How important is an undefeated record at the Ford World men’s curling championship? “It’s still nice to beat all the teams here so we’re not going to let anything down, we’re going to keep playing hard,” said Canada’s Jeff Stoughton on Wednesday afternoon in the wake of his ninth straight win, a 10-6 defeat of Sweden’s Niklas Edin.
“It’s been a great week so far and we aren’t going to let the train stop rolling. We’re looking for two great games (Thursday against China and Norway) and to carry on to the Page One-Two playoff.
“Everything seems to be working. We’re getting great positioning from (lead) Steve (Gould) and (second) Reid (Carruthers) and our shots are so much easier when the positioning is great. We haven’t been in trouble more than five or six times all week. It’s been wonderful.”
The last team to win the Ford Worlds without a loss was Stoughton’s arch-rival from Winnipeg, Kerry Burtnyk, in 1995. Burtnyk went 11-0 in a 10-team field.
This is a 12-team affair, hence 11 wins will be required just to sweep the round robin.
“It may not look tough but it sure feels tough,” said Stoughton, whose vice-skip Jon Mead is rounding into Brier-shooting form.
“I mean, after yesterday’s draw and after the game against the U.S. it was exhausting because you want to win so badly. It takes a lot out of you. We’ve played five of the last six draws so we’re tuckered out.
“I don’t know where Norway sits right now, they may still be in there, but if we can get rid of them (Thursday night) we’re certainly not going to take them lightly and if they’re not eliminated we want to eliminate them so we don’t have to play them again later. I think we’re sitting in a really good spot and we’re going to enjoy this.”
The Draw-13 decision over Sweden appeared to be another breeze for the Canucks but Stoughton waved off the suggestion.
“The score looks convincing but they’re never out of the game so you’re out there grinding away,” he said. “To get that early four was a bonus and that three in the fourth was pretty well icing on the cake.”
Canada led 7-3 after four and hammered granite through to the eighth when Edin’s Swedes (5-3) tossed in the towel.
“It was a game against Canada that we didn’t expect to win if we didn’t play our best and we didn’t,” said the Swedish skip. “We had too many easy misses in the beginning. But we have some more games that we have to focus on now. We’re confident we can bounce back. We’re still playing well, we have different opponents coming up. This has nothing to do with the rest of the games.”
Sweden, in fact, faces the Czech Republic later at 7:30 p.m. The Canucks are idle until 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
Clinching a playoff berth in the Page-system One-Two game means a win there will catapult Canada through to the championship final Sunday at 5 p.m.
“That Friday night game is big,” said Stoughton. “It’s the same as the Brier except we had to win the last-round game at the Brier to guarantee the One-Two. But it’s the same deal. I like the setup. If we win four more we’re there.”
Scotland remained within shouting distance of Canada, winning its seventh in eight starts 7-3 at the expense of winless Denmark (0-9). Yansong Ji of China (3-5) outscored Dong Keun Lee (2-7) of Korea 9-6 while France remained in third place at 6-3 in spite of losing a last-rock 6-5 decision to Andy Kapp of Germany (4-4).
“That was important,” said Kapp, “because France has played well the whole week.”
He admitted, however, that his team never has lost to Thomas Dufour’s Chamonix outfit.
“My last shot was easy because I had the backing (in the four-foot),” said Kapp. “They had two in there so it was critical but easy. In this field, you have draw right on the pin so often. It’s frustrating for us because we gave away two wins earlier. We’d have been 6-and-2, but it seems we always have to do things the hard way.”
Dufour tied his best-ever win record of six in the Worlds earlier Wednesday and needs a seventh win to tie France’s best-ever record at the Worlds — seven wins in 1973 at Regina.
The French have games remaining against Scotland (7-1) and the U.S.A. (3-5).
Elsewhere in Draw 14 later today, Scotland plays Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud, who is riding a 4-4 bubble, Germany plays Christof Schwaller (5-3) of Switzerland and the U.S. tackles China.