Canada closing in on history

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:07 AM ET

REGINA -- Jeff Stoughton is four wins from making history at the world men’s curling championship.

The Winnipeg skip ran his record to 9-0 on Thursday with easy wins over the Czech Republic (9-4) and Sweden (10-6), proving what most already believed, that this is Canada’s event to lose.

If Stoughton, Jon Mead, Reid Carruthers and Steve Gould can win four more games, including their final two round-robin clashes on Thursday and two playoff contests, they will become the 11th team in the event’s 53-year history to take out every competitor.

What would set them apart, however, would be the most consecutive victories, with 13. The current holder of that distinction is the last man to be perfect at the worlds, Winnipeg’s Kerry Burtnyk in 1995, but he had to win ‘only’ 11 games to turn that trick.

Stoughton, who lost one game when he captured the 1996 world crown, just wants to win another title, but he admitted it would be a little extra special if he can run the table.

“It’d be great,” he said. “That would be awesome to go undefeated, but we’ll see what happens. If it doesn’t work out, it doesn’t work out.”

All he really wants to do is win the final, and he got much closer to Sunday’s big game after his afternoon dissection of Sweden’s Niklas Edin, which clinched a berth for the Charleswood Curling Club member in Friday’s 1-2 Page playoff game.

Stoughton then locked up first place from the comfort of his hotel room, as Norway’s Thomas Ulsrud handed Scotland’s Tom Brewster his second loss with a 7-5 victory. That means Stoughton will have the hammer in the first end of the 1-2 game.

Not that the hammer really matters. Stoughton didn’t have it to start his game against Edin, yet he had a 7-3 lead after four ends thanks to four in the second and three more in the fourth.

All four Canadian curlers shot better than 90%, and the team average was a sizzling 93% — its best showing of the week.

“It looks convincing, but you’re out there just grinding away because they’re never out of the game,” Stoughton said. “To get that early four was a bonus, and then to get another three was pretty much icing on the cake.”

Edin, looking like he had just been run over by a Mack truck, tried to keep his chin up despite watching his record fall to 5-3.

“If we can keep it close for half the game I think we got a chance,” said Edin, who was fourth at last year’s Olympics. “We’ve beaten them before, so we know it’s possible. If you just keep making shots you’ll get your chances. It’s just a bit tougher against them than anybody else out there.

“They’ve got (to) 9-0, but I think teams haven’t played that great against them either.”

Stoughton wants to keep the momentum going to avoid the disappointment of his trip to the worlds in Saint John, N.B., in 1999. His Canadian squad lost its last round-robin game after starting with eight consecutive victories and ended up losing the final in an extra end.

The 47-year-old likes the way his squad is building towards the weekend.

“It’s been a great week so far,” he said. “We’ve got lots of work left to do, and we’re not gonna let the train stop, and we’re just gonna keep on rolling.

“So we gotta have two great games (Thursday), and it’ll look good for the playoffs.”

Canada meets China in the morning and Norway at night.

kirk.penton@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/PentonKirk


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