Canada’s Koe beats American Shuster 6-3 at world men’s curling championship

Canada 6 U.S. 3

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — American skip John Shuster buried a draw to put the pressure on Canada’s Kevin Koe in the ninth end of their game at the world men’s curling championship on Thursday.

There was just one problem.

Koe could get around the crowded house by playing an in-off — one of the trickier shots in curling — from a stone parked wide by the sheet’s sideboard.

Shuster turned to vice-skip Chris Plys and acknowledged the door was still open for the Canadian skip.

“I said, ‘Well we left him the Kevin Koe special. Let’s see if the old Kudog is still here,”’ Shuster said. “And there he was.”

Koe threw big weight, brought his rock across the rings and took out the U.S. stone by the button for a highlight-reel shot that essentially wrapped up a 6-3 victory.

The home crowd at the Enmax Centre roared its approval and Koe’s teammates emphatically pumped their fists.

“I had goosebumps going there for sure,” said Canada lead Ben Hebert. “That was a pretty loud roar. Especially with how big the game was, to get a shot like that to seal it up is huge.”

The Calgary skip was in need of a victory after two losses a day earlier. Koe, a two-time world champion, improved to 7-2 while Shuster, the reigning Olympic champ, fell to 6-3.

Koe wasted no time thinking about his options after Shuster’s last throw. He went down to the other end and coolly delivered under pressure.

“It’s all we had but it’s a shot I’m comfortable with,” Koe said. “We’d thrown some out there earlier, I knew the spot. I thought if I threw it well, we’d be close and luckily for us, we made it.

“That was probably a game-winner right there.”

The teams exchanged early singles before blanking three straight ends. Shuster, who struggled with takeouts at 63 per cent, missed a runback in the sixth that gave Koe an open draw for two.

Canada stole a point in the seventh but Koe ticked a guard in the eighth to set up a Shuster deuce that cut the deficit to one. Both teams shot 88 per cent overall.

“I can’t remember the last time we lost three in a row so that would have been pretty deflating,” Koe said. “We had to find a way to bounce back and I thought we did. There was no real weak spots out there.

“We played a good team game.”

Canada will play Scotland’s Bruce Mouat on Thursday evening.

Round-robin co-leaders Japan and Sweden were off for the morning draw. Yuta Matsumura and defending champion Niklas Edin started the day at 8-1.

In other morning games, Italy’s Joel Retornaz edged Switzerland’s Peter De Cruz 6-5 in an extra end and China’s Qiang Zou beat Norway’s Magnus Ramsfjell 8-3. Russia’s Sergey Glukhov posted a 7-4 win over Jaap Van Dorp of the Netherlands.

After 15 draws, Canada and Switzerland were tied for third place at 7-2. Italy and the United States were next at 6-3 while Scotland was in seventh place at 4-4.

The top six teams will make the playoffs. Round-robin play continues through Friday night.

The Netherlands and Russia were 3-6. China, Norway and Germany’s Marc Muskatewitz were 2-7 and South Korea’s SooHyuk Kim was 0-9.

The top two seeds will get byes to the semifinals. Qualification games (No. 3 versus No. 6 and No. 4 versus No. 5) are set for Saturday morning.

Medal games are scheduled for Sunday.

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