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Canada holds off U.S. in wild Ford Worlds opener

Pat Simmons had to make a last-rock draw to the button in an extra end to get past John Shuster of the United States 11-10 in the second draw of the Ford Men’s World Curling Championship Saturday.

Pat Simmons, middle, walks off the ice after Saturday's win with teammates Carter Rycroft, left, and Nolan Thiessen. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Pat Simmons, middle, walks off the ice after Saturday’s win with teammates Carter Rycroft, left, and Nolan Thiessen. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

In a game as shocking for its missed shots as its high scoring at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax, the Americans looked sharper in the early ends, forcing Canada to take a single in the first end and then scoring three in the second. Shuster made a triple takeout and stick for three after three partial misses by Canada let the U.S. set up the end with rocks in all four corners of the 12-foot.

“That had to be up there in entertainment value for fans to watch,” said Simmons. “That was a fun atmosphere and a fun game. I’m lying a little bit. It wasn’t fun the whole game for us, but what a gutty performance that was.”

Simmons, third John Morris, second Carter Rycroft, lead Nolan Thiessen and alternate Tom Sallows came right back with three of their own in the third, Simmons executing a straight-forward hit and stick. Canada looked in good position to steal in the fourth until Simmons came up light with his attempted tap back for second shot. That left Shuster with a wide angled raise take out of the Canadian counter in the four-foot and the U.S. skip made it perfectly to score four.

Canada was in position for three of its own in the fifth until Shuster bailed out his team with a double take out and rolled for shot. Simmons made his straight-back elimination of that shot to count two.
“Rocks not really sharp, in the exact spots we needed, but we didn’t play that bad, they played outstanding,” Simmons said of the first five ends. “John Shuster was unbelievable tonight. It was a shame someone had to lose that game.”

When Shuster’s attempted double left Canada a steal of one in the sixth the teams were tied 7-7.

The U.S. edged into 9-7 lead but Canada scored three in the ninth and gave up one in the 10th.

Meanwhile, Thomas Ulsrud of Norway began defence of his World Men’s title with a narrow 9-7 win over Jialian Zang of China while

Ulsrud, third Torger Nergård, second Christoffer Svae, lead Håvard Vad Petersson and alternate Markus Høiberg struggled in the first couple ends but snapped out of it with three in the third. They got three more in the fifth and looked to have control of the match.

“That was a tricky game for us,” said Ulsrud. “We struggled at the start, figuring out the ice, but once we got a handle of it we pretty much controlled the game. We scored multiple points in a few ends. I thought we were going to be cruising but they came back pretty strong so I had to make a pretty good last shot to win. “

2015, Halifax N.S. Ford Men's World Curling Championship, Canadian Fans,Curling Canada/michael burns photoChina scored deuces in the seventh and ninth ends and forced Ulsrud to make a tough draw to the button to get the win.
Yusuke Morozumi of Japan gave his country its first-ever 2-0 start the men’s world championship with a 9-3 win over Ewan MacDonald of Scotland. Japan ended the game with a five-ender in the eighth.

In the other game Jiří Snítil of the Czech Republic scored one in the 10th to edge Aku Kauste of Finland 8-7.
Sweden’s Niklas Edin (1-0), Italy’s Joel Retornaz (1-0), Russia’s Evgevny Arkhipov (0-1) and Switzerland’s Marcus Pfister (1-0) all had byes)

The 2015 Ford Worlds continue on Sunday, with draws scheduled for 9:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 7:30 p.m (all times Atlantic).

All Canadian games and the playoff rounds for the 2015 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship will be televised on TSN/RDS2, the official broadcasting partner of the Season of Champions. The full broadcast schedule is available at http://www.tsn.ca/2014-15-tsn-curling-broadcast-schedule-1.95515.

Live scoring is available at: http://www.curling.ca/scoreboard/#/competitions/1670-2015-ford-world-men-s-curling-championship/scoreboard

To purchase tickets to the 2015 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship, go to: http://www.curling.ca/2015worldmen-en/tickets/

The French version of this story will be available at http://www.curling.ca/2015worldmen-fr/ as soon as possible.

Follow @curlingcanada on Twitter (#FWWCC) for updates during the 2015 Ford Worlds.