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Team Canada bound for playoffs at 2016 Ford Worlds

SWIFT CURRENT — A team meeting between draws helped reignite Team Canada when it needed a spark the most. Canadian third Amy Nixon credited “Auntie Laurie” for getting the team back on track.

Facing elimination on the final draw of the round-robin at the Ford World Women’s Curling Championship, presented by Meridian Manufacturing, Canada’s Chelsea Carey defeated Eve Muirhead of Scotland 9-4. With the victory, Canada advances to the playoffs, while Muirhead is going home without a shot at her second world title.

After taking an 11-2 drubbing from Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa hours before, Team Canada gathered in Carey’s hotel room. Among those at the meeting was “Auntie Laurie,” who is really Laurie Hillis, a corporate team dynamics person and the best friend of Carey’s mother, Mary.

“We had some powerful moments and some swear words and some high-fives and some tears and everything around the block,” Nixon said. “It was a very powerful moment for our team. Honestly, she (Hillis) made all the difference for us between that game … and Laine Peters showed a ton of leadership in that meeting. She basically said, ‘You know what, let’s garbage that, we’re doing this and let’s go out and do it.’ She really started turning the tide.”

The playoffs are now set. Switzerland’s Binia Feltscher and Japan’s Satsuki Fujisawa will meet in the Page 1-2 game Friday at 7 p.m. MDT. Canada and Russia’s Anna Sidorova will play in the Page 3-4 game Saturday afternoon at 2 p.m.

The Page 1-2 winner will go straight to Sunday’s 3 p.m. gold-medal game, while the loser will drop into Saturday’s 7 p.m. semifinal against the winner of the Page 3-4 game. The Page 3-4 loser will take on the semifinal loser in the bronze-medal game Sunday at 10 a.m.

Feltscher defeated South Korea’s Ji Sun Kim (5-6) 7-4 Thursday night, while Japan and Russia had byes on the final draw.

Both Switzerland and Japan finished with 9-2 records. Canada and Russia finished at 8-3.

Two hours after suffering an 11-2 drubbing to Fujisawa, Canada played arguably its best game of the week. It couldn’t have come at a better time.

Canada hasn’t won the title since 2008 and hasn’t missed the playoffs since 1999 in Saint John, N.B., when Colleen Jones didn’t make the top four.

Carey is happy to be in the playoffs.

“That was goal No. 1 for sure,” she said. “Obviously we’d like to be on the podium, so we will see if we can string together a few more wins and take care of that. Goal No. 1 is checked off the list, so it’s a nice feeling.”

Canada controlled play early. Muirhead had to make a delicate double tapback to score one in the second end. A miss would have put Canada up 3-0. In the third end, Canada had four rocks in the house, forcing Muirhead to protect her shot rock as best she could. She escaped with Carey counting one.

With the score 2-2 playing the sixth end, Canada made textbook shots around a corner guard. With her final rock, Muirhead was unable to eliminate either Canadian stone, giving Carey a draw for three and ultimately a 5-2 lead.

That was the turning point although, as one would expect, there was no quit in the Scots.

Switzerland skip Binia Feltscher calls sweeping instructions to her teammates. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Switzerland skip Binia Feltscher calls sweeping instructions to her teammates. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Muirhead scored one in the seventh with the hammer and stole one in eighth when Carey’s double attempt missed by a millimetre or two.

Carey made a double with her first rock in the ninth and a runback with her second to count four and prompt handshakes.

“I was thinking I missed it the last end and I’m not going to miss it again,” said Carey, whose team is rounded out by second Jocelyn Peterman, lead Laine Peters (who celebrated her 46th birthday on Thursday), alternate Susan O’Connor, team coach Charley Thomas and national coach Elaine Dagg-Jackson. “I had just thrown it so it was the same throw with lots of deep breaths and let your body do what you train it to do when I am at the rink throwing hundreds of rocks a week.”

It was a disappointing ending for Muirhead, who lost her last three games, including a 10-4 drubbing to Fujisawa earlier Thursday.

“It’s hard because we played pretty well at the start of the week and we got a lot of good play going,” Muirhead said. “It’s hard to take that we’re out, but we lost the last three games, and at major championships you just can’t do that.

“I missed my last shot in the sixth (when Carey scored three). It comes down to skip’s shot and it makes you look a bit of a fool. You get the glory when you win, but when you lose you get the sack because you don’t make the shots.”

In other games on the final draw of the round-robin, Denmark’s Lene Nielsen (5-6) defeated Germany’s Daniela Driendl (3-8) 8-4 and Erika Brown of the United States (6-5) defeated Sweden’s Margaretha Sigfridsson (4-7) 5-4 in an extra end.

Japan, Russia and Finland’s Oona Kauste (1-10) and Italy’s Federica Apollonio (1-10) had final-round byes.

For ticket and other event information, visit http://www.curling.ca/2016worldwomen/tickets/

For the complete results, standings, the schedule and much more, visit http://www.curling.ca/2016worldwomen/

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/2016worldwomen/?lang=fr

TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2016 Ford Worlds.