Creative shot!

Canada has six wins and one loss and is tied with Great Britain’s Team James Craik in the standings. (Photo, U SPORTS/Stéphane Jobin)

Canada’s Team Owen Purcell remains tied atop the standings at FISU World University Games

SARANAC LAKE, N.Y. — If curling awarded points for creativity, Canada’s Team Owen Purcell would have been the class of the field on Tuesday at the 2023 Lake Placid FISU World University Games. Regardless, the men’s curling team from Dalhousie University in Halifax remains atop the standings with two more wins in the men’s curling event hosted at Saranac Lake Civic Centre. 

Skip Purcell, vice-skip Jeffrey Meagher, second Adam McEachren and lead David McCurdy drew up an outstanding shot in the sixth end during the team’s 5-2 win against Norway’s Team Mathias Braenden (3-4) during the evening draw.

With two Norway stones in the top 12-foot near the side of the house and a Canadian stone wedged between them, Team Purcell played a joyous down-weight thin-angled slash double to sit two. Canada hit the outside of the Norwegian rock nearest to the centre line, chipped it past the Canadian stone and eliminated both of Norway’s rocks – all while rolling the shooter to sit two. Norway peeled out Canada’s shot rock and Purcell coolly drew to the four-foot for two points.

“I’d call it a tap, chisel? Just to catch a little piece,” Purcell said, grinning, following the game. 

Norway and Canada were tied at two apiece and the deuce elevated Canada into the driver’s seat of the game. Canada stole a point in the seventh end after a nicely placed freeze and then ran Norway out of stones in the eighth end for the win.

“In the sixth end, we are firm believers that scoring is a crucial thing to do. We also believe that being tied with hammer playing seven is not a fun position to be in. We were thinking if we’re forced, we might as well try something difficult to maybe get our two and we made a nice shot there,” Purcell said.

It was a solid second half for Canada after Norway kept the hammer through most of the first half of the game, blanking the third and fourth ends. Norway started the game with a score of one, and Canada replied in the second end with two.

Earlier in the day, Team Purcell won a 9-4 game against South Korea’s Jaeboem Lee (4-3). While South Korea stole a point in the first end, Canada put its stranglehold on the game shortly after. Team Purcell replied in the second end with a draw for three and stole two more points in the third. Canada then forced South Korea to one in the fourth. 

The key shot arrived in the fifth end. Team Purcell nailed a double takeout for four and a 9-2 lead. South Korea scored two in the sixth and then conceded. 

“Owen’s been electric. That shot out there tonight was absolutely incredible and he came through and made it,” lead McCurdy said. “In the Sweden game – the last shot in the seventh and the last shot in the eighth – absolutely incredible too. And the double he made against Korea? He’s firin’ this week. The ice has been great and it’s allowed us to do that with consistency and make those shots.” 

Canada has six wins and one loss and is tied with Great Britain’s Team James Craik in the standings. 

Team Purcell will have an opportunity to clinch its spot in the playoffs on Wednesday afternoon during its game against Team Daniel Casper of the United States (4-3) at 2 p.m. (all times ET).

The team is backed by alternate Caelan McPherson, coach Anthony Purcell and team lead Helen Radford.

“It’s awesome. It makes my day when I get to see the guys fired up and the roaring from the Canadian fans,” Purcell said. “I’m definitely starting to embrace the energy that’s out there and it just makes it more fun.”

Paige Papley, left, and Catherine Clifford sweeping. (Photo, Curling Canada)

The Canadian women’s team from the University of Alberta, led by skip Abby Marks, kept its sliver of a chance at the playoffs alive with a dominating 10-1 win against Australia’s Team Kirby Gill (0-7) on Tuesday afternoon. 

Canada improved to three wins and four losses at the event with two more games to play on Wednesday against Great Britain’s Team Fay Henderson (5-2) at 9 a.m., followed by Switzerland’s Team Corrie Huerlimann (4-3) at 7 p.m. Canada must win both of those games and hope other results will go its way to qualify for the playoffs.

It is not the way skip Marks, vice-skip Catherine Clifford, second Brianna Cullen, lead Paige Papley, alternate Serena Gray-Withers, coach Amanda St. Laurent and team lead Radford hoped the week would go. But their mindset remains on controlling the aspects of the event they directly influence.

“I think we just need to continue to go out there and put good pairs (of shots) together. That will be the key in moving forward,” vice-skip Clifford said. “We can’t think about what could have been because this is the situation we’re in. That’s what we need to focus on going forward.”

Canada started its game against the Aussies with hammer and converted a deuce in the first end. The Pandas team stole two in the second and forced Australia to one in the third. With the hammer once again, Canada orchestrated a three in the fourth and tacked on steals of one and two in the fifth and sixth ends when Australia conceded. 

Clifford is experiencing her first FISU Games and first opportunity to represent Canada in an international competition. She was supposed to represent Canada at the 2021 FISU Games as alternate and compete for the country at the 2021 World Junior Curling Championships. Both were cancelled due to the pandemic. She’s fired up to be at the Lake Placid games and aims to make the most of it despite the team’s disappointing results.

“We still have two more games to play and lots of events to watch. There’s just so many positive things to come out of an experience like this and I know we’re all really excited to continue enjoying the games and support the boys team who is doing great,” Clifford said.

Live scoring, standings and statistics for the 2023 FISU World University Games are available by clicking here.

TSN will broadcast select curling games. Click here for the full schedule.

This story will be available in French as soon as possible here.

Curling Canada