Photo: Aaron Favila/AP
Photo: Aaron Favila/AP

Team Koe battles past Norway for third straight curling victory

Even Team Norway’s distinctly colourful pants couldn’t distract Kevin Koe’s Canadian rink from earning their third straight victory at PyeongChang 2018.

The 7-4 win over Norway, which concluded early on Thursday morning in Canada, has Team Koe sitting alone in first place after three draws in the round robin of the men’s curling competition.

Just like earlier victories against Italy and Great Britain, however, the win over Norway didn’t come easy for the team of Koe, Brent Laing, Marc Kennedy and Ben Hebert. In fact, if not for some late errors by the opposition, the outcome could have been a lot different.

Team Canada’s Team Koe in the Curling qualifiers at PyeongChang 2018, Wednesday, February 14, 2018. (COC Photo by Stephen Hosier)

The Day 6 draw did start brightly, though, as the Canadian skip deftly scored two points with the hammer in the first end.

Norwegian skip Thomas Ulsrud could have equalized things in the second end, but misjudged the weight of his final stone ever so slightly, with a measurement confirming that he’d only scored one.

The Scandinavians would tie it up in the third end, when they escaped with a steal of one. Canada then blanked the fourth end and scored a straightforward single in the fifth, to lead 3-2 at the halfway mark.

Norway would grab the lead for the first time when Ulsrud hit and stuck in the four-foot to score two in the sixth end. Canada was then forced into scoring one in the seventh end, putting Norway in the advantageous position of having the hammer in the eighth end of a tie game.

But the momentum turned on a dime with the final two stones of the eighth end. First, Koe executed a difficult runback double takeout, seemingly forcing Norway to score one. Yet Ulsrud, needing just a draw to the 12-foot, remarkably came up short and allowed Canada to steal one and go up 5-4.

Norway’s Haavard Vad Petersson, left, and Christoffer Svae sweep ice during their men’s curling match against Japan at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea, Wednesday, Feb. 14, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

Ulsrud’s struggles continued in the ninth, as an attempted double takeout with the hammer missed entirely, allowing Canada to score two more and go up 7-4. Team Koe then needed just a series of peels in the 10th end to induce handshakes from the opponents.

The Canadian men don’t play again until Friday morning (6:05 a.m. ET/3:05 a.m. PT), when they clash with South Korea. But Canadian curling fans can get their fix watching Rachel Homan’s rink compete against Sweden (6:05 a.m. ET/3:05 a.m. PT Thursday) and Denmark (12:05 a.m. ET Friday/9:05 p.m. PT Thursday).