Brad Gushue and Canada saw their winning streak at the world men’s curling championship come to an end Thursday night in Las Vegas, but the defending champions from St. John’s are still pretty much in control of their destiny when it comes to securing a direct berth to the playoff semifinals.
The Canadians lost 6-5 to the United States to see their record drop to 8-2. That puts Gushue, third Mark Nichols, second Brett Gallant and lead Geoff Walker in third place in the 13-country standings behind Scotland and Sweden, both 9-1.
Under a new world curling championship format, the six teams with the best records at the end of preliminary play will make playoffs (it was four previously). The top two finishers get byes to Saturday's semifinals, with three to six squaring off in a quarter-final round earlier that day. Medal games are Sunday.
Even though Canada enters today, the final day of preliminary play, in third place, it could still claim one of the top two spots. Gushue and Co. would need to beat Niklas Edin and Sweden this morning and finish off with a night-draw victory over last-place Germany tonight.
It wouldn’t be a complete lock — the results of the Swedes’ other Friday game against Japan and the Scots’ matchups with Switzerland and China could also come into play in creating a thruway tiebreaker that might not benefit Canada — but if Gushue wins twice, the odds will be firmly in his favour as far as finishing first or second.
The Canadians downed China 7-4 earlier Thursday for a seventh straight victory in Vegas, but even before they played that game, Gushue and his teammates had already secured a playoff spot.