Updated with Wednesday's late game
They still have work to do — some of it would qualify as heavy lifting — but Brad Gushue and Team Canada took a couple of more big steps Wednesday towards gaining a semifinal berth at the world curling championship in Las Vegas.
Gushue and St. John’s rinkmates Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker improved to 7-1, defeating the Netherlands 8-5 Wednesday night after having rolled over Norway’s 8-2 in amorning draw game at Orleans Arena that went just seven ends.
After having posted six straight wins, Canada is tied with Scotland’s Bruce Mouat and Sweden’s Niklas Edin with tournament-best 7-1 records, although the Scots have the advantage in any tiebreaker since they handed Gushue and Co. their lone loss in Sunday.
Canada has yet to play Sweden, the only team to have beaten Scotland.
There are 13 teams at this year’s worlds. After the preliminary round-robin, the top two teams will move directly into the semifinals, while third plays sixth and fourth faces fifth in what are essentially quarter-final games.
But if the defending world champions continues to roll as they have done over the last couple of days and win their remaining four games, then Canada will secure a bye, no matter what other teams do.
The key game in that scenario, as it stands, will be a Friday matchup with the Swedes.
In any case, the Canadians seem to be well on their way to a playoff berth. With a win over China (3-5) in today’s afternoon draw, they could secure a top-six finish. In fact, depending on results of game’s this morning (Canada doesn’t play in the early draw), Gushue and his teammates might have already secured a playoff berth before hitting the ice.
But the way his team has been performing of late, Gushue can’t be settling for anything less than that top-two finish at the conclusion of the round-robin.
“Certainly, from the first game to now, we’ve just been getting better and better, which is a good progression,” he said. “I think a lot of that comes from comfort with the ice.
Besides this afternoon’s game against China, Canada will play the United States (2-6) tonight.
On Friday, they take on Sweden and finish up against Germany (1-8).
With files from Curling Canada