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Brad Jacobs’ slow start at the Sochi Olympics is a distant memory.
Jacobs’ rink from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., clinched second place in the round-robin of the Olympic men’s curling tournament with two wins Sunday, including a 9-8 extra-end victory over China. Jacobs ended the game with a draw to the button on his last stone.
Jacobs’ squad finished the round-robin with a 7-2 record.
That’s a huge difference from how Canada started, with a shaky win over Germany followed by consecutive losses to Sweden and Switzerland.
“When you come to an Olympics, there is so much hype about gold, gold, gold, gold, gold, especially with the Canadian men’s curling team because it is so successful,” Jacobs said.
“We kind of let that get to us a little bit so we had to refocus, regroup ... and stay in the present. Forget about the gold medal. It was all mental. It’s character-building.”
Sweden finished first in the round-robin, winning both its games Sunday, including a 6-4 win over the U.S. It leaves open the possibility of Sweden meeting Canada for the gold medal, which would be a repeat of last year’s world championship final won by Swedish skip Niklas Edin.
Canada opened Sunday’s action with an 8-6 win over the United States.
In the late game, Canada opened the scoring with two in the second end, but China scored two of its own in the third to make it 2-2.
Canada moved ahead with one in the fourth. That lead was short-lived, as China scored three in the fifth for a 5-3 advantage.
China built on that lead with a steal of one in the sixth. But Canada rallied, scoring two in the seventh before stealing one in the eighth to make it 6-6 after Chinese skip Rui Liu had a complete miss on his final shot.
The teams were tied 8-8 after 10 ends to force extra play. Jacobs had the hammer and drew his last stone to the button for one that sealed the win and semifinal berth for Canada.
“We’re tired but overall feel great after that. It was another battle for us – just par for the course – very last end, very last rock, but we got away with it, Canadian second E.J. Harnden said. ”We said before we came into this game we wanted to finish the round-robin strong.
“That’s six in a row for us now so we’re on the right track and feeling good going into the playoffs.”
Norway kept its semifinal hopes alive with a 5-3 win over European-champion Switzerland. The teams were tied 2-2 after five ends before Norway scored one in the sixth, then stole one in the seventh for a 4-2 lead.
China plays Britain on Monday in its last game. The Chinese will advance with a win whereas a victory for the British – combined with Norway beating Denmark – would result in a three-way tie-breaker.
“To be honest, I fancy our chances, I really do,” British skip David Murdoch said. “We have a good record against the Chinese team.
“Obviously they are playing well but so are we. We have only lost a couple of games by a few inches and we need to take the positives from that.”
In other action, Denmark defeated last-place Germany 6-3.