Team Canada took the easy route to 5-0 while Norway and Switzerland had nail-biters to stay on their tail at 4-1 after eight draws Monday at the Ford World Men’s Curling Championship at the Scotiabank Centre in Halifax.
Pat Simmons and his Canadian teammates scored three in the fourth end, stole one in four, got two in the seven and three more in ninth to roll past Evgeny Arkhipov of Russia 9-3.
Meanwhile, defending champion Thomas Ulsrud of Norway had to watch nervously as Sweden skip Niklas Edin’s last-rock wide open draw, needing full eight-foot for the win, slid deep into the house to let Norway steal a single and escape with a 6-5 win.
And Switzerland’s Marc Pfister also benefitted from a costly final-end miss, this one by China’s Jialing Zang, to steal two for a 7-4 win.
Simmons, third John Morris, second Carter Rycroft, lead Nolan Thiessen, alternate Tom Sallows and coaches Earle Morris and Rick Lang gave up a single in the third but pounced on a costly miss by Arkhipov in the fourth to get their three.
“We’re 5-0 but we’re still a little bit off, some weird misses,” said Rycroft. “We’re still figuring stuff out there.”
But the two wins on Monday were crucial, he added. “The more you can knock off, the more wins you can get and not feel 100 per cent the better.”
The pivotal end came in seven when Russia was building towards a possibly big end until Simmons made a critical raise triple take-out to end the threat.
“They just lined up really nice,” Simmons said. “I think I could hit anywhere from half a rock to where I hit it so there was a bit of room for error. It was nice to hang around where I did because it kind of took his draw out of the equation and made that end a lot safer. It was looking a little ugly there for a bit for sure.”
Norway and Sweden traded singles through seven ends until Edin got a break for two in the eight and Ulsrud missed his chance for a deuce in nine when his last rock was just heavy. He and teammates third Torger Nergård, second Christoffer Svae, lead Håvard Vad Petersson and alternate Markus Høiberg were fortunate to get the steal in 10.
“I was getting ready to pack up my bag as I really thought we had lost that one,” Ulsrud said. “It was tricky ice out there tonight — it’s really fast on the wings and a bit fudgy in the middle. I was sure he (Edin) was going to hit it at the end there but luck for us he drew and was a bit heavy. This was a big break for us. Now we’re 4-1 — that’s pretty good. We need to keep our game up because all our games have been pretty tight.”
In the other evening game, John Shuster of the U.S. scored six in the first end and cruised to an 8-2, six-end win over Joel Retornaz of Italy.
“The first end Matt (Hamilton) made a key shot early, kind of came through a port backwards and they had a couple of misses.” Shuster said of the six. “We had a couple of good shots and made him throw an almost impossible shot with his last one. But it picked out of his hand. I was able to come around and get that extra point.”
The win kept alive the U.S. playoffs hopes and was a big boost to their confidence.
“Getting this win tonight kept us in the tournament. You can have four losses and maybe make the playoffs but you don’t want to have to win six in a row in this field.
“It kind of sets the stage for some confidence going forward. It looks like it’s going to be kind of a mess record –wise so our goal is to get a couple of wins and stay in that mess.”
Jiří Snítil of the Czech Republic (3-2), Aku Kauste of Finland (3-2), Yusuke Morozumi of Japan (3-2) and Ewan MacDonald of Scotland (0-5) had byes for the evening draw.
The 2015 Ford Worlds continue on Tuesday with draws at 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/