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Canada finishes third, will face Scotland in Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Championship playoff

LETHBRIDGE, Alta – Kevin Koe and Team Canada finished third in the round-robin portion of Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship, presented by Service Experts, Heating, Air Conditioning, Plumbing and will face Scotland in one of Saturday morning’s qualification playoff games.

“It’s been a dogfight all week,” Koe said of his team’s performance after a hard-fought 6-5 win over Jaap van Dorp of the Netherlands (3-8) in the final round-robin draw Friday evening at the ENMAX Centre. “We didn’t even have a playoff spot wrapped up until after this afternoon’s draw so we can’t be whining we’re not in the semis. Just come out, play well and win and we’re in the same spot as everyone else.”

Scotland’s Bruce Mouat scored three in the 10th end to beat Canada 8-6 on Thursday, but Koe said that result will have no impact on his team’s preparation for today’s rematch.

“I don’t think we do much different. We played well … I took a chance for two that just missed … so we just have to tidy a few things up. We have a good idea of the ice, we have hammer, the rocks will be fine so we’re in good shape.

“We just need to bring our best game to the playoffs. We still haven’t brought our best, complete effort but it’s been pretty close. I like where we’re at.”

As was often the case this week, Koe, third B.J. Neufeld, second Colton Flasch, lead Ben Hebert, alternate Ted Appelman, team coach John Dunn and national coach Jeff Stoughton had their hands full, this time with the Netherlands.

The Netherlands foursome matched Canada well through six ends, down 4-3 until Canada got one in seven and a steal in eight. A last-rock draw facing four Canadian counters by vice-skip Wouter Gösgens throwing fourth stones came up just short of being shot rock..

Canada finished the round robin at 9-3, the same as Yuta Matsumura of Japan and Peter de Cruz of Switzerland. The Swiss, who beat Qiang Zou of China (2-10) 6-4 Friday evening, got second place based on the best pre-game draw shots through the round robin.

“Lucky us, we’re the lucky team out of 9-3 so really, really happy to be in that position,” said de Cruz. “tonight we wanted to make sure we didn’t try to over-do things, try to play too good because that doesn’t usually work. We knew we were probably a better team than China over 10 ends so if we stick to our game plan we should be fine.”

In a game to decide the final playoff team, Scotland (8-4) perfectly executed a tight double take-out to score three in the eighth end to beat Joel Retornaz of Italy (7-5) in a winner-take-all game 9-5.

Italian skip Joel Retornaz shouts to his teammates, with Scottish skip Bruce Mouat looking on. (Photo, Curling Canada/Michael Burns)

“Disappointing to lose a game with this kind of meaning,” said Retornaz. “We could have made it to playoffs, and we didn’t, but overall it’s been a good world championship. Certain situations we missed some key shots we shouldn’t have missed and they took advantage.”

John Shuster of the United States (8-4), with a playoff berth already secured, scored an 8-4 win over Magnus Ramsfjell of Norway (2-10).

Defending champion Niklas Edin of Sweden finished atop the standings at 11-1 followed by Switzerland, Canada and Japan at 9-3, the United States and Scotland at 8-4. Sweden and Switzerland advance to the semifinals. The U.S. will play Japan in the other qualification game.

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

Sweden will play the lowest-ranked winner from the qualification games at 2 p.m., with Japan taking on the other winner at 7 p.m.

The semifinal winners will play for gold Sunday at 5 p.m.; the losers will play for bronze Sunday at noon.

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