Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Jacobs taking the hard way again

Must win 3-4 playoff for shot at world title

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VICTORIA -- Brad Jacobs did not have time to smell the cherry blossoms, go whale watching or visit some of Victoria's other scenic sites Friday.

Instead, he and his Northern Ontario rinkmates went to their hotel spa in a bid to relax prior to Saturday's do-or-die playoff game against Denmark at the world men's curling championships.

"We're still alive in this thing, and I think what's huge for us is having the whole day off to just rest the body and rest the mind," said Jacobs.

Canada was relegated to fourth place after closing the round-robin segment with two losses, to Sweden's Niklas Edin and Denmark's Rasmus Stjerne, on Thursday. As a result, Jacobs missed out on a chance at two cracks at qualifying for Sunday's final.

The winner of the three-four playoff game faces the loser of Friday's Page 1 game between two-time world champion David Murdoch's first-place rink from Scotland and the second-place Swedes.

The winner of the Scotland-Sweden contest will advance to the final.

Jacobs' Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., rink, which includes third Ryan Fry and the front-end brother act of E.J. and Ryan Harnden and alternate Matt Dumontelle, is hoping to pull off feats similar to its accomplishments while winning the Brier in Edmonton in early March. The Jacobs fought through the three-four game en route to the triumph.

"We've never done things the easy way, our team," said Jacobs. "We've been in this position before. We know what we have to do if we want to win this thing."

Jacobs and company have lost two in a row and four of their past six games. But, according to Fry, the Canadians are not feeling overly anxious about their skid.

"It's upsetting that we weren't able to win one of our last two games to secure first place, but we're all going to take it for what it is," he said.

"No one's to blame but ourselves for not winning those games. And, all the credit goes to the teams that we played as well. We came up against some very hot skips and hot teams."

The Jacobs crew only arrived later for the worlds than several other teams, but Fry said travel-related fatigue has not been an issue.

Instead, he noted, the Canadians have had a harder time dealing with back-to-back games and short rest times between evening and morning games. As a result, said Fry, the hosts have not been as precise with their shots as they were earlier in the week, when they opened with five straight wins.

The Canadians, he added, have also had to contend with international rinks that play well above their usual level just because Canada is the opposition.

He included Denmark among that group.

"If you don't bring your perfect game, you're going to lose," said Fry. "(The Danes) beat us once. They played well. We know that they can perform to a very high level, and we're going to do our best to play better than what we've been playing -- and more towards the way we were playing at the beginning of the week."

The Danes, who closed out their round-robin schedule by beating Canada 5-3 on Thursday afternoon, have won seven of their past nine games. Stjerne said his Copenhagen-area squad, which includes third Johnny Fredericksen, second Mikkel Poulsen, and Troels Harry at lead, is wary of the Canadians heading into the rematch in wake of Canada's 11-7 loss to Sweden in the final round-robin game for both teams Thursday night.

"It was obvious to see the Canadians had an off day," said Stjerne, a former world junior champion (2009).

"So we know they're going to come back stronger and more prepared, and we know what we're capable of now.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 6, 2013 C8

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