CURLING: Minnesota teams slide into final at 2008 U.S. Juniors

Feb. 09, 2008, 1 a.m. (ET)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE Feb. 8, 2008 Minnesota teams slide into final at 2008 Junior Nationals (PORTAGE, Wis.) - Alex Carlson's Minnesota 1 team steamrolled into the championship final by defeating Nina Spatola's Wisconsin 1 team, 6-4, in a dramatic finish Friday night at the 2008 USA Curling Junior National Championships in Portage, Wis. "We were just happy to be in the one-two game," Carlson said. "We are in disbelief." Carlson (Inver Grove Heights, Minn.) made a clutch draw with her first stone in the 10th end to put two stones in scoring position. This forced Spatola, the 2006 junior women's champion, to draw through a tunnel of guards but she wrecked giving Carlson's team the win. "We had control of most of the ends tonight," Carlson said. "We've been playing well all week. The fact that we've played this consistently for this many games in a row says a lot for us." Spatola (McFarland, Wis.) and teammates Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), Anna Plys (Duluth, Minn.) and Jenna Haag (Milton, Wis.) will now play in tomorrow morning's semifinal match against Miranda Solem's Minnesota 2 team which knocked off Monica Walker's Massachusetts rink, 6-4. The Carlson team will play the winner of this match in the championship final at 1 p.m. Solem (Cohasset, Minn.) and teammates Grace Gabower (Milton, Wis.), Julie Lilla (Trempealeau, Wis.) and Chelsea Solem (Cohasset, Minn.) broke open a close game with a steal of two in the eighth end when Laura Hallisey of Massachusetts accidentally bumped her own shot stone out leaving Minnesota 2's stone in scoring position. Walker tried a runback attempt with her final stone but missed and spun in another Minnesota stone at the top of the house in for a steal of two for the rookie team. Solem made a takeout to score one in the 10th end to secure the win and a trip to tomorrow's semifinal game. In men's action, the defending champions from Minnesota skipped by Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.) shook off a few rough ends in the Page Playoff 1-2 game to advance to the championship final by holding off Brandon Corbett's New York team, 9-4. Plys and teammates Aanders Brorson (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Perushek (Eveleth, Minn.) and Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) gave up back-to-back steals to fall behind 4-2 after six ends. Plys bounced back in the seventh end with three points despite coming up short for four. The team then got a stone buried early in the eighth end and stole two points as Corbett came up short on his draw. Another steal of two sewed up the win. Wisconsin's Brad Caldwell rink took down North Dakota's Erik Jensen team in the Page Playoff 3-4 game, 7-4, to advance to the semifinal. Caldwell (Mapleton, Minn.) and teammates Matt Collom (Galesville, Wis.), Tyler Vietanen (Trempealeau, Wis.) and John Landsteiner (Mapleton, Minn.) tied the game with three in the fourth end and then stole two in the following end to take the lead. Another steal in the seventh end made Jensen's team start chasing, but the elder Wisconsin team scored one in the ninth to stamp their trip to the semifinal in the team's first appearance at Junior Nationals. 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. Line scores: Page 1-2 game: Minnesota 1 (Plys)* 101 000 322 X 9 New York (Corbett) 010 111 000 X 4 Page 1-2 game: Wisconsin 1 (Spatola) 001 000 102 0 4 Minnesota 1 (Carlson) * 010 010 020 2 6 Page 3-4 game: Minnesota 2 (Solem)* 010 100 120 1 6 Massachusetts (Walker) 001 001 002 0 4 Page 3-4 game: Wisconsin (Caldwell)* 000 320 101 X 7 North Dakota (Jensen) 021 000 010 X 4 *last stone in first end 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).