Scotland beats Canada to keep playoff hopes alive at Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Championship

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – Bruce Mouat of Scotland came into the world men’s curling championship as one of the pre-event favourites, but it wasn’t until Thursday that they showed why his team was so highly rated.

The youthful Scottish team (6-4) posted two wins, including an absolute must-win over Kevin Koe of Canada (7-3) in the evening draw to keep alive its hopes of making the playoffs in the Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Service Experts, Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing.

“We probably have to win the next two to qualify, but at least it’s still in our own hands,” Mouat said after the victory. “We had some control, got off to areal good start, managed to steal in three when they had a chance for three, but a real tough shot. We got a good start and that’s what we needed.”

Down 6-5 with hammer in 10, his team was confident.

“We knew we had set up really good the whole game, looking good for two when we had hammer, so we just said let’s do exact same,” said Mouat, who finished third in last year’s championship at Las Vegas. “We built a good end and luckily we had the shot.”

Trying to find a way out of the giving up more than one in the end, Koe’s last-rock draw was exposed just enough that Mouat could use it to kick out both Canadian stones and leave himself sitting three for the win.

“We had a couple shots to maybe get out of and then if my shot is a rock higher I don’t think he has a shot for two. You have to be pretty precise out there sometimes and we were just a little off,” said Koe.

“Disappointing, but if we sharpen up a few little things we’ll be around. Obviously we have to win (final two games). That’s probably the end of our semifinal bye hopes but if we need to play an extra game we play an extra game.”

Koe, third B.J. Neufeld, second Colton Flasch, lead Ben Hebert, alternate Ted Appelman, team coach John Dunn and national coach Jeff Stoughton, fell behind early, giving up a deuce in the second and a steal of one in the third.

Just as the crowd was getting restless, Koe made an end-saving draw against three for one in the fourth and Canada stole two in the fifth when Mouat rubbed on a guard on his final-stone draw.

Mouat, third Grant Hardie, second Bobby Lammie, lead Hammy McMillan Jr., alternate Ross Whyte and coach Alan Hannah were set for a possible multiple score in the sixth. But with his final stone, Koe came through a port and took out all three Scottish stones.

Canadian skip Kevin Koe shows his frustration after a miss. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

Scotland then blanked two ends until it got the break it wanted in eight. Neufeld only got one rock on a double-takeout try and Koe rolled out on a hit-and-stick, leaving Mouat a hit-and-stick for two and the lead.

Koe and Co. regained the lead with two in nine, burying shot rock early and ultimately have a straight hit-and-stick for the deuce.

John Shuster of the United States (7-3) posted two three-enders and had Yuta Matsumura of Japan (8-3) his second straight loss, 10-4; SooHyuk Kim of South Korea (1-10) scored three in the second and fourth end to pick up their first win, 8-5 over Magnus Ramsfjell of Norway (2-8); and Joel Retornaz of Italy (7-3) had two deuces to pick  up a vital win, 6-4 over Jaap van Dorp of the Netherlands (3-7).

With one day left in round-robin play, only Sweden (9-1) and Japan (8-3) have qualified for the playoffs. Six teams advance. Others still in contention are Switzerland (8-2), Canada, Italy and the U.S. all at 7-3 and Scotland at 6-4.

The 2019 Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship continues with draws Friday at 9 a.m., 2 p.m. and 7 p.m. (all times MT).

Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2019 Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship are available at wmcc2019.worldcurling.org/

TSN and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the 2019 Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule.

For ticket information for the 2019 Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship, go to www.curling.ca/2019worldmen/tickets/

This story will be available in French as soon as possible at www.curling.ca/2019worldmen/?lang=fr