OTTAWA – An opening weekend round-robin game was part of the usual buildup to the playoffs for a perennial curling contender like Canada’s Brad Gushue.
It was quite the opposite for New Zealand’s Anton Hood.
The 23-year-old Auckland skip was in new territory Sunday at his first world men’s championship, playing a curling power like Canada in front of the host team’s adoring crowd.
Hood – ranked No. 188 in the world – soaked in the full TD Place experience and was still smiling afterward despite dropping an 8-2 decision.
“It’s just awesome to watch how they do it and how they play,” said Hood. “We learned so much just from that game alone.”
The fourth-ranked Gushue opened with a deuce and iced the win with a hit for three as New Zealand conceded after seven ends.
“It was pretty incredible to play in front of a crowd of (several) thousand against Canada in Canada,” Hood said. “We loved every minute of it.”
Gushue did face some anxious moments in what looked like a lopsided matchup on paper.
Hood made an angle-raise double-takeout to sit three in the second end. Gushue drew the button but still left an around-the-horn possibility that could have given New Zealand a whopping six points if made.
However, Hood played the wrong turn – using an out-turn instead of an in-turn – and nosed the stone to give up a steal.
“We dodged that bullet,” Gushue said. “Really from that point on I feel like we controlled the game and didn’t give him much of a chance.”
Hood (0-3) called it a good example of a learning experience on one of the sport’s biggest stages.
“We really just needed to take a second and slow down and take that opportunity,” he said.
Canada would force Hood to make some great draws to prevent big ends. He successfully drew against four in the third end and did it again against five Canada stones in the sixth.
Gushue fell to 2-2 in the evening. Norway’s Magnus Ramsfjell stole a pair in the 10th end for an 8-6 victory when Gushue was heavy with his final draw.
In Draw 4 results, defending champion Niklas Edin of Sweden defeated Scotland’s Bruce Mouat 7-4 in a rematch of last year’s Olympic final.
Switzerland’s Yannick Schwaller beat Germany’s Sixten Totzek 7-3 and Japan’s Riku Yanagisawa dumped South Korea’s Byeongjin Jeong 9-2.
In late games, Germany rebounded with a 10-6 win over Lukas Klima of the Czech Republic. Japan edged American John Shuster 6-5 and Italy’s Joel Retornaz defeated Turkey’s Ugurcan Karagoz 7-2.
Canada jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Norway but Ramsfjell chipped away at the lead. He picked up a steal in the seventh when Gushue missed a double-takeout and drew for a pair in the ninth to tie it.
Norway had two stones under cover in the four-foot ring in the 10th, forcing Gushue to try for a piece of the button.
“I thought they played pretty well and we just didn’t execute as well as we needed to,” Gushue said.
Japan, Norway, Sweden and Switzerland were all 3-0. Scotland was next at 2-1 and Canada was next at 2-2 ahead of four teams at 1-2.
The top six rinks in the 13-team field at the end of round-robin play will qualify for the playoffs. Medal games are scheduled for April 9.
Gushue’s St. John’s, N.L.-based side took silver at last year’s world championship in Las Vegas. His lone world title came in 2017 at Edmonton.