A dominating performance: Brad Jacobs and Canada romp to curling gold at Sochi Olympics

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Without hammer in the first end, Great Britain's skip David Murdoch decided to put his team's first rock of the men's gold medal game into the rings.

"Let's play," Canada's third, Ryan Fry was heard to say.

Play they did. And how.

In a throughly dominating and decimating performance, Fry, skip Brad Jacobs and front enders E.J. and Ryan Harnden ran away and hid on Great Britain, claiming the gold in a 9 - 3, eight end, win in the gold medal game at the Sochi Olympics.

The foursome from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, came out firing from top to bottom of their lineup, putting Murdoch under pressure constantly, building a big lead and then systematically defusing any chance the Scottish team had of coming back.

Combining crackerjack shooting and doggedly determined sweeping (don't let anyone tell you physical fitness doesn't make a difference in championship curling), Jacobs and his team made it three in a row for Canada in men's curling at the Olympics. Combined with Jennifer Jones' 6 -3 victory over Sweden in the women's championship, it marks the first time one nation has claimed curling gold on both the men's and women's side at the same Olympics.

Leading 6 -1 after the fourth end, there was little doubt that the Jacobs rink would be caught. Perhaps the best lead-defending team in the world, the foursome flipped the switch on the buzzsaw and cut a swath straight to the top of the podium.

When Fry said "let's play," in that first end, Jacobs had his lead, Ryan Harnden, throw a corner guard and an aggressive start to the game was underway.

Scoring two in the first, that quick start for Canada could have been even better, if not for the spectacular shooting of Murdoch. With Canada lying three all around the button, another counter nearby, they seemed sure to score three, if not four, which would have been the dream start to end all dream starts. Murdoch fired a missile at the pile, striking it just right and removing three. That was a victory, of sorts, for the Scottish team, holding Canada to two points.

It would be the only positive thing they would experience, really, as Murdoch was forced time and time again into difficult shots. After his fine start in the first end, the two-time world championship skip - one of the best in the business - wilted under the pressure. He ended the game shooting just 69%, some of it due to his own mistakes, but much of it due to the difficult positions in which he was repeatedly placed.

Jacobs came back with a nifty little hit and flip in the second end that forced Murdoch into attempting a delicate tap for two points. Murdoch got the tap, but the shooter rolled away and Great Britain was forced to settle for one.

The third end was the real killer, though. With Great Britain third Greg Drummond blasting a terrific triple takeout to blow up a big cluster of Canadian stones, it seemed the team had been bailed out again. However, a Murdoch double takeout attempt clipped a guard, took out just one Canadian stone and left Jacobs to convert a shot for three.

Down 5 - 1, a Murdoch tap attempt in the fourth went awry, a measurement giving a steal of one to Canada.

Canada's big, early cushion was authored, in no minor way, by the great difference between the play of each team's second. E.J. Harnden was cruising along at 91% through three ends, while his counterpart with Great Britain, Scott Andrews, struggled badly, at 38%. That led to great advantage for the Canadians in building big ends and forced Great Britain into a perpetual state of chase.

A team that usually shows a ton of emotion during a game, the Canadian men were mostly reserved in this one, bottling their emotions as they methodically stripped away Great Britain's chances.

Jacobs, who shot a 95%, capped his near perfect performance with a spectacular double takeout in the eighth end, then made a nose hit for a single with his last. It was at that moment that he finally raised his arms in the air and broke into a smile, as Murdoch slid down the ice to concede.

After a sluggish beginning to these Olympics, where the team got out to a 1 and 2 start, the Jacobs rink rifled off eight straight wins, the same number they won (without losing even once) at The Canadian Olympic Trials. Brier champions in 2013, the team from The Soo scrambled to a silver medal at the World Championship and then scuffled their way into the Trials the hard way, coming through a pre-trials event, last November.

No scuffling in the championship game, though. Just ruthless efficiency and a gold medal.

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