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Canada remains unbeaten at world men's curling

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The Canadian Press
4/1/2013 1:31:43 AM
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VICTORIA -- Brad Jacobs and his Canadian rink got points for messy housekeeping Sunday at the world men's curling championships.

The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., skip remained unbeaten after three draws as he posted a pair of victories -- an 8-6 decision over Finland's Aku Kauste and a convincing 9-4 triumph over David Murdoch's powerhouse Scotland rink.

"I'm happy that we got (Scotland) out of the way, because I know that they're a great team," said Jacobs. "David Murdoch's a two-time world champ.

"I looked up at the Jumbotron and it showed a list of the past world champs from, like, 2006 til now. I saw his name on their twice. That gave me a little bit more juice, a little bit more motivation to want to win that game, for sure."

Canada, whose players are competing in his first-ever worlds, remained the only undefeated team after handing Scotland its first loss. Jacobs earned both of his wins by mastering a house often cluttered with junk.

The win over Scotland resulted after Canada overcame an early deficit for the second straight game. Jacobs trailed 2-1 following the second end, but made a double takeout in the third en route to earning two points, after Murdoch was heavy with his last.

After scoring two more in the fifth, Jacobs stole two in the seventh end to go up 7-4 before shifting back to his usual peeling effort.

"Until (the seventh), there was rocks in play -- and we like rocks in play," said Jacobs. "It was definitely more of his doing (in later ends), because he was trying to get us into some junk, and we're trying to prevent any of that. I think we did a good job of that."

Murdoch, who won world titles in 2006 and '09, admitted his cluttering efforts did not work. His moves were confounded at key times by Canadian third Ryan Fry's takeouts, notably in the fifth, eighth and ninth ends. The teams shook hands following the ninth as Fry made a raise double takeout and a Murdoch miss enabled Canada to score two.

"We tried to get a little bit going, but these guys throw the big weight well, and they made some nice ones," said Murdoch. "(Fry), he was on fire today."

Scotland coach Soren Gran has tried to keep his squad fresh by using five players and rotating one player -- except Murdoch -- out of every game. The controversial strategy, designed to reduce fatigue, comes after Murdoch replaced the team's former skip Tom Brewster, now the third.

But Murdoch said his crew was not feeling fresh against Canada.

"The energy wasn't quite there, the fire that we had the previous couple games," said Murdoch. "We were tried for a couple ends, (but) these guys made a lot of shots and we didn't really bring our A game, unfortunately."

In the morning draw, Jacobs caused most of the messiness as he overcame an early 4-1 deficit by putting up plenty of junk instead of deploying his usual clean, takeout-based game.

"It wasn't a typical game for us," said Jacobs. "We like to try to build a lead and peel, as everyone knows.

"We did that in the first game (a win over China), but this game was totally the opposite. But it's nice to have a game like that, too, where you have to come back to win."

He and his rink, which includes second E.J. Harnden and lead Ryan Harnden, forced Kauste to make several misses. Things got messy for the Finns again in the evening Sunday as they were hammered 9-2 by Denmark, who stole the last five points.

In other evening draw play, Switzerland doubled the U.S. 8-4, while Norway downed Japan 8-6.

Jacobs' two wins also led to a cluttered leaderboard as six teams -- Scotland, China, the Czechs, Norway, Switzerland and Sweden -- sat tied for second with 2-1 records.

Japan and the U.S. sported identical 1-2 marks while Russia, like Finland, was still seeking its first win.

The Finns seemed rattled in their nightcap after Jacobs was able to overcome his deficit.

"There was a lot of rocks in play because we had to come back," said Jacobs. "We were trying to get rocks in play, and then it was a close game, so we were trying to steal or whatever."

"We knew that we had to grind that (game) out," added Fry. "We made a large amount of shots the last half of the game. Usually, if you outplay the other team in the last half, you'll be somewhere close to a win."

Jacobs posted his eighth-straight victory dating to the Brier that he captured in Edmonton in early March. The streak includes three Brier playoff games and three round-robin contests.

He succeed in his quest to deliver a better performance against Scotland than he did against the Finns.

"It's really not a performance that we're proud of," said Jacobs of his first win. "You never like to struggle like that. But, still, we came back, we fought hard, and we got the win."

The Finns were looking for a strong effort after squandering a 4-0 lead against Sweden in the opening draw Saturday. But they were disappointed again as Kauste struggled with his turns and draw weight.

"We had some really good ends at the beginning, taking the big four where we had control," he said. "Then we just let it go -- a couple of big misses, some ends where we really didn't put our rocks in the right places."

Canada will face the Swiss and Americans on Monday.

Brad Jacobs (Photo: The Canadian Press)

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(Photo: The Canadian Press)
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