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Team Europe takes early lead over Team Canada at Continental Cup curling

LONDON, Ont. — Team Europe built a 7-2 lead over Team Canada with wins in all three draws on Thursday in the first day of competition at the Continental Cup.

Europe started all three games in the third draw with hammer and made sure to take advantage.

"Having hammer is super important," said Swiss skip Peter de Cruz about his team's evening sweep. "Nowadays in curling, it's key."

De Cruz had the hardest task on paper in his matchup against defending Brier champion Kevin Koe of Calgary.

Yet, it was de Cruz — throwing second rocks — who hung on to a 7-6 win.  In other games, Scotland's Bruce Mouat took care of Toronto's John Epping 9-5 and Sweden's Anna Hasselborg doubled up defending Scotties champion Chelsea Carey of Calgary 6-3.

De Cruz paved the way to his win with a pair of deuces in the first three ends while holding Koe to a single, then stealing another pair in the fourth for a commanding 6-1 lead.

"It's always satisfying to beat him," said de Cruz. "We actually have a pretty good record against Kevin. I think we're pretty even in the last couple of years but he's super fierce, super good."

In the sixth end de Cruz chiselled out a near-frozen Koe rock.

New team names are being used at this year's event. Team World beat Team North America 34-26 last year in Las Vegas. 

Team Europe/Team World has won the competition on five occasions since the event made its debut in 2002. The competition was not held in 2005, '09 and '10.

The first team to reach 30.5 points will win. The winning side receives $135,000 and the losing side gets $67,500.

Play continues through Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 9, 2020.

The Canadian Press