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Team Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue, left to right, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant, lead Geoff Walker, alternate Jeff Thomas and coach Jules Owchar hoist the Brier Tankard trophy after defeating Team Alberta in the Brier curling final in Kingston, Ont., on Sunday, March 8, 2020.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Brad Gushue of Newfoundland and Labrador defeated Alberta’s Brendan Bottcher 7-3 on Sunday night to win the Tim Hortons Brier.

After forcing Bottcher to draw for a single in the ninth end, Gushue made a hit for the win in the 10th.

“It feels absolutely incredible,” Gushue said. “To win in this field, which I believe is probably the strongest field I’ve certainly played in (over) 17 Briers, to come through and to play the game we played today, that’s special to play our best game in the final.”

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Newfoundland and Labrador's Brad Gushue defeated Alberta's Brendan Bottcher 7-3 to win the Tim Hortons Brier on Sunday night at the Leon's Centre. The Canadian Press

It was Gushue’s third Canadian title in four years. Bottcher has lost three straight Brier finals.

“We certainly didn’t play our best early and you can’t give that big of a lead to those guys,” Bottcher said.

Gushue and teammates Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker will represent Canada at the March 28-April 5 world men’s curling championship in Glasgow, Scotland.

The final was a rematch of the 2018 championship in Regina. Gushue beat Bottcher 6-4 that year to defend the title he won on home ice in St. John’s.

Bottcher, a native of Sherwood Park, Alta., and teammates Darren Moulding, Brad Thiessen and Karrick Martin lost last year’s final to Kevin Koe.

Alberta was the first seed at the Leon’s Centre after finishing the championship round at 10-1. Newfoundland and Labrador was seeded third at 8-3.

Bottcher’s team seemed a little off from the start of the final. Alberta gave up a rare steal when Bottcher flashed a stone in the opening end and he ticked a guard in the second to set up a force.

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His woes continued in the third end when a rubbed guard set up Gushue for a double-takeout for three points.

Newfoundland and Labrador kept the pressure on in the fourth by forcing Bottcher to draw against four. The Alberta skip ticked a stone and just rolled in as Gushue took hammer with a 4-2 lead.

Bottcher started to settle in near the game’s midway point.

He finally connected for a nice double in the fifth, forced Gushue to one in the sixth and made another double to blank the seventh.

But Newfoundland and Labrador never lost control. And with Gushue a model of consistency – shooting at a game-high clip of 97 per cent – Alberta was constantly playing defence.

Gushue essentially sealed the victory in the eighth end with a steal after Bottcher missed a double takeout.

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Newfoundland and Labrador shot at 86 per cent overall. Bottcher was the low man at 71 per cent and his team shot at 80 per cent.

This was the 17th career Brier appearance for Gushue, who won Olympic gold in 2006. His current lineup is in its fifth season together.

Bottcher, a 2012 world junior champion, made his Brier debut in 2017.

Gushue defeated Saskatchewan’s Matt Dunstone 7-6 in the semi-final earlier Sunday.

Newfoundland and Labrador decided it would give up a game-tying deuce so it could have hammer coming home. The decision paid off when Gushue drew for a single point and the win.

Dunstone, who lost the 1-2 Page playoff to Bottcher on Saturday, threw his first stone to the eight-foot under cover. The skips made freezes before Gushue threw the game winner.

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“It’s tough. You come so close,” Dunstone said, fighting back tears. “We woke up this morning thinking we were going to be Brier champions.”

The two-time Canadian junior champ made his Brier debut two years ago as vice-skip for Steve Laycock’s Saskatchewan rink.

The province’s last Brier title came in 1980 when Rick Folk beat Northern Ontario’s Al Hackner.

“They’re going to have lots and lots of chances to win one of these,” Gushue said of the 24-year-old Dunstone. “There’s no doubt in my mind that he is going to win one and probably multiple (titles) over the course of his career.

“He’s that good. So hopefully he keeps his head up high.”

Gushue will return as Team Canada at the 2021 Brier in Kelowna, B.C., and also earned a berth in next year’s Olympic Trials in Saskatoon.

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The team gets $105,000 of the $300,000 total purse while Bottcher’s rink picks up $65,000. Gushue’s team also receives $169,440 in Sport Canada funding over two years.

Announced attendance was 5,029 for the final to bring the competition total to 96,076.

The women’s world curling championship begins Saturday in Prince George, B.C. Kerri Einarson will represent Canada after winning the Scotties Tournament of Hearts last month.

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