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Canada qualifies for playoffs at Paralympics

Canada’s wheelchair curling team knew that defending a gold medal for the third time wasn’t going to be easy; nor was it going to be quick.

The team constantly referred to the 11-game round robin as a marathon, and they were going to take it one mile at a time.

With a 6-2 win over Germany, the Paralympians must feel that they’ve passed a major milestone by officially qualifying for the medal round.

Canadian fans cheer the victory and a playoff berth – Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 © WCF / Céline Stucki

“It feels great,” said skip Mark Ideson (London, Ont.). “ It’s been a really long week. It feels like everyone is tired. We had a quick turn around last night, not a whole lot of sleep. So I’m really proud of how everyone played today.”

For the first time in several games, the Canadians controlled the action from start to finish; no come from behind drama, nor was the lead ever in doubt.

“Those are my favourite kind of games,” Ideson joked. “We came out strong the last couple games. We had a good start. We’ve been talking about that a lot, and trying to figure out ways we can best do that. It seems to be working.”

It was a far cry from the week’s earlier games, which saw Canada fight back from big deficits in three different games. To Ideson, however, today’s game was the model to try to replicate.

“I’d rather be known as the “go ahead and stay ahead” team, instead of the “Comeback Kids,” he said.

Canada’s record improved to 8-2, which qualifies them for a spot in the semifinals. Who they play remains to be determined. They could finish anywhere between first and third, depending on their final game, and the result of the game between China and Korea.

For a chance at first, Canada needs to beat Finland in their final game of the round-robin.

“We’ll just stick to our game plan,” said Ideson. “We want to make sure we’re sharp heading into the playoffs. We don’t want to get ahead of ourselves. We want to make sure that we stick to the plan, and really try to win the next one.”