VANCOUVER, British Columbia - Although the city of Vancouver is named after a British captain (George Vancouver), its ancestral ties didn't help Great Britain tonight as Canada's neighbors to the south squeaked out a last-rock win to improve to 4-1 in the round robin standings at the 2010 Paralympic Winter Games.
"Making tough shots like that at the end of the game is good practice for the end of the week," USA skip Augusto Perez said. "That's what makes this game exciting, right? It wasn't our best game of the week, but I told them to just leave me a path to make a shot."
With the win, the Americans are in a tie for first place with Canada, which suffered its first loss of the week to Sweden, 8-4. But the win tonight wasn't without drama. In the tournament's first extra-end game, USA survived a late rally by Michael McCreadie's rink to keep the win streak alive as Perez drew to the center of the house for the win.
"If you give GB enough room to breathe, they'll come back and get you," Perez said. "GB is never an easy game and it might not show on the scoreboard but they're a strong team."
In an up-and-down game where the ghost of missed shots kept rearing its ugly head, the U.S. showed signs of brilliance and weakness all within nine ends.
Perez (East Syracuse, N.Y.) and teammates Patrick McDonald (Orangevale, Calif.), James Pierce (North Syracuse, N.Y.) and Jacqui Kapinowski (Point Pleasant, N.J.) didn't start the game as they'd like, missing five shots in a row before Perez made a takeout to score a single and save the end for his teammates.
"That's the worst I've played all week," McDonald said. "It's not like golf where you shoot a 63 and come back the next day and do it again. Hopefully, I got my bad game out of my system, and it's the only one."
The Americans got back on track in the second end with Kapinowski getting a stone tucked behind the center guard and the U.S. quickly added to the bounty. With Aileen Neilson throwing last rocks, GB gave U.S. a steal of one when Neilson's final stone clipped a guard and sailed out the back of the rings. GB got a stone in scoring position behind the small wall of guards in the third but McDonald was able to get a big enough bite of granite to push it out. Perez then used his final stone to knock out the lone GB rock and leave three U.S. stones in the house, forcing Neilson to draw into the eight-foot but she had too much weight on it and gave the U.S. three more points.
The Americans were just a bit off with some of their shots in the fourth end as GB found its rhythm, scoring two points to cut the U.S. lead to three. After forcing Perez into a single in the fifth, Neilson had a pistol of a takeout in the sixth to score two points and inch closer at 6-4.
Kapinowski got a stone behind the corner guard early in the seventh end to keep Great Britain chasing. Pierce followed her in to place a second rock in the house and benefitted when GB couldn't convert the double takeout. McDonald and Perez failed to remove the GB rock in the side of the house, forcing Perez to make a clutch draw to the four-foot for a single.
The Americans kept the house fairly empty in the eighth until misses by McDonald and Perez gave GB a chance to score three and send the game into overtime. The Americans wanted to employ a similar strategy of keeping things uncluttered in the extra end but more misses by the Americans gave GB a window of opportunity. Neilson, however, left the four-foot open for Perez to draw in the game-winner.
"It can be cruel at times. It's just a small margin between winning and losing," McCreadie said. "If we win every game we still can think about playoffs."
The Americans return to the ice on Tuesday with one match against Sweden (2-3) at 6 p.m.
The official site of the U.S. Paralympic Team, www.usparalympics.org, will also offer daily video and news highlights of the competition from Vancouver. Also check out www.paralympicsport.tv for on- demand feeds.
USA line score:
Great Britain 000 202 03 0 7
*USA 113 010 10 1 8
*last stone in first end
Game scores: Sweden 8, Canada 4; Switzerland 9, Germany 3; Norway 9, Korea 6; USA 8, Great Britain 7
Great Britain 1-4
Live scoring from the event will be http://www.vancouver2010.com/paralympic-games/wheelchair-curling/schedule-and-results/ or visit www.usacurl.org.