Matt Hamilton had some fun with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and then went back to work to help skip John Shuster to an 8-3 win that was Team World’s only victory Friday evening at the 2018 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Service Experts.
On two other sheets, however, deuces were wild and effective for Team World with Niklas Edin and Anna Hasselborg using them to help their side earn a split of the points and keep Team North America from opening a wider gap going into the final two days of the competition.
Team North America took 4.5 of six points Friday for a 10.5 to 7.5 lead. The first team to reach 30.5 points will lay claim to the World Financial Group Continental Cup. Each game in the team play is worth one point in the overall standings to the winning team.
A total of 60 points are available over the four days of competition, which features traditional team games, mixed doubles games and skins games, with the first team to reach 30.5 points declared the winner.
Edin scored deuces in the first and sixth ends to nip Team North America’s Brad Gushue 5-3 while Hasselborg scored twos in the second, sixth and eight ends to tie Rachel Homan 6-6 and split the point available in their game.
“That was cool, man, really cool that your prime minister would show up for our curling event,” Shuster said after his victory and long after Trudeau had departed. “It’s a once in a lifetime chance to meet a country’s leader for the players on the bench, and even Matty went over and gave him a little hello and had a little conversation with him.”
With Trudeau watching from the Team North America players’ bench, Shuster scored two in the first end and stole singles in the next three for a 5-0 lead they nursed home to victory. It was Team North America’s only win, however.
After scoring two in the seventh to take a 6-4 lead, Homan gave up a deuce in eight and settled for the tie.
Gushue fell behind early and was never able to get back even on the scoreboard.
“That was a solid game from the start,” said Edin. “Winning the hammer is huge in a game like that and getting the deuce was huge. They could have stolen two in that messy end, but we got two and after that I think we controlled the game.”
“Niklas played really good himself,” said Gushue. “He made a runback triple in the first for two when it looked like we were going to steal a point or two. Even in that last end, we had one on the button buried and he just shoves it down there and makes a double and rolls out to open up the four foot. An incredible shot that I think maybe two of three players in the world would try and maybe one of them would actually take on, and that’s Niklas.”
Meanwhile Glenn Howard completed a three-game sweep of the Americas challenge with Marcelo Mello of Brazil with a 6-3 win that gave Canada a spot in the 2018 World Men’s Championship next spring in Las Vegas.
“To be honest with you, a huge relief,” Howard said after the win. “I knew how massive this challenge was. Really the whole country was riding on this series, so we had to come out guns a blazing and we had to win it. Think about it, if Brazil beats us Canada doesn’t go, first time in history Canada doesn’t go to the world championship.”
The 2018 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Service Experts, continues Saturday with three draws: teams at 9:30 a.m., mixed doubles at 2:30 p.m. and another round of team competition at 7 p.m. (all times Eastern).