LAS VEGAS — Difficult ice conditions left players very confident in Sunday’s men’s world curling championships.
Brad Gushue’s Canadian team managed to clear the hurdles and used a three-point steal in the eighth end for a 9-6 win over Wouter Goesgens of the Netherlands.
“We’re really happy with the placement,” said Gushue. “We’re not that sharp when it comes to play.”
Canada improved to 4-0 in the evening with a 10-6 win over Swiss Yannick Schwaller.
The St. John’s-based side of Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker had a first half to forget in the afternoon, complete with a final stone draw of 199.1cm before the game, easily the worst of the tournament.
Gushue spotted a hit and roll attempt for a Dutch steal in the second end. He gave up another deuce in the fifth end when his rock smashed into a guard.
“I threw two really good rocks and it made me look like I was a Monday night club curler,” Gushue said. “But the ice is just like that and it came back to bite her in the eighth end as well.”
With percentages down and a 5-2 lead for Dutch Rink, Gushue’s side talked things over at the fifth-end break. The Canadians really wanted to put more pressure on in the second half and it worked.
“There will be failures out there, but let’s try to contain them and fight,” Walker said. “The big thing is believing that we’re going to make the next one.”
Gushue scored two goals in the sixth end and leveled the game with a steal in the seventh. Goesgens’ first-half momentum was gone and his easy throw against three in the eighth end turned the game.
“We throw some really nice rocks and just look like we’ve never curled before,” Gushue said. “But it has to do with the ice. It’s disappointing for a World Cup that it’s going that way.”
Hot outdoor temperatures didn’t help the ice quality in the nearly empty 9,500-seat arena that hosted this 2018 event. There was a lot of curl but overall consistency was an issue.
“It’s going to be a long week,” Gushue said. “We’re going to have a lot more games like today where you just have to have damage control.”
All four Canadians had a shot rate of at least 80 percent. But her trademark wasn’t always there.
Asked when he would finally be comfortable on the ice, Gushue replied flatly, “When I got off it.”
The three-time defending champion Niklas Edin from Sweden (1:2) suffered two defeats that day. He dropped an 8-7 decision against Switzerland in the morning and Italy’s Joel Retornaz scored four goals in the 10th end for a 10-8 win over the reigning Olympic champions in the afternoon.
“It’s tough out there and it’s not just about us,” Gushue said. “You look over and you see what Niklas is today, one of the best teams in the world and he was 69 percent. You just don’t see that.”
Against the Swiss, Gushue started slow but equalized with a four-ender in the fourth end. Schwaller’s side shook hands after giving up a two-point steal in the ninth.
Gushue was alone in first place after five round-robin games that lasted through Friday. The four-time men’s national champion claimed his only world title in 2017 in Edmonton.
Italy defeated the Finn Kalle Kiiskinen 10:7 in the evening and left Canada as the only undefeated ice field. In second place were Italy, Finland, Germany, Norway and the United States, 2-1.
The top six teams in the 13-man field advance to the playoffs. Medal games are scheduled for April 10th.
Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni won the women’s world title last weekend in Prince George, BC. Kerri Einarson of Canada took bronze.
This report from The Canadian Press was first published on April 3, 2022.