over the loss and wasn’t mincing words afterward. It was his first loss ever at the trials.
“It’s definitely going to fester most of the day,” he said on Sunday. “We’re just going to have to park it and…