February 18, 2006
Rocky start
TERRY JONES -- Edmonton Sun

PINEROLO, Italy -- Canada joined two other high-profile teams in a tad of trouble in men's curling yesterday.

Brad Gushue's Newfoundland rink, skipped by Russ Howard went down to a second loss of the Olympic tournament and fell to 4-2 to put themselves in at least mild do-do.

But three-time world champion Peja Lindholm of Sweden and defending Olympic champion Pal Trulsen of Norway are in deep do-do.

Gushue and Howard felt their 8-7 loss to Markku Uusipaavelniemi of Finland last night put them where they didn't want to be.

"If we won that game, we were probably through to the playoffs,'' said Howard.

"Now we're in a little danger.''

Lindholm lost a fourth game of the tournament, this one to David Murdoch of Great Britain, to virtually eliminate himself from a playoff position while Trulsen sits at 3-3.

Murdoch leads at 5-1, with Canada and Finland tied with the USA with 4-2 records and Trulsen's Norwegians, the Italians and Switzerland hanging on at 3-3.

Today the Canadian men have a date with the Italian team which is one of the best stories of the Olympics, with five million people watching them on Italian TV and two million watching them play on replay the next morning.

The Italian team, featuring 22-year-old skip Joel Retornaz, defeated New Zealand 6-5 here last night to go 3-3. Canada also must play 4-2 USA and winless New Zealand, a team which had a hot world championships last year in Victoria but has yet to win a game at the Olympics.

M-15, as Uusipaavelniemi is known for his 15-letter last name was Can't Miss M-15 here last night.

Uusipaavelniemi hit the Canadians with a four-ender on the seventh to swing the game.

"We were looking at stealing two and Markku made a shot which left Brad drawing against four,'' said Howard."It was a very dangerous call he made. But he made it.''

Gushue, too, gave him credit.

"He played a difficult shot and he made it. He was brave enough to try it and good enough to make it.''

Gushue was more upset with the loss than Howard, who said he felt the Canadians played well and lost to a skip and a third who shot the lights out.

"We lost a couple of points because we had good looking shots that didn't get the right calls to put the rocks in the right place,'' said Gushue.

He said the four-ender was one of those calls.

"We sweep that two more inches and we're fine.''