Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan
Photo: THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Team Gushue confident heading into men’s world curling championship

In his World Men’s Curling Championship debut, Brad Gushue is looking to skip Canada to its second straight gold medal, this time on home ice in Edmonton.

Coming off his first ever Brier victory, Gushue along with teammates Mark Nichols (third), Brett Gallant (second), Geoff Walker (lead) and Tom Sallows (alternate) are currently ranked first on the World Curling Tour heading into this year’s worlds, which run April 1-9.

That emotional and thrilling Brier win, coming on his hometown ice in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador, was just the second ever for his province and first since 1976 when Jack MacDuff was the victorious skip who went on to represent Canada at that year’s world championships.

Although this may be his first ever worlds,  Gushue is no stranger to wearing the maple leaf. In 2001, he and Nichols were world junior champions. In 2006, the longtime back-end duo was joined by Russ Howard, Jamie Korab and Mike Adam in winning Canada’s first ever men’s Olympic curling gold medal in Turin.

Photo: The Canadian Press

Canada’s Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Russ Howard, Jamie Korab and Mike Adam celebrate after recieving their gold medals in curling at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy Saturday, Feb. 25, 2006.(CP PHOTO/Ryan Remiorz)

The current Team Canada will be looking to capture the country’s world-leading 36th gold medal in the 58-year history of the men’s worlds. Overall, Canada has 51 men’s world championship medals – 30 more than second placed Sweden. Most recently, Canada’s Team Kevin Koe captured the gold medal in 2016, beating Denmark 5-3 in the final.

Related: Koe skips Canada to curling world title in Switzerland

Should Gushue succeed in defending that title, he would become the first ever skip to win gold at the world juniors, world championships and the Olympic Games. He and Nichols would join John Morris as the only players with that trio of gold medals.

Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue, right, and third Mark Nichols discuss a shot as they play Alberta at the Tim Hortons Brier curling championship at Mile One Centre in St. John’s on Saturday, March 4, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Just like the recent women’s worlds, where Canada’s Team Homan won the gold medal, the round robin consists of 11 games. The home team will face Switzerland in the opening draw of the tournament on Saturday.

Related: Team Homan wins gold at World Women’s Curling Championship

On the second day of competition, Canada faces the 2013 and 2015 world champions from Sweden in the fifth draw in arguably their toughest game of the tournament. Swedish skip Niklas Edin is looking to put Sweden back on the podium after a disappointing finish last year. Both of his world titles came on Canadian ice in Victoria and Halifax. In the seventh draw, Canada will take on another skip seeking a third world title, 2014 Olympic silver medallist David Murdoch of Scotland.

Newfoundland and Labrador’s Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker and coach Jules Owchar, right to left, head down the rink after defeating Team Canada 7-6 to win the Tim Hortons Brier curling championship at Mile One Centre in St. John’s on Sunday, March 12, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

The World Men’s Curling Championship will be the last chance for countries to earn points towards securing berths for PyeongChang 2018. Canada sits in first place in the men’s Olympic qualification rankings, having earned 14 points from the first place finish by Team Koe at last year’s worlds. Those will be added to whatever points Team Gushue earns for their placement in Edmonton. The top seven countries in the Olympic qualification rankings will join the host South Koreans next February. Two more berths will be decided at a last chance qualification event in December, bringing the Olympic field to 10 teams total. You can see the points system and current standings here.

All of Team Canada’s game will be broadcast live on TSN. See the full schedule here.

Here is a list of Canada’s round robin games (all times in ET).

April 1

4 p.m. SUI vs. CAN

April 2

11 a.m. RUS vs. CAN
9 p.m. CAN vs. SWE

April 3

4 p.m. SCO vs. CAN
9 p.m. CAN vs. USA

April 4

4 p.m. CAN vs. CHN
9 p.m. GER vs. CAN

April 5

11 a.m. NED vs. CAN
4 p.m. CAN vs. JPN

April 6

11 a.m. CAN vs. ITA
9 p.m. NOR vs. CAN

You can see the full WMCC 2017 schedule here.