Photo: Stephen Hosier/COC
Photo: Stephen Hosier/COC

Semifinal setback vs. USA sends Team Koe to bronze-medal game

It may not be the colour they’d had their hearts set on, but Canada will still have a chance to take home a medal in men’s curling at PyeongChang 2018.

With a 5-3 loss to the United States in the semifinal on Thursday morning (Canadian time), Kevin Koe’s rink will now compete in the bronze-medal game.

The semifinal result was the second loss to the Americans at these Games for the team of Koe, Marc Kennedy, Brent Laing and Ben Hebert. The U.S. had also won a dramatic, extra-end draw in the round robin.

Canada skip Kevin Koe plays a stone as second Brent Laing, left, and lead Ben Hebert get ready to sweep during men’s semifinal curling action against the USA at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018 (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette)

In the semifinal draw on Day 13, Koe blanked the first end, then threw his second-end hammer with just a smidge too much weight, scoring one when a deuce was potentially available.

It was a similar story for American skip John Shuster in the third, when a minor miscalculation was the difference between a single and a pair. After a trio of ends played, the score stood at 1-1.

The U.S. was lying two on the fringes of the 4-foot as Koe came out of the hack with the final stone of the fourth end. But the experienced Canadian skip hit and stuck to score one.

Shuster made a bold call with hammer in the fifth, attempting a double runback that would have scored four and blown the game open. As it happened, the attempt only scored one, as the back-and-forth battle continued, tied 2-2 at the break.

Blanks in the sixth and seventh kept things even, and let Canada hold onto the hammer into the critical eighth end.

Team Canada’s Team Koe in the round robin of curling at PyeongChang 2018, Tuesday, February 20, 2018. (COC Photo by Stephen Hosier)

In the eighth, the Americans consistently picked off Team Koe’s efforts to set themselves up for a big end. The Canadian skip’s final stone then came up way short, as the Americans stole two and turned the game on its head.

Shuster turned the screws tighter in the ninth, holding Canada to a single point to take a 4-3 lead, and the hammer, into the 10th end. There, the Americans held steady, and Shuster closed things out with a hit-and-stick on the 4-foot with the game’s final stone.

Canada’s final draw of these Games will feature Team Koe going for the bronze medal against Switzerland (1:35 a.m. ET Friday/10:35 p.m. PT Thursday).