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Finland, U.S. into Ford Worlds tiebreaker

Aku Kauste of Finland scored threes in the second and eight ends Thursday to beat Joel Retornaz of Italy 7-5 and advance into Friday’s 2:30 p.m. (all times Atlantic) tiebreaker game against John Shuster of the U.S. at the 2015 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship.

2015, Halifax N.S. Ford Men's World Curling Championship, Finland skip Aku Kauste, Curling Canada/michael burns photo

Finland’s Aku Kauste watches a shot; his team is playing the United States in a tiebreaker on Saturday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Kauste, third Kasper Hakunti, second Pauli Jäämies, lead Janne Pitko, alternate Leo Mäkelä and coach Tomi Rantamaki finished the round-robin at 6-5, tied with the U.S., who had beaten Evgeny Arkhipov of Russia 6-5 in an extra end earlier in the day.

Pat Simmons of Canada and Thomas Ulsrud of Norway won both their games in Thursday’s earlier draws to finish tied atop the standings at 10-1. They will meet in the Page 1-2 playoff game Friday at 7:30 p.m. with the winner advancing to Sunday’s 4 p.m. gold-medal game.

“I really proud of my team tonight,” said Kauste. “We’ve been fighting game after game, we’ve been in some really tough games, but I’m glad we’ve now got a chance in a tie-breaker. Even tonight we made some huge misses but made some pretty good shots to come back.”

As for his rematch with the U.S., whom the Finns beat 7-4 in the round-robin, he expects an equally tough game

“They will be looking for revenge so it will difficult. It was tight in the first game, although we were leading most of the way. They are playing really well so we will have to be prepared.”

In the other final round-robin games, Yusuke Morozumi of Japan scored two in the seventh end and three in the ninth to hand Marc Pfister of Switzerland his fifth straight loss and knock him out of the tiebreaker scenario, Jiří Snítil of the Czech Republic beat Russia 7-6 and Niklas Edin of Sweden scored four in the first end and three in the ninth to beat Ewan MacDonald of Scotland 11-6 to finish third at 8-3.

“It didn’t look after we were 2-3 (like we would make the playoffs) but we picked it up,” said Edin. ‘Now we’ve got a day and a half of rest and that’s exactly what we need. We had to fight all our games and it’s been must wins the last five so it’s taken a lot of energy to win every one of those games.”

But, he agreed, playing all those pressure games may have him better prepared for the playoffs.

2015, Halifax N.S. Ford Men's World Curling Championship, Switzerland skip Marc Pfister,second Reto Keller,  Curling Canada/michael burns photo

Switzerland’s Reto Keller, left, and Marc Pfister show their disappointment. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“Yeah, It’s been good, but at the same time I wouldn’t want to have the playoffs (today). We would have needed more energy. Having those tough games has kept our focus, kept us in every game.”

The winner will advance to play Sweden in the Page 3-4 game on Saturday at 2:30 p.m..

The 2015 Ford Worlds continue on Friday with the tiebreaker game at 2:30 p.m. and the Page 1-2 game at 7:30 p.m.

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/