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Canadian men improve to 5-0 at World Seniors

Rob Armitage and Team Canada are continuing to sail along at the 2013 World Seniors Curling Championships in Fredericton, N.B.

Team Canada skip Rob Armitage guides his sweepers during his team’s win over Russia on Tuesday night. (Photo, WCF/Richard Gray)

Armitage and his team from Red Deer, Alta. — third Keith Glover, second Randy Ponich, lead Wilf Edgar, alternate Lyle Treiber and coach Bill Tschirhart — pushed their win streak to five games on Tuesday night at the Grant-Harvey Centre, turning back Russia’s Sergey Korolenko 6-4.

The win pushed Canada’s record to 5-0, behind only Karl Nordlund of Sweden (6-0) in their 10-team round-robin pool. The top two teams from each of the pools will advance to the semifinals on Saturday, which will also be the closing day of the 2013 World Mixed Doubles Championship being staged concurrently at the Grant-Harvey Centre.

Canada actually fell behind early, giving up a steal of one to the winless Russians in the first end when Armitage jammed on a takeout attempt.

But the Canadians took control by scoring two in the third end and stealing two more in the fourth when Korolenko flashed on a pair of open takeouts.

“It was a pretty wide-open, simple game,” said Ponich. “Sometimes you wonder if you should junk it up a little more and try to test their draw weight and come-around skills. But whatever it takes to get the ‘W’ on the board.”

The Canadians have four more round-robin games to get through before Saturday’s playoffs, but Ponich said the team has been able to keep its focus off the closing weekend.

“We went through this last year (when the team won the 2012 Canadian senior men’s championship in Abbotsford, B.C.) and learned a little bit of a lesson there,” said Ponich. “You have to just play it one game at a time and don’t look too far forward because it doesn’t do you any good. You have to stay focused on the game you’re in. We know we have some tough ones coming up yet. It looks like there’s a good chance we’ll be playing Sweden for first place in our pool (Thursday at noon, all times Atlantic), so we have to stay focused all the way through.”

The Canadian men take on Denmark’s Bent Juul Kristoffersen (4-2) at 7 p.m. on Wednesday.

In the World Mixed Doubles, meanwhile, Team Canada’s struggles continued on Tuesday night. The duo of Robert Desjardins and Isabelle Néron of Saguenay, Que., along with coach Jim Waite, dropped an 8-4 decision to Hungary’s Zsolt Kiss and Dorottya Palancsa (4-1).

With the loss, Canada dropped to 2-3 in its nine-team round-robin pool and facing the scenario of likely needing to win its three remaining games and needing help from other teams to reach the eight-team playoffs.

Canada took one in the first end, but the Hungarians rallied for three in the second and then proceeded to steal one in the third, one in the fourth, two in the fifth and one more in the sixth to put the game out of reach.

“It is a humbling game, but kudos to (Palancsa), she made everything,” said Desjardins. “She could draw the pin the whole game. She played outstanding.”

The top two teams from each of the three pools move on to the playoffs, along with the next best third-place team based on Last Shot Draw distance (the pre-game draw to the button to determine last rock in the first end). The other two third-place teams will meet in a tiebreaker for the eighth and final playoff spot.

“It’s like the beginning of the playoffs (at the Canadian Mixed Doubles Trials last month in Leduc, Alta.),” said Desjardins. “We need to glue a few wins together. If we win out, we’re probably OK because we have good (last-rock draw distances) so far.”

Even with the on-ice struggles, Néron has managed to consistently keep a smile on her face here.

“I’m having fun,” she said. “There are a lot of friendly people in our section, Italy, Spain, Romania — we have a good gang. All the teams do something together every day. I like the friendship between the countries.”

Wednesday, Team Canada plays Russia’s Alexey Kamnev and Yana Nekrasova at 4 p.m.

Earlier in the day, Cathy King’s Canadian women’s team in the World Seniors rolled to another lopsided victory, 19-1 over New Zealand’s Liz Matthews.

The win left King, third Carolyn Morris, second Lesley McEwan, lead Doreen Gares, alternate Christine Jurgenson and coach Bill Tschirhart alone on top of their seven-team round-robin pool. Austria’s Veronika Huber and Winnipeg-born Margie Smith of the United States have 2-1 records.

The victory was the 44th in succession by a Canadian team at the World Senior Women’s Championship, dating back to the 2008 event at Vierumäki, Finland. Diane Foster’s Canadian team would rebound to win the world title that year, the first of five in a row — a streak King’s team is trying to extend here.

The Canadian women have the day off on Wednesday and return to action on Thursday at 3:30 p.m. (all times Atlantic) against Austria.

For live scores and standings from the World Mixed Doubles Championship, go to: www.wmdcc2013.curlingevents.com/. Selected games from the World Mixed Doubles can be watched online at: www.youtube.com/WorldCurlingTV.

For live scores and standings from the World Seniors Championship, go to: wscc2013.curlingevents.com/.