Canada’s junior men won their final two games of round robin play to finish in first place at the World Junior Curling Championships Thursday in Oestersund, Sweden.
A lopsided win over Finland got off to a slow start in the morning session.
“The first end was a bit junky,” says Scott Arnold, National Team Coach. “Possibly because of the earlier start, 8 a.m. local time instead of the usual 9 a.m..”
Overcoming the “cobwebs”, Canada’s Brendan Bottcher was able to score three points in the first end and allowed Finland, skipped by Iiro Sipola, to take a single in the second.
Despite an impressive 15-foot run-back double by Sipola in the third, a hit-and-stick by Bottcher resulted in another 3 for Canada. They led 7-2 heading to the fifth-end break.
“Canada continued to apply pressure in the sixth,” reports Arnold. “After a great little tap by Bottcher, Canada scores a deuce and the Fins concede. Final score, Canada 9 – Finland 2.”
In the final round robin game, Norwegian skip Markus Hoiberg drew for two in the first end. A couple of late mistakes in the second allowed Bottcher an open hit for 3.
After two blank ends, Canada dominated the fifth, forcing Norway to a single, and a 3-3 tie at the break.
The teams traded deuces in seven and eight, but Canada controlled the scoreboard, taking points in the even ends.
With a 2-point lead after eight, Canada tried to keep it simple, but when Bottcher narrowly missed a double, Norway made no mistake with their draw for 2.
“Canada executed flawlessly in the last end,” says Arnold. “Bottcher had an open hit for the win and nailed it. Canada scores 3 in the tenth for a 10-7 final score.”
Bottcher was understandably elated after the win. “We were just trying to make the play-offs, but it’s great that we’ve finished on top and to go into the 1-2 game.”
Speaking about the game itself he said: “The guys curled great tonight. That game was up and down, but we were always ahead on the scoreboard, so we always had control in that regard. I feel like we’re starting to get on a roll here and hopefully we can ride that into the play-offs.”
With their first-place finish, Team Canada – Brendan Bottcher, Evan Asmussen, Landon Bucholz and Bryce Bucholz – will now face Sweden in the Page 1-2 game on Saturday.
News, live scores, galleries and video highlights can be found on the World Junior Curling Championship website.