Photo: Michael Burns/The Canadian Press/HO-WCF/Curling Canada
Photo: Michael Burns/The Canadian Press/HO-WCF/Curling Canada

Rocky start seals Canada’s fate against Swiss in men’s curling

Despite a valiant comeback effort, Team Koe couldn’t climb out of an early hole on Day 9 at PyeongChang 2018, and suffered their second straight round-robin loss.

The 8-6 defeat to Switzerland on Saturday evening (Canadian time) for Kevin Koe’s rink moves their record to 4-2 with three draws remaining in the round robin. But given Team Koe’s resume and Canada’s track record in Olympic men’s curling, there’s every reason to believe they can recover and qualify for the medal round.

Team Canada’s skip Kevin Koe, back right, looks for options in the 8th end during round-robin action against Norway at the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Korea, Thursday, February 15, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO – COC – Jason Ransom)

As for the game against Switzerland, however, it didn’t just start off on the wrong foot for Canada—it started off on the wrong leg. Koe flashed his final stone through the house in the first end, giving Swiss fourth Benoit Schwarz the chance to score four big points.

Team Koe—which also includes Brent Laing, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert—chipped away at the Swiss lead in the second end, with a simple hit-and-stay giving Canada a deuce. A few nice shots by Koe in the third end then forced Schwarz into a tricky draw to try and score one, which a measurement confirmed that he had done.

The Swiss put their own defensive tactics in effect in the fourth, with Koe scoring just one on a pretty angle raise with the hammer. Then, a hit-and-roll with Koe’s final stone of the fifth didn’t move quite as hoped, allowing Schwarz to nail a double takeout and score two, restoring the four-point Swiss lead at 7-3.

A Swiss error late in the sixth end opened the door for Koe to hit and stay for two, once again narrowing the deficit. Knowing their time was running short, Canada pressed for a steal in the seventh end. The Swiss, perhaps feeling the breathing down their neck, made a few mistakes, and Canada got a steal of one to move the score to 7-6.

The Canadians hoped for another steal in the eighth, although an impressive double takeout by Swiss third Claudio Pätz stymied those efforts. But Koe then executed his own double takeout with his final stone, giving Schwarz the option of scoring one or blanking the end. He chose the blank, taking the hammer into the ninth.

Canada’s skip Kevin Koe throws the stone during a men’s curling match against Norway at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. (AP Photo/Natacha Pisarenko)

Koe executed a remarkably tight draw with his final stone to have Canada lying three, and it looked like his side might get its steal after all. But Schwarz pulled off a pressure-packed hit and roll with the hammer to score one and take Switzerland into the 10th end with an 8-6 lead.

Despite being down two, Canada having the hammer meant anything was possible in the 10th. But the Swiss held on for dear life, and an open hit from Schwarz with his final stone was enough to close things out.

Canada will very quickly get a chance at revenge on Day 9, with Rachel Homan’s rink facing Switzerland at 12:05 a.m. ET Sunday (9:05 p.m. PT Saturday). Team Homan then plays Japan at 7:05 p.m. ET/4:05 p.m. PT Sunday, before Team Koe gets back at it against the United States at 12:05 a.m. ET Monday (9:05 p.m. PT Sunday).