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North America still clings to life at WFG Continental Cup


LAS VEGAS -- Team North America kept its dwindling hopes alive Saturday afternoon in its battle against Team World in the 2019 World Financial Group Continental Cup, presented by Boyd Gaming.

The North Americans, who have been trounced so far in the four-day global curling slugfest, managed to tread water a bit, salvaging a split in points in the afternoon Men's Team Scramble, a new wrinkle added to this year's schedule at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas. The North Americans won one game, Team World another, and they settled for a tie in the third matchup.

The points, meagre as they were for Team North America, helped somewhat offset the morning results where Team World captured 2.5 out of the three available points in Women's Team Scramble to stretch their lead and close in on the 30.5 points needed to close the deal and snap a six-year winless streak. Team World remains in the driver's seat, leading 17.5-6.5 in points.

Team Scramble and Mixed Team Play events put an emphasis on how curlers can perform with teammates they'd regularly play as opponents. In the team scramble, men's and women's teams are mixed to form new same-gender lineups.

The North Americans got a good effort from Calgary skip Kevin Koe who registered a nifty 7-3 win over young Bruce Mouat of Scotland. Koe, supported by U.S. third Chris Plys, second Brett Gallant (St. John's, N.L.) and lead Ben Hebert (Chestermere, Alta.) cracked two three-enders, one of them coming in the fifth end.

"It was a well played game, for sure," said Koe, a two-time world men's champion. "Ice was better today than last night when we played when it was a little frosty."

Koe acknowledged that it's still a long uphill battle for Team North America, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. There is a Mixed Team Play draw slated for Saturday evening, and each game is worth two points, double the amount that has been awarded in the other disciplines so far.

And, of course, there are the 30 points available in the five Skins matches that close out the competition Sunday.

"We're down quite a bit," said Koe. "We need a big session tonight. The points are worth double so hopefully we can win tonight. The good news is tomorrow is worth the most points, especially when you're down as much as our team. We do have a chance. And that's all we want."

Peter de Cruz picked up the Team World win. de Cruz throws second stones but skips, and together with Swiss teammate Benoit Schwarz, who throws skip stones, and a pair of Swedes, third Oskar Eriksson and lead Christoffer Sundgren, the Europeans overwhelmed American skip John Shuster and his Team North America side 6-2.

"I thought it was a lot of fun," said Schwarz. "It was the first time we played with the Swedes, and we know them for a very long time, so it was great to play a full game of curling with them. It was a good performance for us. I think we outplayed them and was an important point for us."

The third afternoon match ended in a 4-4 tie between Team North America's Brad Gushue of St. John's, and Team World's Niklas Edin, two heavyweights in world curling. Gushue was supported by third B.J. Neufeld (Winnipeg) Matt Hamilton of the U.S. and lead Geoff Walker (Edmonton). Edin needed a draw to the button with his final rock of the eighth end to secure the tie.

Play resumes tonight with the Mixed Team Play at 6:30 p.m. (PST).

TSN/TSN2 and RDS2 will provide complete coverage of the World Financial Group Continental Cup. CLICK HERE for the complete schedule. The event is also live in the United States on ESPN3.

The World Financial Group Continental Cup format pits Team North America against Team World in a series of Team Play, Mixed Doubles, Team Scramble, Mixed Team Play and Skins games. Teams earn points by winning games and the first to score 30.5 points is declared the World Financial Group Continental Cup champion.

For ticket information, as well as team lineups and the full event draw for the 2019 World Financial Group Continental Cup, go to https://www.curling.ca/2019continentalcup/

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