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USA shocks Canada with comeback win, gains playoffs

Team USA struck a major blow for its hopes of gaining the final four at the World Men's Curling championships. The Ted Birr rink handed Canada its first loss late Wednesday night, scoring three in the tenth end to overcome the Canadians 7-6. It f...

Team USA struck a major blow for its hopes of gaining the final four at the World Men's Curling championships.

The Ted Birr rink handed Canada its first loss late Wednesday night, scoring three in the tenth end to overcome the Canadians 7-6.

It followed with a 7-5 win over Korea in the opening Thursday draw and finished round robin play with a 6-5 win over Sweden.

That lifted Team USA to 8-3, alone in second place, a game and a half behind the round robin leaders.

Switzerland is another game back at 7-4 while France and Germany are 6-4 and Finland and Sweden 5-5 in what shapes up as a fight of four teams for the final playoff berth.

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Wednesday marked the first game in the tournament that Canada was forced to the final end. It never trailed until the final stone, taking an early 3-1 lead and breaking a 3-3 tie with two in the seventh.

The two teams split singles the next two ends before the Americans exploded with three to win.

Birr executed a takeout in the 10th end to score three after Canadian Skip Glenn Howard wrecked on his own stone in the top of the house, trying to remove a U.S. rock.

It was the first time all week a team has scored more than two points in an end against the Canadians.

After Birr got one back in the third, Canada made it 3-1 in the fifth.

But Bill Todhunter drew around a guard in the sixth for the second point as USA tied the score at 3-3.

But Canada got those two back in the seventh when the Americans couldn't line up a double takeout.

Howard made a routine open hit for two.

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USA just missed a deuce in the eighth when Todhunter came up a couple of inches short with his freeze attempt. Birr made a double takeout with his first rock and a takeout with his second but failed to roll out and got a single point.

The Americans had two counters spread in the ninth when Howard hit for one to restore the two-point lead.

In the tenth, the Americans had two counters when Howard made a perfect hit and roll to freeze to the U. S. stone touching the button.

Birr tried to jiggle the Canadian stone out of scoring position but came in just a little too strong, tapping his own stone instead.

Howard then wrecked on his own stone in the 12 foot leaving Birr a chance to chip out the Canadian stone for the win.

In the match, Canada out shot the Americans by a slim 91-90 margin, the best outing for the Birr rink all week.

Other ninth draw winners were Switzerland, Australia and Finland.

Close win

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The Wednesday morning match against last place Korea was closer than anticipated.

The Americans appeared tired after their Canadian win, a match that lasted after 11 p. m.

The Americans were in trouble at the start, giving Korean skip Jimmy Lee a chance for as many as five points in the first. But he missed his last shot allowing the U. S. to steal one.

Lee missed an open takeout in the second as Birr stole another,

The Koreans were forced to take one in third.

After blanking the next two ends, the U. S. finally got something going in the sixth with Birr eventually able to draw the full eight foot for two.

Korea answered with a deuce of its own in the seventh and the pair traded deuces in the eighth and ninth with Korea trailing 6-5 at that point.

In the 10th, Korea worked diligently to keep guards up to hide their stone in the eight foot. But the Americans peeled and peeled with Todhunter making a double peel and got a lucky roll for first count with his last rock.

After Lee put up a center guard, Birr elected to chip out the Korean stone in second position and didn't have to throw his last stone as Lee came up short, trying to draw in closer to the point.

Other winners were France, Germany and Scotland.

Sixth straight

The U. S. closed out in style Thursday afternoon, breaking a 2-2 tie with two in the sixth and adding one in the eighth to lead 5-3.

But the Swedes would not fold and scored twice the ninth to tie, only to see Birr use the hammer to score the winning point in the10th.

Team USA will face Canada tonight in the 1-2 match in the Page Playoff system. The winner gains the gold medal game while the loser will face the winner of the 3-4 game for the second berth.

The U. S. has not won a gold since 1978 or brought home a medal since 1986.

As in the morning match with Korea, the U. S. got off to a shaky start, allowing Sweden to steal one in the first.

Birr got this back with two in the third, chipping out Penja Lindholm's final shot with the hammer.

After blanking the fourth, Lindholm was forced to draw for one in the fifth to tie the score.

Birr left his final rock on the button in the sixth to get another deuce and take a 4-2 lead.

Sweden got one back in the seventh. In the eighth, there were lots of rocks in play once again. Birr was perfect with his last rock and got one for a 5-3 lead.

But the Swedes got two in the ninth when Lindholm used the hammer to tap out the counting U. S. rock and gain the deuce.

The U. S. kept the house clean in the tenth, allowing Birr to make the game-winning shot with a wide open takeout.

The last time the U. S. and Canada met in the playoffs was 2002 in Bismarck. N. D. with Paul Pustovar as skip. Canada also beat the Americans in the semifinals of the Winter Olympic Games last year.

Overall, the Americans hold four gold, five silver and 10 bronze medals in the 48-year history of the World event.

Other 11th draw winners were Canada, Switzerland and Denmark.

WORLD MEN'S

CHAMPIONSHIPS

At Edmonton, Alta.

Ninth Draw

Canada 200-010-201-0---6

USA 001-002-010-3---7

Switzerland 10, Denmark 4

Australia 7, Sweden 3

Finland 8, Norway 7

Tenth Draw

USA 110-002-020-1---7

Korea 001-000-202-0---5

France 10, Switzerland 6

Germany 7, Norway 5

Scotland 7, Australia 5

11th Draw

Sweden 100-010-102-0---5

USA 002-002-010-1---6

Canada 8, Australia 3

Switzerland 7, Finland 4

Denmark 9, Norway 5

Standings

Canada 9-1, USA 8-3, Switzerland 7-4, Germany, France 6-4, Finland, Sweden 5-4, Scotland 4-6, Australia, Norway 4-7, Denmark 3-7, Korea 1-9

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