The cross-border rivals went toe-to-toe for 11 ends on Day 10 at PyeongChang 2018, but it was ultimately the United States that stood tall over Canada in men’s curling.
The 9-7 defeat in a back-and-forth battle on Monday morning (Canadian time) is the third straight loss for Kevin Koe’s rink. The result moves their round-robin record to 4-3 and, for the first time, puts their qualification for the medal round into question.
But with two winnable draws remaining in the round robin, the team of Koe, Brent Laing, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert still have time to turn things around and assure themselves of a top-four finish in the 10-team pool.
The Americans opened the scoring in the first end, with skip John Shuster hitting a double takeout to score one. They were as close as could be to scoring two, but a measurement confirmed that, in fact, Canada had second shot stone.
The second end came together well for Canada, as Kennedy hit and rolled his second stone beyond Shuster’s reach, and then Koe added a perfectly-weighted freeze atop it. Shuster impressively cleared out one of those stones, but an open draw for Koe gave Canada two points.
A Canadian stone was buried in the middle of a crowded house in the third end, but an impressive high angle raise by Shuster cleared things out and scored a deuce for the Americans (after another official measurement) to reestablish their lead. Team Koe nicked a point of their own in the fourth to knot things up once more.
The U.S. broke the deadlock and retook a one-point lead after the fifth end, when Shuster had just the right weight to tap his own stone back onto the button.
The pendulum looked ready to swing back toward Canada in the sixth, but Koe missed on a double runback attempt, and the U.S. stole one to go up 5-3. That lead was neutralized over the ensuing two ends, however, as Canada scored one with the hammer in the seventh, then reaped the benefit of a missed draw by Shuster to steal one in the eighth.
The pressure ratcheted up as the time ran down. Koe came up light with his final stone of the ninth end, before Shuster pulled off a simple tap back to score a pair and take a 7-5 lead into the 10th.
Alhough it looked like a three-point end might be in play for Canada as the 10th began, some good defence from the Americans held Team Koe to two and pushed the game to an extra end.
Having the hammer gave Shuster a distinct advantage in the winner-take-all 11th. Koe over-curled slightly with his final stone, and Shuster just barely avoided hitting a guard but did enough to take out the Canadian stone and claim the win.
Team Koe will go up against Japan on Monday (7:05 p.m. ET/4:05 p.m. PT), while Team Homan is next in action against China (12:05 a.m. ET Tuesday/9:05 p.m. PT Monday).