Kevin Koe clutch as Canada remains undefeated in men's curling

Steals in 8th, 9th ends guides Canadian rink to comeback victory

Kevin Koe clutch as Canada remains undefeated in men's curling
Canada's Kevin Koe throws a stone during his rink's 7-4 win over Norway on Thursday in Pyeongchang, South Korea. © Wang Zhao/AFP/Getty Images

By CBC Sports

Kevin Koe and Canada robbed Norway of its first men's curling win of the Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, on Thursday.

The Canadian rink scored four unanswered points to end the game and beat the Norwegians 7-4.

Norway skip Thomas Ulsrud fell short on his last rock of the eighth end, leaving a Canadian stone standing for the single.

VIDEO | Koe steals win over Norway

One end later, Ulsrud once again missed his final shot. This time it cost Norway two points and all but sealed Canada's third victory of the Games.

Ulsrud's misses wouldn't have been possible without some clutch shot-making by Koe. Things were looking dire for the Canadians in the ninth end, with CBC analyst Joan McCusker pointing out they were in "all sorts of trouble."

However, Koe responded to the adversity by clearing out Norwegian stones on consecutive shots and forcing Ulsrud to make a tough final throw. Ulsrud, shaken by his eighth-end mishap, couldn't come through.

"They realised they got let off the hook, played awesome and it was just a couple of uncharacteristic misses by Thomas in [ends] eight and nine, but I still think they'll be around at the end of the week," Koe said after the game.

The game marked Canada's third-straight close win to open the Winter Games after they edged Great Britain and Italy by two points each. With the loss, Norway falls to 0-2.

Koe avoids distraction

One thing that was different about Thursday's game was the opponents' attire. Norway donned floral-print pants. That could serve as a distraction for some — just not Koe.

"I think we've played them enough that we're used to them," he said. "That's their trademark and it's been good for the sport. They're a great bunch of guys, I enjoy hanging out with them off the ice. But I don't think we could swing those pants, they're made for certain people."

The Canadians began the game with an opening-end double, before sacrificing singles to Norway in each of the following two ends.

By the seventh, Norway had taken a surprising one-point lead, but the Canadians didn't panic. Four straight points later, they were shaking hands after a three-point victory that was closer than the final score indicates.

"It was a close game, could have gone against us. Obviously any time you win here it feels good because that one especially was a grind," said Koe. "Great time, but we made the shots when we had to coming down the stretch."

The Canadians next play South Korea on Friday.

Canada has won gold in men's curling at the last three Olympic Games. Brad Jacobs skipped the Canadians in Sochi in 2014, Kevin Martin won gold in Vancouver in 2010 and Brad Gushue led the Canadians to victory in Turin in 2006.

The 43-year-old Koe is a three-time Canadian champion and two-time world champ.

With files from The Canadian Press