Road To The Olympic Games


Canada's Koe edges South Korea, dumps Russia on Day 1 of curling worlds

After an unbeaten run at the national playdowns, Canada's Kevin Koe picked up where he left off Saturday at the world men's curling championship. Koe made an open hit for the single point and a 6-5 extra-end victory over South Korea in the opener before dumping Russia 11-3 in the night game.

Canadian skip carrying over success from national playdowns

Canada skip Kevin Koe delivers a shot during a match against South Korea at the world men's curling championship in Lethbridge, Alta., on Saturday. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

After an unbeaten run at the national playdowns, Canada's Kevin Koe picked up where he left off Saturday at the world men's curling championship in Lethbridge, Alta.

Koe made an open hit for the single point and a 6-5 extra-end victory over South Korea's SooHyuk Kim in the opener before dumping Russia's Sergey Glukhov 11-3 in the night game.

The Calgary-based team, which includes third B.J. Neufeld, second Colton Flasch and lead Ben Hebert, was the only rink to open with two victories on Day 1 at the Enmax Centre.

In a tight opener, Neufeld set things up nicely in the extra end. His brilliant double peel was followed by a throw that cleared things out and also tapped the lone South Korean stone off the 12-foot ring.

"I thought we played solid," Koe said. "No huge misses out there. We didn't push the issue. We'll have to get better as the week goes but a win is a win."

WATCH | Koe seals win over South Korea with extra-end open hit:

Kevin Koe and Team Canada beats South Korea's Soo Hyuk Kim 6-5 at the world men's curling championship. 0:41

The 56th-ranked Glukhov, who dropped an 8-2 decision to Scotland's Bruce Mouat earlier in the day, was overmatched in the nightcap.

Koe opened with three points, added a deuce in the third and tacked on three more in the fifth. With things well in hand, Canada alternate Ted Appelman came on for Hebert after the mid-game break.

The teams shook hands after Koe scored three more points in the seventh end.

Round-robin play continues through Friday night with the top six teams making the weekend playoffs.

Kim, the world No. 49, wasn't afraid to be aggressive against the top-ranked Koe. He delivered a nice angle-raise runback to sit shot stone in the first end before drawing for one.

WATCH | Koe, Canada dump Russia at curling worlds:

Koe's Team Canada posted a dominating 11-3 victory over Russia's Sergey Glukhov to improve to 2-0 at the men's curling world championships in Lethbridge, Alberta. 0:54

Koe was also in form. He drew for three points in the second end and nailed a hit and roll in the fifth that led to a single and 4-2 lead heading into the break.

"It was a bit of a grind, but we were always in control," Koe said. "We weren't really in trouble. A little bit of a defensive game but I thought we played solid."

The Canadians regained hammer in the sixth by forcing South Korea to a single and used it to blank the next two ends.

In the ninth, with Canada sitting one in a crowded house, both skips were off on their final draw attempts. Kim was light and Koe was wide as Canada took a single.

Needing a deuce to force an extra end, Kim caught a break when Koe missed a double takeout on his final throw. Kim coolly drew to the eight-foot ring for the pair.

"We were totally in control that game, but it was still a little nerve-racking because they never go away," Koe said.

Koe struggled when he was forced to draw wide. But he could rely on his hits and finished with a shooting percentage of 84 per cent.

Canada threw 86 per cent overall. Kim finished at 82 per cent while his team came in at 78 per cent.

"We knew it was going to be a battle," said Canada coach John Dunn. "There's not going to be an easy game at this championship for us.

"Everybody wants to beat Canada. So be patient, be disciplined. I think we just showed that we did that."

Opening-day roundup

Defending champion Niklas Edin had the afternoon off before downing China's Qiang Zou 9-4 in the evening. Italy's Joel Retornaz whipped Germany's Marc Muskatewitz 9-3 and Switzerland's Peter De Cruz defeated Norway's Magnus Ramsfjell 10-4.

Earlier, Japan's Yuta Matsumura topped Italy 6-4 and Jaap Van Dorp of the Netherlands scored two in the 10th end for a 6-5 win over American John Shuster.

Koe, a two-time world champion, last represented Canada at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, where he finished fourth.

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