Koe clinches 2nd as Canada, U.S. to clash in curling semifinal

United States beat Canada 9-7 in round-robin play

By Nick Murray, CBC Sports

Canada's men's curling team will be playing for a sixth consecutive Olympic medal. 

Kevin Koe's rink dominated Denmark 8-3 in the final game of the round-robin, clinching second place in the final standings heading into the semifinals.

"It feels good. After that three-game losing streak to bounce back with a couple wins we knew we needed to," Koe told CBC Sports post-game.

"But we also knew we still controlled our own destiny. We didn't really expect things to shake out the way they did for us to jump all the way up to second."

The win means Canada will have the hammer to start its semifinal rematch against the archrival United States.

Strong start

Koe's rink got out to a big lead right out of the gate. After playing a series of flawless draws following some Danish takeouts, Canada had the button surrounded around the eight-foot. Koe nailed the routine takeout, jumping Canada out to a 4-0 lead after the first end.

With Canada sitting two in the second, Denmark skip Rasmus Stjerne missed a takeout, leaving the Canadians to force Stjerne to take a single point, giving the hammer back to Canada down 4-1.

After trading singles in the third and fourth, Canada opened the lead up even further in the fifth. After Stjerne missed his draw on his last stone, Koe was able to draw to the four-foot to score three.

Denmark blanked the sixth and scored a single in the seventh before shaking hands.

With the game out of reach, Canada brought in alternate Scott Pfeifer in for his first taste of the Olympics.

"It was a little nerve-racking at first but very exciting," a gleeful Pfeifer said.

"I haven't been that nervous or feel those jitters since probably my first slide at the Brier."

"We wanted to get Scott in," said Canadian lead Ben Hebert, whom Pfeifer replaced. "He's been such an amazing curler for so long and such a great part of our new team."

"We love having Scott on the team so to get him in there was special. He made all his shots like we knew he would."

Semifinal showdown

Koe's rink will now face John Shuster's American rink Thursday at 6 a.m. ET.

Canada fell to the U.S. 9-7 in the round-robin. Canada didn't play poorly, but Shuster had a phenomenal match to hand Canada its first-ever curling loss against the U.S. in Olympic curling.

"We're playing great. We're getting comfortable with the ice, and yeah we're in a good spot," Hebert said.

"We're in the medal round so a couple more wins would be juicy."

Sweden took top spot in the group standings as the only team to win seven games. It will play the winner of a tie-breaking game between Great Britain and Switzerland.

"We'll play whoever we get. It doesn't matter at all," said Swedish skip Niklas Edin on whether he has a preference.

"We know we have hammer. We know we have control. We've played really well so far."