In a tense final round-robin session on Thursday at the World Junior Curling Championships in Perth, Scotland, Sweden’s Oskar Eriksson beat Scotland’s John Penny by 4-3 to rank first overall on eight wins and move into the 1 v 2 Page Play-off game. At the same time Scotland ranked fifth and ended a brave campaign that had seen them battle illness and struggle to muster enough players for their games.
Defending champions Switzerland will now face Sweden in the 1 v 2 game, after Peter de Cruz’s team beat Finland’s Iiro Sipola by 8-3.
Speaking afterwards, Sweden’s Erikkson said, “it’s too bad for Scotland, but it feels really good that we’ve won eight games in a row after we had a bad loss at the start against Switzerland. It feels very good to get into the number one play-off position and to have hammer. But we’ll have to put pressure on Switzerland. They’re very, very good with draws. We’ll have to try to make them hit more, and we will need to be more aggressive than we were in the round robin game”.
For his part, Switzerland’s Peter de Cruz said, “We’re into the situation we wanted and we’ll try to go on from there. It’s much harder to defend a title than to win the first, because everyone is expecting you, and most of the time they play their best game against us”.
After the game, a bitterly disappointed Penny from Scotland was gracious enough to acknowledge his opponents’ play. Speaking about Kristian Lindström’s (Swedish fourth player) first stone in the tenth end that virtually sealed the Swedish win, he said, “he played a class shot, absolute class, and that gave him such a good chance”.
Norway’s Steffen Mellemseter beat Denmark’s Mads Norgaard by 6-2 to seal third place with six wins and go onto the Page 3 v 4 game, where he will face Canada’s Braeden Moskowy, who completed a remarkable repair mission after losing his first three games, by beating the Czech Republic’s Lukas Klima by 7-4 for his sixth successive win and fourth place on the rankings.
Afterwards, Moskowy said, “we’re into the playoffs now, no tie-breakers, so that’s a pretty good feeling”.
Asked about his early struggles after his extensive winning streak in Canada this season, he said, “it was a lot of fun when we went undefeated and coasted into the final but anytime you’re into the playoffs it’s a good feeling. If you’d told me at the start of the week we were in the fourth place and into the playoff I’m sure I’d have taken that”.
In the fifth game of the session, USA’s Aaron Wald had the consolation of closing his campaign with three straight wins, beating China’s Jihui Huang by 6-4. These two teams now finish on the same won four, lost five record, in sixth and seventh places. Afterwards, Wald said, “We’ve had a rough time, but winning the last three games was nice. Towards the end of the week we came together a little bit and decided to curl a little better. We didn’t need to think about winning or losing, we just went out and had fun”.
With no tie-breakers needed, the men’s Page games are scheduled for 19:00 local time on Friday, and the Challenge game for the last available European slot in next year’s World Junior Curling Championships in Östersund, Sweden will be played at the same time, with Denmark and the Czech Republic facing each other.
Sweden, Switzerland, Norway, Canada, Scotland and Finland are guaranteed spots at the 2012 World Junior Championships men’s event. USA may have to face a regional challenge and it is the winner of the 2012 Pacific juniors that will get the World Curling Federation’s Pacific region place.
Junior Men’s Standings after Round Robin:
1. Sweden 8-1
2. Switzerland 7-2
3. Norway 6-3
4. Canada 6-3
5. Scotland 5-4
6. USA 4-5
7. China 4-5
8. Finland 3-6
9=Czech Republic 1-8.
Round 9: China 4, USA 6: Norway 6, Denmark 2; Sweden 4, Scotland 3; Switzerland 8, Finland 3; Czech Republic 4, Canada 7.
(1 v 2) Sweden v Switzerland (winner to final, loser to semi-final)
(3 v 4) Norway v Canada (winner to semi-final, loser to bronze medal game)
World Challenge Game: Denmark v Czech Republic
Event website: http://www.wjcc2011.com
Event Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/wjcc2011
Results are mirrored on the WCF results database: http://results.worldcurling.org/default.aspx
Live webcast: http://www.worldcurling.org/wjcc-2011-web-coverage