If Canada is going to capture a fourth consecutive world men’s curling title, Brad Jacobs will have to do it the hard way.
Jacobs’s Northern Ontario rink lost its final two round-robin games Thursday — 11-7 to Sweden at night and 5-3 to Denmark in the morning — to wind up fourth.
“It’s a real frustrating way to end the week,” said Jacobs after losing the nightcap to the Swedes “Throwing the rock well and getting very little results, just not making the right shots. It’s very frustrating. We will see what happens.”
The Canadians’ will try to keep their hopes alive Saturday in a do-or-die, three-four playoff game that pits them against Denmark’s Rasmus Stjerne and crew again.
Scotland’s David Murdoch, who finished first with an 8-3 record, and Sweden’s Edin (7-4) will get two cracks at the final, meeting first in Friday’s 1-2 Page playoff contest.
The loser will face the winner of the Denmark-Canada game later Saturday for a second chance to go for gold.
The Canadians needed only one win on the final day to finish first and get two chances to qualify for Sunday’s final.
Instead, the hosts enter the playoff round reeling from four of their last six games. The poor finish contrasted sharply with Jacobs’s 5-0 start, which had extended their win streak since the Brier to 11 games.
Jacobs will have to do what he did at the Brier — go from fourth to first.
“We know how to do it,” said Jacobs. “It’s just trying to stick with it. We’re playing as hard as we can. We are playing our hearts out.
“It hasn’t been working out the last little while.”
Added Canadian third Ryan Fry: “No one’s to blame but ourselves for not winning those games.”
Denmark and Canada matched Sweden’s 7-4 record, but Edin took second by virtue of closing wins over Jacobs and Stjerne. The Danes took third by as a result of their triumph over Jacobs’s Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., rink.
Edin secured his win over Jacobs in the ninth end as he completed a takeout of two and went ahead 9-7. He stole two in the 10th as Jacobs missed a difficult — and desperate — double-takeout attempt.
The Swedish said the chance to get a berth in the one-two playoff game — and a second chance at the final, if necessary — was a huge motivator.
“In this game, we were just all in,” he said. “We took it as a final and tried to play as well as we could.”
A loss could have put the Swedes in a number of tiebreakers, but Edin said his tired team likely would not have made it through.
He is expecting to face the same difficulty that the Canadians provided from Murdoch. It’s hard to say how the struggling Canadians will fare in their rematch with the Danes.
Jacobs was not willing to take the blame for the loss to Denmark.
“Nobody on the planet was beating Denmark today,” said Jacobs, adding his team played well. “I don’t care who you are. They played phenomenal.”
A day earlier, he had blamed himself for his rink’s upset loss to Japan, a distant also-ran, and criticized himself again after his crew eked out a win over Russia, another rink out of playoff contention.
“(The Danes) had to come out and beat us to stay alive — and they did,” said Jacobs.
“We had the luck and we had the breaks to win this game,” said Stjerne. “We had lost some games where we didn’t have the breaks. Sometimes you get them. Sometimes you don’t.”
Stjerne secured the win as he made a great hit-and-roll shot in the ninth end. Nudging a Canadian rock off the button, he picked up two points to go up 5-3. The Danes were then able to run the Canadians out of rocks in the 10th.
“Really, it all came down to the ninth end,” said Jacobs. “I thought we were looking pretty good there — and we weren’t.”
They are not looking great now, either. Canada was lucky to avoid a tiebreaker game after Switzerland’s 6-3 evening win over the Czech Republic assured that Jacobs he would finish no worse than fourth even before his last game ended.
“We’re in the playoffs and we still have a chance, regardless of the fact that we didn’t bring our best performance in the latter part of this week,” said Fry. “The performance was still good enough to earn us a playoff spot and life gives us a chance.”