Tommy Brewster’s crew did its part to set up this heavyweight showdown. Barely.
Scotland, with Brewster at the helm, scored two in the ninth end and held off China 5-3 on Tuesday morning at the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Richardson. The victory pushes Scotland’s record to 6-0, and sets up a Tuesday-night meeting with Canada (5-0) in a much-anticipated clash of undefeated squads at the Brandt Centre.
Of course, Jeff Stoughton’s outfit from Winnipeg must first take care of business in Tuesday afternoon’s draw against France (4-1) . . . and, as Brewster found against the Chinese (2-4), there are no guarantees at this global rockfest.
“It was pretty tough out there this morning. We really weren’t all that sharp,” said Brewster, the 1995 world junior champion, whose Curl Aberdeen foursome includes third Greg Drummond, second Scott Andrews, and lead Michael Goodfellow.
“We made some sloppy shots midway through the game. We just needed to tighten up,” he added. “I don’t know if an element of complacency crept in or not . . . or maybe (Scotland’s players) had the game tonight in the back of their minds, I don’t know.
“But it was important for us to win that game, because we can just go into tonight’s game relaxed.”
In Tuesday morning’s other Draw 9 results, Sweden and Switzerland both won their fourth games — Sweden in an 8-7, 11th-end decision over Germany, Switzerland, thanks to a 7-4 upset of Norway — and the United States kept its slim playoff hopes alive with an 8-4 victory over the Czech Republic.
Scotland’s telling blow against China was a ninth-end deuce. With a large cluster of rocks in the house and the Scots lying two, Brewster skidded his final shot wide of the mass of granite. He was still pleased with the result, though, knowing that if he jostled the rocks around too much, he might have only counted one.
Meanwhile, Sweden (4-2) rallied for an extra-end win over Germany (2-4) by scoring two in the seventh, stealing one in each of the eighth and ninth, and drawing to the four-foot in the 11th to break a 7-7 tie.
“There were a few moments where (German skip) Andy Kapp made some really nice shots and I missed a couple of important ones, but as a team, I thought we outplayed them the whole game, actually,” said Swedish skip Niklas Edin, whose squad from Karlstad includes third Sebastian Kraupp, second Fredrik Lindberg, and lead Viktor Kjall.
“That makes this victory even sweeter. It was so important, and we knew it was going to be a tough one. Every time we play Andy Kapp, it’s tight,” added Edin. “Being down three in six? It didn’t feel so good. But we kept making shots, and it paid off in the end.”
Over on Sheet B, the Swiss (4-2) continued to surge while the 2010 Olympic silver medal-winning Norwegians (2-4) continued to falter.
Christof Schwaller’s foursome from St. Moritz, including third Marco Ramstein, second Robert Hurlimann, and lead Urs Eichhorn, has now peeled off three consecutive wins.
“A very important win,” said Schwaller. “One of the best games we’ve played here this week.”
On the other side, Thomas Ulsrud’s crew was left mystified after giving up deuces to the Swiss in the first and fifth ends, and a steal of one in the sixth.
“It’s just one of those weeks. Nothing is going our way, you know? We’re playing pretty well . . . but still, no wins,” said Ulsrud, whose Oslo-based team, which made the world championship final last year at Cortina, includes third Torger Nergaard, second Christoffer Svae, and lead Haavard Vad Petersson.
“This has been the story of the week for us. There’s not much we can do about it. We’re trying, you know? But it’s hard to try and curl harder. It just doesn’t click for us,” said Ulsrud. “Our coach looks at the stats, and we’re up near the top in every position. I guess we throw the rocks pretty well . . . but still don’t win.”
Pete Fenson’s American squad (2-4) from Bemidji, Minn., staved off certain playoff elimination by scoring five in the fourth and defeating the Czechs.
The U.S. squad, with Shawn Rojeski at third, Joe Polo at second, and Ryan Brunt at lead, had absorbed a devastating loss to Canada on Monday night, despite playing the tournament hosts to a virtual standstill through eight ends. Fenson’s crew knew four defeats was the limit for any playoff possibilities.
“We don’t want any more (losses). Even four’s too many. Last year, I don’t know if 7-4 was in or not,” said Fenson. “But we went to school on (that 5-3 loss to Canada). We drew from what we did well, and we tried to bring it out here today and do it well today. We’re playing better. We’ve got to keep stepping it up every game . . . and get a little streak going.”
As for that extraordinary five-ender, Fenson was looking at a simple nose hit with his final rock. “Joe made a good draw behind the corner guard to lie two, Shawn made a hit-and-roll . . . we made some good shots to force (Czech Republic skip Jiri Snitil) to make some tough ones.”
Tuesday’s Draw 10, which begins at 1:30 p.m., pits the Canadians against the French, the Swiss against the Czechs (2-4), the Americans versus the Norwegians, and the Danes (0-5) versus the Koreans (1-4).