Semifinal berth clinched!
Team Canada handles Scotland to lock up semifinals at LGT World Men’s Championship
It’s down to three games for Team Canada at the 2022 LGT World Men’s Curling Championship, presented by New Holland.
Brad Gushue’s St. John’s, N.L., team will close out round-robin play Friday night at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas and then will take most of Saturday off before a 7 p.m. (all times Pacific) date in the semifinals. And regardless of the semifinal result, Gushue, vice-skip Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant, lead Geoff Walker, alternate E.J. Harnden, team coach Jules Owchar and national coach Jeff Stoughton will be playing for a medal on Sunday.
Whatever results come this weekend, it will be a remarkable achievement for a remarkable curling team that has given everything it can with the Maple Leaf on its back this week in Las Vegas.
Team Canada took another big step in its gold-medal quest on Friday morning, grinding out an 8-6 win over Scotland’s Team Kyle Waddell — a result that left Canada with a 9-2 record and a bye to Saturday’s semifinals by virtue of a top-two finish in the 13-team round-robin standings.
And considering the wear and tear on the team through a season that has included victories at the Tim Hortons Canadian Curling Trials, presented by AGI, and Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI, as well as an Olympic bronze medal in Beijing, the fact it’s still upright — never mind leading the LGT World Men’s Championship standings — is an achievement.
“It’s been a long year,” agreed Gushue. “There have been times this week when I feel like a zombie out there. You’re focused, you’re trying to do your best, but it’s been a grind. But it’s the world championship; we’re playing for (first place) tonight and this weekend, obviously, it’s the playoffs, so if we can’t find the energy, there’s something wrong.”
Team Canada will close out round-robin play Friday at 7 p.m. against Denmark’s Team Tobias Thune (2-8), needing a win to clinch first place and last-rock advantage for the first end in the playoffs. A loss, combined with a win by Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin (8-3)‚ over Norway’s Team Magnus Ramsfjell (5-6) would leave Sweden in first and Canada in second.
“You want to win that last game to guarantee hammer in the playoffs, which is big for us,” said Nichols. “We’re not going to take our game lightly tonight; just go out there and play the way we can and look for one more win.”
It was a back-and-forth game against the Scots (6-5); Canada was able to open with a steal in the first, and the teams traded deuces the next two ends.
In the fourth, though, Canada picked up its second steal of the game when Scotland’s last-rock thrower Ross Paterson was heavy with his draw.
Paterson would redeem himself in the ninth end with a spectacular double angle-raise takeout to score a game-tying deuce.
In the 10th, though, Canada’s defence was air-tight and Gushue didn’t need to throw his last shot.
“Certainly the draw weight changed (during the game), and we got a few flat spots (in the ice), so if we had to draw the four-foot in the last end, it would have been a bit of a guess,” said Gushue. “You don’t really want that. Fortunately we played a really strong 10th end and we didn’t have to throw the last one.”
So it’s down to three games, and Team Canada will continue to dig into its energy reserve in its bid for a spot on the medal podium.
“We’re trying as hard as we can,” said Nichols. “We’re trying to conserve our energy as much as we can through this whole thing. Just trying to recharge as much as we can because, yeah, we are tired, but we’re doing our best out there. I hope everyone sees that.”
In other games on Friday morning, Germany’s Team Sixten Totzek (6-5) took a big step toward a playoff berth with a 10-3 win over Team Yannick Schwaller of Switzerland (6-5); Team Korey Dropkin of the U.S. (7-4) was a 7-2 winner over Team Kalle Kiskinen of Finland (3-8); and Italy’s Team Joel Retornaz took three in an extra end for a 9-6 win over Norway.
The U.S. and Italy both locked up playoff spots with their victories.
Sweden, Denmark, South Korea’s Team Chang-Min Kim (5-5), Team Lukas Klima of the Czech Republic (4-7) and Team Wouter Goesgens of the Netherlands (2-8) all had byes on Friday morning.
The top six teams qualify for the playoff round with the top two receiving a bye while the remaining four play in the first round on Saturday afternoon. The gold-medal game will be played Sunday.
TSN/RDS2, the official broadcast partners of Curling Canada’s Season of Champions, will provide live coverage of Canada’s round-robin games, in addition to all playoff games. CLICK HERE for their complete broadcast schedule.
The list of teams, schedule information and live scoring can be found on the event website, worldcurling.org/events/wmcc2022/