Canada bolstered its chances of qualifying for the mixed doubles curling playoffs at the Beijing Olympics with a dramatic win on Sunday.
Rachel Homan and John Morris both had fantastic late shots to win an extra set 7-5 against Czechs Tomas Paul and Zuzana Paulova.
Homan’s draw to score two goals in the eighth to force an extra inning was the hit of the game.
“It was a big blow, but I think it was worse when I realized there were only two seconds left on the clock,” Homan told CBC’s Colleen Jones afterwards.
The top four nations in the 10-team group at the end of the round robin advance to the semi-finals. Italy is already qualified for the semi-finals. Head-to-head records will serve as a tiebreaker if two nations are tied in the standings. Shots on goal totals come into play when more than two teams are tied.
Canada can clinch a playoff berth with a win over Australia later on Sunday.
“It was probably the most dramatic curling match I’ve ever been in. Those Czechs played so well, and I know how hard they work at that match. They threw everything at us. We thought we had probably lost many times, but you can never give up in this game. I’m really proud of our team for persevering and persevering,” Morris said.
“We got a victory from the depths of defeat in that one. It was a crazy victory.”
WATCH | Clutch shots in the extra inning rob Canadian Homan, Morris:
Homan’s restart shot with Canada’s last rock prevented the Czechs from scoring two and instead forced them to settle for a single rock in the first end. Homan’s draw under pressure with the hammer in the next set allowed Canada to score one and tie things up.
The Czechs scored one in the third, but Canada responded with a single in the fourth end thanks to Homan’s hammer out. It was a stall for the Czechs, however, as Homan had a hit-for-two available to him.
A fantastic sweep from Morris on Homan’s last rock in the fifth end allowed Canada to steal one and take their first lead of the game.
CANADA FOR VICTORY 🇨🇦
AN INCREDIBLE VICTORY FOR THE CANADIANS
THEY STEAL VICTORY
A HUG BETWEEN HOMAN AND MORRIS
The Czechs took advantage of their power play to score two goals in the sixth end and take a 4-3 lead after Paulova pulled out with the hammer. Canada chose to steal a one in the seventh to lose 5-3, but kept the hammer for the eighth end.
The tactic worked, as Homan tied for two in the eighth to even things up at 5-5 and force an extra inning.
Paul’s huge miss with his team’s fourth rock sent Canada on fire, and Homan followed it up with an out to put the pressure on the Czechs. Paulova’s double strikeout with the hammer produced nothing, allowing Canada to steal two and win the game.
WATCH | Highlights: Homan and Morris steal victory for Canada in mixed doubles curling:
Canada will return to action later on Sunday when it closes round robin play against Australia (7:05 a.m. ET) and Italy (8:05 p.m. ET).
The Australians initially withdrew from the Olympics on Sunday after Tahli Gill tested positive for COVID-19. But they were later given a late reprieve following an urgent Medical Expert Panel (MEP) meeting in Beijing.
The Australian Olympic Committee (AOC) received an email from China’s public health system advising that Gill and partner Dean Hewitt could continue to compete under the close contact provisions. MEP reviewed Gill’s CT values after PCR testing over the previous 24 hours and determined that they were within an acceptable range.
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The Australian duo were previously coached by Morris when they moved to Canmore, Alberta last September, and the teams have faced off in practice matches to prepare for the Beijing Olympics.
“They’re warriors. They worked so hard at this game, and they really inspired me. Just their attitudes, and how positive they are and how hard they work… We know we’re going to have a burner barn,” Morris said.
Morris is trying to win his third Olympic medal. He was a member of Kevin Martin’s gold medal winning team at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. He also won mixed doubles gold with Kaitlyn Lawes at the 2018 Pyeongchang Games.
All competitions will be streamed live on CBC Gem, the CBC Sports app and the CBC Sports Beijing 2022 website.
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