Friday, February 27, 2009

Canada Relentless In Win; Sweden Advance to Gold Medal Game

Team Canada, shocked by a Norway team fighting relegation in the last round robin draw, held a team meeting and then an afternoon practice at the Richmond CC. By the time they came on the ice they were ready to play.

Coach Joe Rea said about USA before the game; "We know this team, we had our chances last game, and we're not going to change our game plan. We're not making a big thing about this game. It is what it is."

USA Coach Rusty Scheiber, asked for a quote, said, "Tell my wife I miss her!" He added, "USA wll play agressively and come into the rings. We're going to make the Canadian skip make his draws."

I looked like an interesting match-up, with Canada seeking to keep things clean, and USA seeking to mix it up. When the game started, however, both teams chose to draw in and then hit. This was well executed curling on both sides, but played into Canada's hands.

It's tough to out-hit Canada, and with skip Armstrong shooting an incredible 88%, Canada wore USA down. The game started close, but with end after end of precision shooting it was only a matter of time before the less experienced team cracked. When they started to miss their takeouts, Canada poured rocks into the house, and they stole the game away, 9-2 in seven ends.

Gerry Peckham, The CCA's high performance coach, was on hand to see his team win. "We were relentless this evening," he said. "USA played well for four ends, but eventually they had sme misses and we just kept up the pressure."

It was an impressive win, but USA played a very similar game to Korea, the other game that Canada threw over 70% as a team. But regardless of how well USA might have played, it's tough to beat a skip shooting high 80s. A more complicated game may have challenged Canada more, but all credit to the Canadians. They played the rocks they were given and were never in serious difficulty.

Tomorrow morning they take on Germany, who lost 7-6 to Sweden despite staging a late charge and taking 3 in the final end. Swedish skip Jalle Jungnell shot 70%, outstripping Germany's Jens Jaeger by 20 points.

Jaeger is far more experienced than Perez, the USA skip and is less likely to choose to play on Canada's terms. Canada won comforatbly when they faced an already qualified Germany on the last day of round robin play.

I suspect the task will be tougher tomorrow, but if Canada get momentum, and hit their shots early, they are very difficult to beat. Canada have curled wonderfully at times, with unheard of percentages. They have alo allowed their chins to drop when things have not gone well. They are a new unit amd still learning the team dynamics that will mould them into a consistent winning team on the ice.

We'll find out which Team Canada turns up for tomorrow's semi-final at 9 am.

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