SAINT JOHN, N.B. - To win curling games, sometimes you have to steal a few ends.
But to win championships, sometimes you have to steal a whole game to keep things on the rails.
That was true of Team Canada and Rachel Homan Wednesday at the world women's curling championship during an unexpected tussle against the upstart Germans, which was followed by an easy 10-3, eight-end win over the highly touted Koreans.
In the morning, amidst the steady din of school children at Harbour Station, Imogen Lehman's Garmisch crew came into the contest 1-6 but gave Homan, lead Lisa Weagle, second Alison Kreviazuk and third Emma Miskew all they could handle before Canada pulled out a 7-5 win.
The Germans scored a deuce in the third end after swapping singles, and it was Canada chasing the game all the way to the finish.
Ahead 5-3 in the seventh, the Germans forced Canada to take one and looked to be in good shape, but Homan made a solid double in eight to force a blank.
Then, after setting up a certain steal in nine, Homan looked to have blown that chance with a poor final shot. But Lehman missed hers as well, jammed, and gave up a steal to tie.
Thanks to some early missed shots and a flash from the Germans in 10, Lehman faced an almost impossible draw with her final shot against two Canadian rocks on the lid and she was wide, giving up another steal of two and the win.
Shaken but focused, Homan's crew returned to the ice in the afternoon and missed very little against the Korea's Ji-Sun Kim, whose squad struggled badly with ice and rock selection all day and were never really in the game.
The gritty win over the Germans has become a bit of a calling card for the Ottawa crew; adversity seems to be a binding agent.
"We've had a lot of games like that in the past. It's nice to get those and be challenged a bit and be down the whole game... frustrating but we stuck with it," said Homan.
Second Alison Kreviazuk has been struggling with weight and line here this week, but has remained positive and has encouraged her mates to do the same.
"It takes a lot of perseverance... you have to keep your cool and sometime out there, that is tough to do," said Kreviazuk. "I think we all did a pretty good job despite considering what was going on out there."
German skip Lehman, skipping instead of seasoned champ Andrea Schoepp, tipped her cap to Canada after a grinding game.
"I think Rachel is more experienced in skipping. It's the first time for me, so it was a little a bit difficult," said the 24-year-old.
For Homan, the relief of an efficient scrub after such a tough morning game wore on her demeanour.
"I am mentally drained," she admitted. "I need a break and some sleep."
Canada has almost a full day off now -- no game in the morning draw -- but the last two draws Thursday look tough as Homan will face the Chinese, who lost their first two games and haven't been beaten since since, and the co-favoured Swedes.
Homan's team plans a quiet dinner with family heading into the final day of round-robin play.
The victories Wednesday moved Canada to 8-1.
"We have fate in our own hands," Homan said. "We have to win out and see what happens with everyone else."
Switzerland also moved to 7-1 with a win a 10-5 over Scotland; the U.S. kept its playoff hopes alive with a 6-5 extra-end win over the Czech Republic, and China stayed on a roll to go 6-2 with a 9-3 win over Denmark.
In the afternoon draw, Sweden needed an extra end but got it done against the Scots to go 7-1; the Russians continued there good run, remaining at two losses with a 7-4 win over Denmark and the Czechs beat Latvia 10-2.