BASEL, Switzerland — Canada's Kevin Koe defeated Norway's Thomas Ulsrud 6-4 on Thursday to lock up first place in the round-robin standings at the world men's curling championship.
The victory gave Koe a berth in the Page Playoff 1-2 game on Friday at St. Jakobshalle. Koe and his Calgary-based rink of third Marc Kennedy, second Brent Laing and lead Ben Hebert scored a key deuce in the seventh end for a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"It's big for a couple reasons," said Koe. "Confidence-wise, to beat a good team like them, and having hammer is a big thing in the playoffs. You know you're going to be playing a good team no matter what and it's just a little reassuring going into a game knowing you have hammer."
Koe won world gold with a different team in 2010. He's looking for Canada's first world title since Glenn Howard prevailed in Basel in 2012.
Canada (9-1) will close out round-robin play later Thursday against Switzerland's Sven Michel (4-5).
Koe showed his form in the third end by navigating a port to make an angle-raise takeout, and then spinning both the promoted stone and his shooter into the eight-foot to score a go-ahead deuce. The veteran skip also made clutch draws in the second and fourth ends to get his team out of trouble.
"It was good to see the skipper play really well," said Kennedy. "He bailed me out the first four ends. We've had a hot skip all year. We're just trying to do the right things to keep him hot. "
Ulsrud won a world title in 2014. He settled for silver last year after falling to Sweden's Niklas Edin — the lone skip to beat Koe this week — in the final.
In the other early games, Denmark's Rasmus Stjerne beat Scotland's Tom Brewster 7-6, Finland's Aku Kauste topped Russia's Alexey Tselousov 9-3 and American John Shuster beat South Korea's Soo Hyuk Kim 8-6.
After 15 draws, Stjerne and Shuster were tied for second place at 7-3. Edin and Japan's Yusuke Morozumi were next at 6-3, ahead of Ulsrud at 6-4.
The top four teams will make the playoffs. The winner of the 1-2 game will advance directly to Sunday's final.
The 3-4 game is set for Saturday. The winner advances to the evening semifinal against the loser of the 1-2 game.
Both medal games will be played Sunday.
The Canadian Press