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Team Canada finishes perfect day at Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Championship

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. – For the second straight game Kevin Koe and Team Canada scored a three-ender early and used the lead to control the game and finish the opening day of the 2019 Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Service Experts Heating, Air Conditioning and Plumbing, at 2-0.

Koe, supported by third B.J. Neufeld, second Colton Flasch, lead Ben Hebert, alternate Ted Appelman, who replaced Hebert after the fifth end, team coach John Dunn and national coach Jeff Stoughton, scored three in the first end and added triples in the fifth and seventh to roll past Sergey Glukhov of Russia 11-3 in seven ends in the evening’s second draw.

“Really kind of a perfect day, two wins obviously,” said Koe, seeking his third world title. “But I think it was good for us to have been tested our first game. That can never hurt us going forward. And tonight we played a good first end to get a nice three and we were off and running after that.”

It was a key double takeout by Koe that led to the three and Canada scored two in the third and added two more three-enders while holding Russia to singles in the second, fourth and sixth.

“Kev made a really, really great double in the first end, otherwise we get forced,” said Neufeld, playing in his first world championship. “After that it was smooth sailing.

Team Canada had scored three in the second end of their 6-5 win over South Korea earlier in the day but needed an extra end to get that victory.

Swiss skip Peter de Cruz, top, looks over the shoulder of Norway skip Magnus Ramsfjell. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“It’s good to have a tight game early,” said Neufeld, who, like Flasch, joined the Koe team this season after playing several years with Mike McEwen in Winnipeg. “It’s good to have those games that go the distance, have an extra end, to see what the ice is going to be like in those situations. Tonight we were feeling a little more comfortable with the ice.”

In the other evening games, Joel Retornaz of Italy scored four in the sixth end en route to a 9-3 win over Marc Muskatewitz of Germany; Peter de Cruz of Switzerland beat Magnus Ramsfjell of Norway 10-4 and defending champion Niklas Edin of Sweden shook off jet lag to steal three in the fifth end and went on to a 9-4 win over Qiang Zou of China.

“We talked a lot about the first game, playing with a bit of jet lag and not really knowing our form, the first game is always tricky,” said Edin who has been waking up unusually early since arriving in Lethbridge. “The ice today was really good and it felt like we played well technically and got good results with our rocks. Felt like a really solid start and that’s what we were looking for.”

He and teammates third Oskar Eriksson, second Rasmus Wranå, lead Christoffer Sundgren, alternate Daniel Magnusson and coach Fredrik Lindberg, were especially pleased with their performance, coming off a long layoff.

“We’ve had seven weeks off, no competition, no travelling as a team, it kind of seems like this is starting the season, like in September when we feel the jet lag a bit,” said Edin, who is seeking a record-tying fourth world championship. “So definitely a little bit harder on us but in a day or two we should be dialed in.”

The 2019 Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship continues with draws Sunday 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 Tim Hortons Brier. 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