(MONCTON, New Brunswick) - With a convincing 9-1 win over Yusuke Morozumi's rink from Japan this morning, the American men's team has a few heads spinning as the U.S. continues to stay among the teams racing for playoff spots at the 2009 Ford World Men's Championship at the Moncton Coliseum.
The Canadian media hasn't given John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Jason Smith (Duluth), Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.) and John Benton (St. Michael, Minn.) much of a chance to succeed here but so far they're making a few teams take notice.
Today's match was a tale of two young skips, both playing at the worlds for the first time as the leader of their teams but the American captain proved veteran. Morozumi, 24, shot 60 percent, while his counterpart Shuster, 26, posted a sweltering 98 percent shooting percentage. As a team, the Americans shot 93 percent in the rout.
"If we keep playing the way we're capable of playing, we'll be in the mix for a playoff spot," said Shuster, who won bronze at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games and has played lead at three other world championships before taking the helm at skip.
With five games remaining in the round robin, the Americans are tied with Scotland for third place. The top four teams advance to Friday's page playoffs.
The Americans got off to a good start in today's game with a takeout for two points to begin today's competition.
"It was good to go out and win the hammer and then get a deuce right away," Shuster said. "That just helps build up the confidence."
A hit and roll into the four-foot by Smith allowed the Americans to take control of the four-foot in the second end. After Morozumi flashed a takeout attempt with his first throw, Shuster guarded the two American rocks. Morozumi was a bit heavy coming into the four-foot to give up a steal of one to the U.S.
Staring down three American stones, Morozumi made a takeout in the third end but his shooter rolled out, which handed the U.S. two more points for a 5-0 advantage. Japan finally got on the board in the fourth end but Morozumi was forced to draw into the four-foot for just a single point.
After the fifth end was blanked, the U.S. men needed only one more end to put another "w" in the win column as Shuster converted a takeout for four points.
"It was fun to go out and get back to playing the way we did earlier this year when we started this journey to get here," Shuster said.
The USA plays back-to-back games today, returning to the ice at 3 p.m. to play Denmark's Ulrik Schmidt team (2-3). The Danes are one of several teams still elbowing for a spot in the 2010 Olympic Winter Games. The Americans have already earned enough points to secure a berth and will be represented by Shuster's team in Vancouver. Denmark currently sits in 11th place in the 2010 Olympic Qualifying Points standings; 10 teams qualify for the Olympic Games.
Game scores: USA 9, Japan 1; Canada 8, Switzerland 3; Germany 7, France 5; China 9, Scotland 7
Team USA line score:
Japan 000 100 xxx x 1
USA* 212 004 xxx x 9
*last rock in first end
Czech Republic 1-4
Universal Sports will air 12 hours of TV coverage from Moncton, featuring the following games:
* April 11: USA vs. Germany, 7 p.m. ET (tape-delayed)
* April 11: USA vs. Canada, 11:30 p.m. ET (tape-delayed)
* April 12: Semifinal/bronze, 7 p.m. (tape-delayed)
* April 12: Final, 11:30 p.m. ET (tape-delayed)
* In addition, on-demand webstreaming of several of the U.S. games will be featured on www.universalsports.com.
* Live end-by-end scoring from the Ford World Men's Championship is available online at http://www.usacurl.org/curlingrocks. All times posted are local (1 hour ahead of Eastern Time Zone).