CURLING: Washington men outlast Alaska to improve to 2-1 at U.S. Junior Nationals

Feb. 04, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Feb. 3, 2008 Washington outlasts Alaska for second win at 2008 Junior Nationals (PORTAGE, Wis.) - Washington's Matt Thomas team staged a come-from-behind 10-9 win to improve to 2-1 on Sunday night at the 2008 USA Curling Junior National Championships in Portage, Wis. Thomas (Everett, Wash.) and Seattle teammates Sam Galey, Nicholas Pleasants and Jake Vukich stole a single in the 10th end against Alaska's Matt Birklid team and then got two stones in the house early in the extra end. With his last stone, Birklid (Fairbanks, Alaska) made a hit but rolled out giving the Washington junior men the win. The game went back and forth with a lot of big ends and two essential steals with Washington tying the game in the seventh end after Thomas tucked his first stone behind a guard on the button. Alaska answered with three and Washington hung another two points to set up the crowd-pleasing finale. In the only women's match of the night, North Dakota's Amanda Tucker team got its first win of the competition with a 7-6 extra-end win over Utah's Miranda Schieber team. Utah wasn't able to bounce back from a tough extra-end loss earlier today and falls to 0-3. Tucker (St. Thomas, N.D.) and teammates MacKenzie Lank (Lewiston, N.Y.), Madison Lank (Lewiston, N.Y.) and Jen Jacobson (Langdon, N.D.) proved their resiliency with Tucker drawing the house in the extra end for the win. "My stomach is still nervous," Tucker said. "I had three minutes to throw it though, and I intended to use it all." The North Dakota ladies led the entire match until Schieber tied the game with three points in the 10th end. "All the teams here are good, and we just need to work on our self-confidence," Tucker added. Aaron Wald's Minnesota 2 team bounced back from an earlier loss with a 12-5 thumping of Grant Rahn's Illinois team. Chris Plys and his Minnesota 1 team improved to 3-0 while handing New York's Brandon Corbett team its first loss of the competition, 7-2. Plys (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Aanders Brorson (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Perushek (Eveleth, Minn.) and Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) stole the first three ends of the competition to grab a quick 5-0 lead. New York finally got on the scoreboard in the fifth end but Minnesota would score in the next two ends to put the game out of reach. The round robin continues through Friday morning followed by the Page System playoffs in the evening. In the playoffs, the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds will face off with the winner advancing to the championship final and the losing team playing the winner of the No. 3 v. No. 4 game in a semifinal. The championship finals are set for 1 p.m. Saturday. The winning teams from the 2008 Junior Nationals will represent the U.S. at the 2008 World Junior Championships March 1-9 in Ostersund, Sweden. Game scores: (men) Minnesota I 7, New York 2; Minnesota II 12, Illinois 5; Washington 10, Alaska 9; North Dakota women 7, Utah 6 Standings: Women: Massachusetts (Walker) 2-0 Minnesota 1 (Carlson) 2-0 Wisconsin 1 (Spatola) 2-0 Alaska (Hufman) 1-1 Illinois (Stewart) 1-1 Minnesota 2 (Solem) 1-1 Pennsylvania (Anderson) 1-1 North Dakota (Tucker) 1-2 Wisconsin 2 (Schaffer) 0-2 Utah (Schieber) 0-3 Men: Minnesota 1 (Plys) 3-0 North Dakota (Jensen) 2-0 Minnesota 2 (Wald) 2-1 New York (Corbett) 2-1 Washington (Thomas) 2-1 Massachusetts (Dropkin) 1-1 Wisconsin (Caldwell) 1-1 Michigan (Smith) 0-2 Alaska (Birklid) 0-3 Illinois (Rahn) 0-3 USA Curling is sponsored by AIT Worldwide Logistics, AmerAust Technologies and Nike as well as by AT,T, General Motors, The Home Depot, and Bank of America through a joint marketing program with the U.S. Olympic Committee. (30) For more information: Terry Kolesar, USA Curling,, 715-344-1199, Ext. 202, or 608-338-9900 (cell).