Skip Kevin Koe, Canada hang on to beat Great Britain

Calgary-based rink prevails 6-4, improving to 2-0 at Olympic men's curling tournament

Skip Kevin Koe, Canada hang on to beat Great Britain
Skip Kevin Koe curled 86 per cent to lead the Canadian men's team to a 6-4 win over Great Britain on Wednesday in round-robin play Wednesday at the Olympics in Gangneung, South Korea. © Natacha Pisarenko/Associated Press

By Doug Harrison, CBC Sports

Three-time world champion Kevin Koe and his Canadian men's rink are settling in nicely at the Olympics, defeating Great Britain 6-4 on Wednesday in a hard-fought curling match that followed a tourney-opening 5-3 win over Italy.

Canada scored two in the opening end on a Koe wide open hit and never trailed to improve its record to 2-0 in round-robin play.

VIDEO | Canada improves to 2-0 in men's curling

However, Great Britain, which endured an error-filled start at the 3,500-seat Gangneung Curling Centre, stayed within reach with single points in the fifth and sixth end to cut into a 4-1 deficit.

"We're not the most consistent team out there, but when it's the big event we play our best," Koe, making his Olympic debut, told CBC Sports recently. "And this is the biggest event there is."

A three-time Canadian champion, Koe was pushed at the Olympic trials, needing a draw to the four-foot for a 7-6 win over Winnipeg's Mike McEwen.

Through 20 ends in South Korea, world No. 5 Canada has allowed seven points, all singles, but Koe, second Brent Laing, third Marc Kennedy and lead Ben Hebert could be in tough against Norway's Thomas Ulsrud on Thursday at 12:05 a.m. ET. Ulsrud (0-1) is expected to challenge the 43-year-old Canadian skip for a gold medal.

Koe and his Calgary-based Glencoe Club rink are attempting to extend Canada's run of men's curling gold to four, following Brad Gushue (2006), Kevin Martin (2010) and Brad Jacobs, who jumped out to an early 5-1 lead on the way to a 9-3 gold-medal victory over the Brits four years ago.

Clutch shots by Laing, Kennedy

Up 5-4 Wednesday with the hammer in the 10th and final end, Canada leaned on its experience of 36 Brier appearances between the foursome as Great Britain skip Kyle Smith's last shot rolled out of the house, scoring one for Koe, who didn't need to throw his final rock.

VIDEO | Analysis of Canada's hard-fought victory

With Canada clinging to a slim lead, great peels by Laing and Kennedy took the team out of trouble in a blank ninth end.

Canada took a 5-3 advantage in the seventh but Great Britain responded with a single in the eighth end.

Leading 2-1, Koe went up 4-1 in the third end, settling for two after going a little heavy on his final shot. But Smith got one back in the fifth with a double takeout, but was curling just 63 per cent while Koe was at 93 per cent.

Koe overcurled his final shot on an attempted double takeout as it rubbed a British rock only slightly, leading to a big steal of one for Smith and his teammates.

Canada has seven games remaining in the round robin as each of the 10 teams play the others once, with the top four advancing to the semifinals.

Since 2006, Canada has won three Winter Games gold medals and 12 world championships.