LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — American skip John Shuster buried a draw to put the pressure on Canada's Kevin Koe in the ninth end of their game at the world men's curling championship on Thursday.
There was just one problem.
Koe could get around the crowded house by playing an in-off — one of the trickier shots in curling — from a stone parked wide by the sheet's sideboard.
Shuster turned to vice-skip Chris Plys and acknowledged the door was still open for the Canadian skip.
"I said, 'Well we left him the Kevin Koe special. Let's see if the old Kudog is still here,'" Shuster said. "And there he was."
Koe threw big weight, brought his rock across the rings and took out the U.S. stone by the button for a highlight-reel shot that essentially wrapped up a 6-3 victory.
The home crowd at the Enmax Centre roared its approval and Koe's teammates emphatically pumped their fists.
"I had goosebumps going there for sure," said Canada lead Ben Hebert. "That was a pretty loud roar. Especially with how big the game was, to get a shot like that to seal it up is huge."
The Calgary skip was in need of a victory after two losses a day earlier. However, Koe couldn't maintain the momentum into the evening and dropped an 8-6 decision to Scotland's Bruce Mouat.
Mouat was down one with hammer in the 10th and hit a double takeout to score three.
"You've got to be pretty precise out there sometimes and we were just a little off there," Koe said.
After 17 draws, Sweden's Niklas Edin was alone in first place at 9-1 after his 7-5 win over South Korea's SooHyuk Kim.
Switzerland's Peter De Cruz was next at 8-2 and Japan's Yuta Matsumura was in third place at 8-3. Canada, Italy's Joel Retornaz and the United States were tied for fourth at 7-3 and Scotland was in seventh place at 6-4.
The top six teams will make the playoffs.
In the morning game, Koe wasted no time thinking about his options after Shuster's last throw. He went down to the other end and coolly delivered under pressure.
"It's all we had but it's a shot I'm comfortable with," Koe said. "We'd thrown some out there earlier, I knew the spot. I thought if I threw it well, we'd be close and luckily for us, we made it.
"That was probably a game-winner right there."
The teams exchanged early singles before blanking three straight ends. Shuster, who struggled with takeouts at 63 per cent, missed a runback in the sixth that gave Koe an open draw for two.
Canada stole a point in the seventh but Koe ticked a guard in the eighth to set up a Shuster deuce that cut the deficit to one. Both teams shot 88 per cent overall.
"I can't remember the last time we lost three in a row so that would have been pretty deflating," Koe said. "We had to find a way to bounce back and I thought we did. There was no real weak spots out there.
"We played a good team game."
Koe was dealt some bad luck in the nightcap when his stone picked in the second end, leading to a Scotland deuce. Mouat stole a point in the third when Koe missed an angle-raise attempt.
Canada was forced to a single in the fourth but stole two points in the fifth when Mouat ticked a guard. Scotland scored a pair in the eighth and Canada answered with a deuce in the ninth.
Koe's first draw in the 10th end was slightly heavy and Mouat took advantage.
"We built a good end again and luckily we had a shot," Mouat said.
Shuster rebounded in the evening with a 10-4 win over Matsumura, who dropped a 6-5 decision to Switzerland in the afternoon.
South Korea beat Norway's Magnus Ramsfjell 8-5 and Italy topped Jaap Van Dorp of the Netherlands 6-4.
Canada will play Switzerland on Friday morning and close out round-robin play against the Netherlands in the evening.
The top two seeds will get byes to the semifinals. Qualification games (No. 3 versus No. 6 and No. 4 versus No. 5) are set for Saturday morning and the medal games will be played Sunday.
The Netherlands, Germany's Marc Muskatewitz and Russia's Sergey Glukhov were 3-7, Norway and China's Qiang Zou were 2-8 and South Korea was 1-10.
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Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press