Canada's Bottcher hammers Shuster of the U.S. 10-1 in men's world curling

Team Canada skip Brendan Bottcher makes a shot as second Brad Thiessen sweeps against the United States at the Men's World Curling Championships in Calgary, Alta., Monday, April 5, 2021.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

Canada's Brendan Bottcher dominated the reigning Olympic men's curling champion in a 10-1 win over John Shuster of the United States at the world championship Monday.

Bottcher, third Darren Moulding, second Brad Thiessen and lead Karrick Martin from Edmonton improved to 5-1 with a game to play later Monday against South Korea's Jeong Yeong-seok (1-5).

The Canadians scored three points in the second end and stole a total of seven over the third, fourth and fifth ends in a morning draw against the U.S.

Shuster, who dropped to 4-2, shook hands after drawing the button for a single point in the sixth end.

"I don't think you ever go into a game expecting a big blowout," Bottcher said. "I was going into the game just hoping we were going to hit our stride, play that extra half-gear higher than we have been to date.

"I was really proud of the guys for doing that. I thought we played a really solid game, not just in terms of the scoreboard, but we communicated well. We managed rocks well. We threw the rocks really well."

Shuster, third Tyler George and front end Matt Hamilton and John Landsteiner won the first Olympic gold medal in curling for their country in 2018.

Former world junior champ Chris Plys joined Shuster at vice the following season.

They're among the teams expected to challenge Bottcher in Canada's quest for a world title in Calgary.

The Americans fell behind early Monday, however, and the host team gave no quarter.

As Canada loaded the rings with yellow stones, Shuster faced the difficult combination of attempting high-risk shots to get back in the game without having a strong read on ice conditions.

"The top teams out here look at the scoreboard and they know once you start getting down, you've got to start taking more risk and that goes one of two ways: you either make the really hard shots and get back in the game or you miss the really hard shots and it's over," Bottcher said.

"Fortunately for us today, we got the latter. The shots got harder for them and we got a few more misses.

"Even when we were ahead, we were playing our game really well. We kept applying pressure. We didn't give them any room to work with and that's really all you can do when you're in that leading position early."

Bottcher posted a shooting percentage of 100 per cent to Shuster's 39.

"Lots of my shots were one hundred per cent team shots," the skip said. "We made them on the line calling. We made them on the sweeping.

"Our communication was really solid and that's why we got the result."

The top six teams in the field of 14 advance. The top two seeds earn byes to Saturday's semifinals at WinSport's Markin MacPhail Centre.

In the Friday's qualification round, third plays sixth and fourth faces fifth. The winners move on to the semifinals.

Norway's Steffan Walstad and Switzerland's Peter de Cruz, who both had the morning off, were 5-0 and 4-1 respectively.

Sergey Glukhov's Russian Curling Federation team kept pace with Canada at 5-1 following a 10-5 win over Japan's Matsumura Yuta (2-4).

Defending champion Niklas Edin of Sweden drew for an extra-end, 6-5 win over Scotland's Bruce Mouat, which put both teams at 4-2 alongside the U.S.

Italy's Joel Retornaz was 3-2. China's Zou Quiang earned his first win with a 6-5 victory over Denmark's Mads Noergaard (2-4). Germany and the Netherlands were still looking for their first wins.

The top six teams qualify their countries in men's curling for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing. The rest of the Olympic field will be determined in a December qualifier.

"Every team we're going to play from here on out is going to be gunning for us, scrapping for a playoff spot, trying to get wins, trying for Olympic qualification," Bottcher said. "Everyone's got a reason to win.

"We're going to have to keep doing that whether that means we can put together another one hundred per cent game or a 90-plus per cent game. That's what it's going to take to win out there."

There are no spectators for the world championship in Calgary, which was also the case for the Canadian men's, women's and mixed doubles championship there.

Participants are confined to the arena and their hotel to avoid the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 5, 2021.