A team meeting in the middle of the Tim Hortons Brier kick-started Brad Gushue's run to national and world titles earlier this year.
Another sit-down session was needed after an early loss at the Olympic trials. It appears to be paying dividends.
Gushue picked up his second straight win Monday morning with an 8-6 victory over John Morris at Canadian Tire Centre. It was an intense, rollicking affair that turned when Gushue delivered a tap for four points in the eighth end.
The St. John's skip pumped his fist and held his stare after delivering the clutch throw.
Gushue gave up three in the third end after ticking a guard, but pulled even in the fourth with a deuce. He chirped at Morris at one point in the fifth, picked up a steal and gave second Brett Gallant an earful during the mid-game break.
Gushue seemed determined to will his team to victory. His record improved to 2-1 while Morris fell to 0-3.
The team appears to be on the rebound after a 6-4 loss to Toronto's John Epping over the weekend. Gushue used terms like "shocked" and "mind-blown" to describe his teammates' play in the final end of the opener.
A postgame talk from the skipper – just like at the Brier nine months ago – soon followed.
Ottawa's Rachel Homan defeated Krista McCarville of Thunder Bay 4-2 in the other early game.
Homan, the reigning world women's champion, had hammer in the 10th end and used it to score a single. She improved to 2-1m while McCarville dropped to 1-2.
Calgary's Chelsea Carey beat Casey Scheidegger of Lethbridge, Alta., in an afternoon battle of undefeated skips. Carey scored one in an extra end for an 8-7 victory.
Carey joined Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones at 3-0 while Scheidegger fell to 2-1.
In other afternoon games, Winnipeg's Mike McEwen topped Epping 8-5, Winnipeg's Reid Carruthers downed Saskatoon's Steve Laycock 9-5 and Edmonton's Val Sweeting doubled Toronto's Allison Flaxey 10-5.
Entering evening play, McEwen and Calgary's Kevin Koe were the only unbeaten men's skips at 3-0.
Round-robin play continues through Friday and the finals are scheduled for Sunday. The winning teams will represent Canada at the Feb. 9-25 Pyeongchang Olympics.
The trials – officially called the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings – is arguably the toughest event to win in curling. There are no easy games and emotions can get high with the Olympic carrot in play.
Gushue gave Morris an earful at one point after some contact was made in the house. Gushue third Mark Nichols took an accidental slash to the hand as Morris backed up to sweep.
Gushue felt Morris could have swept from the other side. The Vernon, B.C., skip noted that since he called the shot he had first right of the house.
"I didn't know he was behind me and I backed up quickly and I caught him," Morris said. "There was no harm done and it was all good."
Nichols wasn't hurt.
"What happened on the ice is no big deal," he said. "No drama."