Junior Men Session 9 Roundup

Norway and USA secure final guranteed places for the World Junior Curling Championships 2016 Photo © WCF / Patrick Fulgencio 2015

The men's round-robin programme concluded today at the Tondiraba Ice Hall in Tallinn, Estonia, with three games that would decide which of Italy, Korea, Norway, Russia or USA would take up the last two guaranteed places in next year's Championship line-up.

The four participants in this year's Page Play-offs - Canada and Switzerland, and Sweden and Scotland - had been determined before this ninth session, and, with new qualification rules only guaranteeing six places in next year's line-up, the spotlight fell on three crucial games.

The seventh guaranteed place in next year's line-up goes to the event hosts, and this nation - not participating in this year's Championships - will be formally announced at the closing ceremony.

In their game with Russia, USA blanked the first two ends and then opened the scoring with two points in the third end. In the fourth end, an umpire's measure gave USA a steal of two points for a 4-0 lead and they built on that with a further single point steal in the fifth end to take a 5-0 lead into the half-time break.

Russia blanked the sixth end and then gave up a further steal of two points in the seventh end, after which they conceded.

After his win, USA skip Ethan Meyers said: “We absolutely shot the lights out and that’s what happens. They didn’t make all of their shots and left a couple draws short to give us steals … and we took advantage.”

Norway faced Italy in the other crunch game of this session. This was much tighter, featuring three blank ends.

Italy had built a 3-1 lead after seven ends but Norway came right back in the eighth end, scoring three points to take a 4-3 lead. Italy scored one point in the ninth end to level the game at 4-4 and set up a tense last end.

Eventually, this game - and the qualifying slot - came down to a draw for one point by Norway's fourth player Markus Skogvold that gave his team a precious 5-4 victory.

Afterwards, Norway skip Gaute Nepstad said: "I’m glad, I’m happy. It was a nail biter all the way to the very end so we are very happy."

Canada played a Korean team that was also fighting for a qualification place for next year.

Canada opened with a single point in the first end and then stole another point in the third end. Korea levelled the game at 2-2 by scoring two points in the fifth end. After the break, Canada moved ahead again with a score of three points in the sixth end for a 5-2 lead.

The teams swapped single points for the next three ends, giving Canada a 6-4 lead as they played the tenth end. Eventually, Canada's skip Braden Calvert knocked out a Korean stone in the house to give Korea one point from the end, but claim a 6-4 victory that sees his team sit at the top of the ranking as they go into the Page Play-offs.

Afterwards, Calvert said: “It was nerve-wracking out there. It’s the kind of game you want to play going into playoffs. I think it will set us up well for the playoffs since there will be quite a bit of pressure on us.”

These three results mean that USA and Norway claimed the last two slots in next year's championship line-up.

Two top-of-the-table teams, Sweden and Switzerland played each other in this session, and it was the Swedes who emerged as winners, with an 8-2 score. They opened the scoring in the second end when skip Fredrik Nyman drew for one point.

In the third end, Switzerland's fourth player Romano Meier was heavy with his last draw, and Sweden took a 3-0 lead. Eventually, Nyman drew his final shot in the eighth end for a score of three points from the end and an 8-2 win.

Afterwards, Nyman said: “We played better than ever so we are more confident. We beat the reigning world champions and after this win it feels like nothing can stop us."

Looking forward, he added: “You just have to stay relaxed, don’t take it too serious I think and just have fun."

Scotland concluded their round-robin programme with a one-sided 8-1 win over Estonia in just six ends.

The Scots dominated, opening with a score of two points and then stealing two points in the second end when Estonia's fourth player and skip for the last several games, Sander Rouk was heavy and through with his final stone.

A single point steal followed in the third end when Rouk was heavy again, and this was followed by a further steal of two points in the fourth after a measure, Rouk being short with his draw this time.

Estonia finally got onto the scoreboard with a single point in the fifth end, thanks to a well-played nose-hit by Rouk. The team played out the sixth end and Scottish skip Bruce Mouat scored the final point of the game with a nose-hit.

Afterwards, Scotland's Mouat said: “That was a good game for us. We played really solid, hopefully we can keep that going We’re against Sweden now, we already knew that so we are just going to have to come out and play well."

RESULTS

Session 9: Canada 6, Korea 5; Norway 5, Italy 4; Sweden 8, Switzerland 2; Russia 0, USA 7; Estonia 1, Scotland 8.

Standings after 9 sessions of play (W-L):

1. Canada (8-1) Q
2. Switzerland (7-2) Q
3. Scotland (6-3) Q
4. Sweden (6-3) Q
5. USA (4-5)
6. Norway (4-5)
7. Korea (3-6) B
8. Italy (3-6) B
9. Russia (3-6) B
10. Estonia (1-8) B

B - Teams now drop into the World Junior-B Curling Championship 2016 event taking place in Lohja, Finland in January 2016. The three medal winning teams from this qualification event will then participate in the World Junior Curling Championships 2016.

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