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Struggling Japan hands Canada its second loss at men's curling worlds

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VICTORIA - Brad Jacobs did not hold anything back.

The skip explained how he really felt — unimpressed — with his efforts as Canada split a pair of games Wednesday at the world men's curling championships.

Jacobs' Northern Ontario rink beat Russia's Andrey Drozdov 8-5 in the afternoon. The victory atoned for a 10-8 loss to struggling Japan in the morning.

"It was another frustrating game," said Jacobs after the victory over Russia. "Today, I couldn't buy a shot, it seemed like. A lot of the ones where we normally will make them on my last ones, we're just not quite getting them.

"For me, as well as the whole team, it's very frustrating, but we were able to just grind it out — just being exhausted — and still get a win out of that last game, and we're remaining in first place in the round-robin. So we're in a great spot."

Heading into Thursday's games against Denmark and Sweden, the Canadians have a strong chance of finishing first or second and getting two cracks at reaching Sunday's final.

"Our fate's in our own hands," said Canadian third Ryan Fry. "If we win the morning game (against Denmark), we give ourselves a pretty reasonable shot of being in the one-two (playoff) game, and being in the one-two game is gravy on top of making the playoffs."

Scotland climbed into a tie with Canada atop the standings at 7-2 with an 8-7 win in 10 ends over Scotland in the late draw.

The home squad didn't play like a top contender against either Russia or Japan. But Fry said the hosts always have to battle against teams that raise their games simply because they are facing Canada.

Drozdov's Russian rink (1-7) entered the game as a distant also-ran, but gave Jacobs a scare. The Russians overcame a 5-3 deficit to forge a 5-5 tie after eight ends. But Jacobs drew for two points in the ninth to go up 7-5 and stole another point in the 10th when Drozdov missed a double-takeout attempt with his final shot.

"We competed very well," said Drozdov, 25, through an interpreter. "This, for sure, will help us, because we need to play a game like this, especially when we go into a big arena with a lot of people. It's good experience."

The Moscow native is used to playing before sparse crowds of no more than 100.

"Strategy-wise, we seemed to get six of the eight shots per end, kind of, figured out," said Russian coach Rodger Schmidt, a Canadian from the Melville, Sask., area who has called Switzerland home for the past two decades.

"And then there were a couple of times where we could have made better choices."

Drozdov shot 70 per cent, while Jacobs curled at an 83 per cent success rate. He provided a better showing after curling at only 72 per in the morning as his rink lost to Japan in an extra end.

"That was a terrible game for me at skip," said Jacobs after shooting 72 per cent against the Japanese. "And if your skip doesn't curl well, you're not going to win."

It was only the Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., rink's second loss, while struggling Japan posted only its third win.

But for the second consecutive day, Jacobs received help from rivals as they lost key games. In other afternoon play, Sweden's Niklas Edin squandered a chance to gain a share of first place by losing 6-5 to Norway's Thomas Ulsrud in the afternoon.

Despite Jacobs' criticism of his play against Japan, the game was decided on the final shot. Morozumi had the hammer in the extra end and made a takeout for two points and the win. Jacobs had extended the game by drawing for a pair in the 10th.

"The Japanese guys made a lot of shots, but they made a lot of questionable calls in that game. Still, they even got results on those questionable calls.

"It goes to show that, sometimes, it's not a game of calls. It's just a game of making shots, and they made a lot of shots today."

Jacobs described Morozumi's shot-making decisions as "risky calls." Morozumi said he had to be aggressive against the Canadians because he knew they would play the same way.

"Canada is one of the top teams, and they made the risky shots as well," said Morozumi through an interpreter. "So we needed to challenge those risky shots as well."

Despite his strong position in the standings, Jacobs, who did not even know Thursday's schedule, was just glad that he had the night off and could get some rest.

"We just need to rest up, recharge the batteries and come out (Thursday) really hungry," said Jacobs. "I'm exhausted."

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