Playoff-bound Canada Loses its First to New Zealand
In a tense afternoon game at the St. Jakobshalle in Basel, Switzerland, Kiwi Peter de Boer pushed Canada to an extra end and handed Glenn Howard his first defeat of the tournament, and the first-ever win for New Zealand over Canada in a world championship.
Howard, Wayne Middaugh, Brent Laing and Craig Savill went into Thursday afternoon’s game knowing that they had secured a spot in the Page 1-2 game with a 9-0 record.
New Zealand, on the other hand, was fighting for a playoff position, with a 6-4 record. One more loss could mean elimination, but Peter de Boer, a former Scottish runner-up, and his team of Sean Becker, Scott Becker and Kenny Thomson, didn’t let Canada’s domination over the rest of the field hold them back from playing an all-out aggressive game against the undefeated Canadians.
“The Kiwis were tough from the first end on,” said National Team Coach Rick Lang at the conclusion of the game. “They made a lot of key shots and we struggled with getting the rocks in the exact right place.”
That struggle was evident in the statistics: skip Glenn Howard curled an uncharacteristically low 67 percent, the result of facing so many difficult shots with his last rocks, while de Boer finished the game at 80 percent.
Needing two to tie in the tenth end, Canada fought for rock position against the determined Kiwis. After de Boer attempted a freeze to a Canadian counter in the eight foot, Howard was able to make the perfect take-out to score two and take the game to an extra end without hammer.
The extra end saw more of the same aggressive play from both teams. With his last shot, Howard was able to push a New Zealand rock to the back of the button, lying shot behind a guard, but de Boer answered with a delicate tap back to score two and earn his seventh win – keeping his playoff hopes alive.
“It doesn’t get any better than that,” said an ecstatic de Boer after the game. “The front end set up the ends really well and we just had to stay with them in the first few ends. It’s pretty exciting – that’s the first time New Zealand had beaten Canada and the first time New Zealand has had a winning record (in a World Championship).”
Lang said Team Canada was already looking ahead to the evening game against China’s Rui Liu, who is looking for a win to stay in the hunt for a playoff spot. “We need to regroup and finish strong tonight.”
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Written by Jean Mills
Thursday, 5 April 2012 02:11