Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher, right, makes a shot as second Brad Thiessen sweeps against Germany at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Friday, April 9, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Canada’s Bottcher heads into men’s world curling playoffs on a winning note

Canada’s Bottcher heads into men’s world curling playoffs on a winning note

CALGARY — Canada’s Brendan Bottcher capped the preliminary round at the men’s world curling championship with a 9-6 win over Germany, and prepared for a playoff game against Scotland later Friday.

The host country finished the round robin with a 9-4 record.

Bottcher’s team from Edmonton needed a win over Scotland’s Bruce Mouat on Friday evening to advance to Saturday’s semifinals in Calgary. The medal games are Sunday.

“You’ve got to be proud of where you’re at, but our work isn’t done here by any stretch,” the Canadian skip said. “We certainly have expectations and we all have the drive to keep playing well in the playoffs.”

Defending champion Niklas Edin of Sweden and Russia’s Sergey Glukhov topped the table at 11-2 for byes into Saturday’s semifinals.

Reigning Olympic champion John Shuster of the United States (10-4) Scotland (9-4) and Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz (8-5) round out the six playoff teams.

Shuster faces the Swiss on Saturday morning in a playoff between the third and sixth seeds.

Canada was seeded fourth because of a round-robin win over the fifth-place Scots to open the tournament.

Italy and Norway finished just outside the playoff round with 7-6 records. Japan was 6-7 ahead of Germany at 4-9, Denmark at 3-10, and the Netherlands, South Korea and China all at 2-11.

Glukhov’s official team name at the world championship is Russian Curling Federation because of World Anti-Doping Agency sanctions against that country.

Canada beat both the Scots and the Americans in the preliminary round, but fell to the Swedes, Russians, Swiss and South Koreans in losses decided in either extra ends or with last rocks.

“The preliminary round, there were a lot of tough games,” Canada’s second Brad Thiessen said. “We learned a lot about the ice and the rocks.

“We learned a lot about the teams as well. We faced quite a bit of adversity this week I think.”

Canada has won five of the last 10 world men’s curling titles and reached the final in another three.

Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L. was the last Canadian team to win gold in 2017 in Edmonton.

Both Gushue and Kevin Koe were beaten in the finals by Edin in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

Last year’s championship in Glasgow, Scotland, was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

In the 61-year history of the men’s world championship, Canada has finished outside the medals seven times.

The top six countries at 2021 BKT Tires and OK Tire Men’s World Curling Championship also qualified their countries to compete in men’s curling in next year’s Winter Olympics in Beijing.

China owns an Olympic berth as the host country. The remaining three countries will be determined at an international December qualifier, with a date and location yet to be announced by the World Curling Federation.

The world championship is being held without spectators at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre, which was also the case for the Canadian men’s, women’s and mixed doubles championships there.

Participants are confined to the arena and their hotel to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus. A pair of Grand Slams featuring international fields start next week following the men’s championship.

The women’s world championship is also scheduled for April 30 to May 6 in Calgary. Kerri Einarson’s team out of Manitoba’s Gimli Curling Club will represent the host country.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 9, 2021.

Donna Spencer, The Canadian Press

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