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Stoughton's Team Canada 2-0 after first day at worlds

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REGINA — Reid Carruthers emerged from the ice here Saturday afternoon after making his debut at the World Men’s Curling Championship and described the experience of walking out on the ice for the first time like a Disneyworld rollercoaster.

Little did he know how prescient the rollercoaster metaphor would be by day’s end.

"The feeling is a rush — it’s like coming over Space Mountain as you’re coming down that final dip. It’s that exhilarating thrill," said Carruthers, rookie second for Jeff Stoughton’s Team Canada foursome.

And that also sums up opening day here for Carruthers, Stoughton and the rest of Team Canada, who took a most unpredictable and wild ride on their way to a most predictable 2-0 record on Day 1.

An 8-4 Canada victory over Switzerland’s Christof Schwaller on the opening draw Saturday afternoon was much closer than the final score indicated, with Canada struggling for much of the first five ends and the game ultimately turning on just two shots: a failed draw attempt by Schwaller in the fifth end that gave Canada a steal of three and a clutch raised double-takeout by Stoughton in the ninth end that extinguished a Swiss comeback.

But the real stomach-churners were saved for Saturday night against Denmark’s Tommy Stjerne. Playing before a sold-out at the Brandt Centre, Stoughton was widely expected to romp against a Danish team with an average age of 51, hopeless mechanics and a second who just might have the wobbliest delivery in the history of the the men’s worlds.

But after jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first end and then holding Denmark to one in the second, the wheels came off for Canada in the third end as an almost comical series of half-shots by the Canadians had Stoughton facing three Danish counters with his last and needing nothing less than the button just to score one. His draw attempt failed to curl and wasn’t even close, handing Denmark a steal of three and a stunning 4-2 lead.

That seemed to embolden Denmark — at least temporarily — and they held hammer and a 4-3 lead heading into the fifth end break.

But just when it seemed like one of the most unlikeliest upsets in world’s history was in the making, the Canadians promptly awoke from their slumber and played a perfect sixth end that ended with Stjerne flashing on his last and Stoughton stealing four right back.

Two ends later, Denmark was shaking hands, Canada had a 9-5 win and all was right in the worlds again.

And Stoughton? No worries, he said. "Good day — 2-0, that’s perfect. That’s what we wanted, that’s all we can ask for. It doesn’t matter how we get them, we’re taking them.

"It was just one end that got us there," Stoughton said of the Danish dramatics. "We knew we were going to get some misses. We took our time, we were patient and we finally got our big end there to take control of the game."

Canada plays just one game on Sunday, taking on Germany’s Andy Kapp, who is 0-1 after a 6-4 loss to China Saturday night.

The only other team at 2-0 heading into Sunday is France’s Thomas Dufour, who had victories over two lightweights — Czech Republic and Korea — on opening day. Norway, United States, Scotland and China are 1-0; Sweden, Germany, Czech Republic and Switzerland are 0-1; and Korea and Denmark are 0-2.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

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