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Extra-end win means Newfoundland will have top-two finish in Brier round-robin

If you weren’t aware of the situation and had just stepped into the bowl of Mile One Centre at 11:26 p.m. Thursday night, you might have — for an instant — believed there had just been an announcement that O Canada was about to be played.

Newfoundland and Labrador skip Brad Gushue celebrates his team's win during the Thursday night draw of the Brier at Mile One Centre. Team Newfoundland and Labrador won the game 7-6 in the eleventh end over team Canada.

Everyone in the building stood up.
Brad Gushue had just delivered the last rock of an extra end, hoping to score a point and to give Newfoundland and Labrador a win over Kevin Koe and Team Canada ... and as it turned out, a top-two round-robin finish.

As the rock made its way down the sheet, people were straining to see what was happening.
Their eyes soon gave way to their voices roaring approval as Gushue’s stone settled at the back of the button for 7-6 victory over the defending champions of the Tim Hortons Brier Canadian men’s curling championship.
The result improved Newfoundland’s round-robin record to 8-2 and secured Gushue and teammates Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker a place in the 1-2 Page Playoff game.
Immediately after the conclusion of Thursday’s draw, the belief was that Newfoundland’s win had secured it no better than a guaranteed berth in a playoff tiebreaker. But after running the scenarios — 16 in all — that could develop based on results this morning, Curling Canada announced Newfoundland could finish no worse than second in the round-robin standings based on its head-to-head record against the other contenders.
Newfoundland and the other top-two finisher — still to be determined —  meet at 8 p.m. tonight at Mile One, with the winner advancing directly to Sunday’s final. The loser would utilize a second life to play in a Saturday semifinal.
Mike McEwen and Manitoba (8-2) could earn the other 1-2 berth by beating Quebec and Jean-Michel Ménard this morning and the team from Winnipeg can do no worse than a tiebreaker. The same for Northern Ontario and Brad Jacobs, who have already finished their round robin at 8-3.
Team Canada, which finishes up against New Brunswick (1-9), and Quebec both sit at 7-3 and need victories to be assured of playing beyond this morning.

And British Columbia (7-4) is not entirely out of the picture, but must wait and hope for the right results — losses by Canada and Quebec — to insert itself into a tiebreaker scenario.
There is even a possibility of five teams — Manitoba, Newfoundland, Northern Ontario, Team Canada and Quebec — all finishing at 8-3.
In other words, while there are only four round-robin game remaining, there is still much to be decided.

In fact, Newfoundland's place in tonight's game is the only sure thing. That certainly didn't look to be the case after the first end of the game against Team Canada — Koe jumped to a 3-0 lead and never trailed until giving up a ninth-end steal that put Gushue ahead 6-5. Koe got a single to tie it in the 10th, but that turned the hammer over to Gushue, who used it to full advantage in the extra end.

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