Pat Simmons dropped a 7-6 decision to Norway's Thomas Ulsrud in the Page playoff 1-2 game Friday night at Scotiabank Centre. The win sent the defending champion straight to Sunday's final while Simmons will have to win a semifinal on Saturday in order to play for the title.
"We've got to battle back here," said Canada third John Morris. "If we can play like we did tonight and just capitalize on those opportunities, I like our chances here still."
Ulsrud hit a draw to the four-foot to score one in the extra end of a rollicking back-and-forth game that could have gone either way. Simmons will play the winner of Saturday's Page playoff 3-4 game between Finland's Aku Kauste and Sweden's Niklas Edin.
Simmons nearly won the game in the 10th end. He made a hit for one to tie it and almost scored a second point but his stone just rolled out.
"It's a matter of grinning and bearing it and dealing with it," Simmons said of the loss. "We'll have to play a really good game tomorrow and that's just the way it goes."
Kauste defeated American John Shuster in a tiebreaker game earlier Friday to secure the fourth seed. The semifinal loser will meet the 3-4 game loser for the bronze medal on Sunday.
Both Canada and Norway finished round-robin play with 10-1 records but Ulsrud took the top seed since he beat Simmons in their lone head-to-head round-robin meeting.
The Norwegian skip had hammer in the first end and he used it to make a draw to the four-foot for the early lead. Simmons answered with a hit and stay for a deuce in the second.
Ulsrud pulled even in the third and after a blanked end, put pressure on Simmons in the fifth. Norway was laying three but the Canadian skip coolly hit the button for a 3-2 lead.
The teams took turns making freezes near the button later in the sixth end. Ulsrud had final throw and just missed a runback to give Canada a steal of one.
Morris hit a double takeout in the seventh end to leave Canada sitting three with a chance to steal. Ulsrud cleared one stone with his first throw and followed it up with a clutch raise double to score a pair and tie the game.
The throw was a game-changer — Ulsrud turned around and emphatically pumped his fist in the air after nailing it. Simmons gave him a friendly broom tap as he walked by to acknowledge the shot quality.
"They left that shot," Ulsrud said. "I guess they could easily have won the game right there but we managed to tie it up and from there on it was really tight."
Canada regained the lead in the eighth end as Simmons hit a draw to the button for a single. Ulsrud answered in the ninth with a hit for two and a 6-5 lead.
Ulsrud made up for third Torger Nergard's weak shooting percentage of 70 per cent. The skip finished at 91 per cent and his team was at 81 per cent.
The Canadian team shot at 85 per cent and Simmons was at 81 per cent.
Canadian curling legend Randy Ferbey was honoured during the fifth-end break with his formal induction into the World Curling Hall of Fame. Ferbey, who was named to the Hall last year, won a record six national men's titles.
Attendance picked up Friday in the 10,500-seat venue although most of the upper level was empty. A crowd of 2,788 took in the tiebreaker and 4,441 fans were on hand for the evening game.
Notes: Canada settled for a fourth-place finish at last year's world championship in Beijing. ... Edin won a world title in 2013. ... Russ Howard and Ray Turnbull will be inducted into the World Curling Hall of Fame on Saturday. ... The between-end entertainment started prematurely in the first end. The event host started welcoming a young dance troupe to ice level before Ulsrud had thrown his final stone. The Norwegian skip laughed it off and calmly made his draw for a single. ... The 2016 world men's championship will be held in Basel, Switzerland. Canada's last world title was won in Basel in 2012, when Glenn Howard took the gold.
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