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Sweden wins semi to earn another shot at Canada at Ford Worlds

Niklas Edin made a last-rock hit-and-stick in an extra end Saturday to nip Peter de Cruz of Switzerland 6-5 and earn his Swedish team another shot at unbeaten Brad Gushue of Canada at the 2017 Ford World Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Service Experts.

The two-time world champion fought a tight semifinal battle with de Cruz, who stole one in the 10th to force the extra, but the Swedes kept things clean enough to give Edin the open shot at the victory.

“I knew right away I wanted to hit because I’ve almost never missed one of those (outturn hit) in my life,” Edin said of his final shot, even though he had missed a similar (albeit tougher) one in 10. “If I get an outturn hit on my last one I make it. The one in the 10th, I thought the ice would curl a bit and it didn’t do that.”

Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz keeps an eye on his stone. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Edin, third Oskar Eriksson, second Rasmus Wranå, lead Christoffer Sundgren, alternate Henrik Leek and coaches Peja Lindholm and Fredrik Lindberg now get another crack at Gushue’s St. John’s team. The two meet in Sunday’s final at 6 p.m. (all times MT), when Gushue will try for his 13th straight win and a third victory over Edin, whom he beat 7-4 in the Page 1-2 game on Friday.

“They have the momentum but also the pressure,” said Edin, who won the worlds in 2013 and 2015 — both times on Canadian ice. “If we stick in the game and keep it close for half the game I think nerves might come into it. This is the first worlds for them and they have a lot of pressure, everyone expects them to win.

“We’ll see what the ice will do tomorrow as well. If any kind of frost creeps in again it’s tricky to draw so if we’re ever ahead it’s going to be easy for us. If they’re ahead it it’s going to be easy for them so the first half is crucial for us.”

De Cruz, fourth-rock thrower Benoît Schwarz, third Claudo Pätz, lead Valentin Tanner, alternate Romano Meier and coach Claudio Pescia will play John Shuster of the United States in the bronze-medal game at noon.

Switzerland had beaten the U.S. 11-4 in eight ends in the Page 3-4 playoff game earlier in the day.

“I think we had kind of control in the beginning,” de Cruz said of the game that saw both he and Sweden playing a tight, patient game waiting for the other to make a mistake.

“After the second end we had control for three or four ends … but in the end they made more shots than us.”

A pivotal point came in the seventh when Edin made a difficult, slightly angled double runback to score two after Schwarz had buried his last rock on the button.

Edmonton Ab. April 8, 2017.Ford Men’s World Curling Championship.Curling fans.Curling Canada/michael burns photo

“They were forced to go all-in there,” said Edin. “If he doesn’t make that absolutely perfectly we’re scoring three or four and the game’s over. He came up with a brilliant shot. The outturn hack weight wasn’t there so we had no choice but to try that one. I felt confident I’ve been making those runbacks near centre line all week.”

Although the game went to an extra end, de Cruz agreed the seventh was pivotal.

“If we can force them to one or even a steal then they get a bit nervous. If we could have pushed them with the score a little tighter (a win) would have been possible.

“It’s disappointing because we had our chances and we didn’t execute everything perfectly. We’re where we deserve at the end of the week.”

For ticket and other event information, visit http://www.curling.ca/2017worldmen/

This story will be posted in French as soon as possible at http://www.curling.ca/2017worldmen/?lang=fr

TSN (RDS2 in French), the exclusive television network for Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide complete coverage of the 2017 Ford Worlds.