USA men advance to playoffs at 2009 World Juniors

March 13, 2009, 10:43 a.m. (ET)
VANCOUVER, British Columbia (March 12, 2009) - Chris Plys and Team USA will have a chance to defend their title after clinching a playoff spot tonight at the 2009 World Junior Championships at the Vancouver Olympic Centre.

The Americans played their best game of the week, when it mattered the most as they defeated China's Jia Liang Zang rink, 10-5, while shooting 86 percent as a team. Plys (Duluth) and teammates Aanders Brorson (Duluth), Matt Perushek (Eveleth, Minn.) and Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) finished the round robin with a 6-3 record and will be the No. 4 playoff seed.

"It is good to have a win going into the semifinals. We just wanted to get where we could start new. It was our goal all year to get to the semifinals, and that is where we are. We are in the same situation we were in last year. Now we just have to take it one game at a time," said Plys, who has led his team to four straight U.S. junior titles and five overall in the past six seasons. His foursome playing in Vancouver this season won gold in Sweden last year.

Team USA will face Sweden's Kristian Lindstroem rink in the men's 3-4 page playoff game at noon PT Saturday. Canada (8-1) is the No. 1 seed while Denmark (7-2) locked up the No. 2 seed. Those teams will play in the 1-2 game with the winner advancing to Sunday's gold medal game. The losing team faces the winner of the 3-4 game between the USA and Sweden in a semifinal Saturday night. The Americans lost to Sweden, 6-5, in the round robin.

The U.S. scored in the first two ends and forced China to single in the third end. From there, they turned up the heat scoring a deuce in the fourth end and a three-ender in the sixth to build a commanding 7-2 lead. China would score three straight points but the defending champions put an exclamation point on the win with three points in the ninth end.

"We just have to build on what we did tonight," Plys said. "We had much better draw weight, and our vibe on the ice was much better. This morning we were moping around. Tonight, we had to play well, and we did."

The women's playoffs begin Friday night. The American women, led by Alexandra Carlson (Wayzata, Minn.), finished 4-5 and missed the playoffs.

Live scoring from the event can be found online at

Line score:
USA men* 110 203 003 x 10
China 001 010 210 x 5
*last stone in first end

Women's standings:
*Switzerland 7-2
*Scotland 7-2
*Canada 6-3
*Russia 6-3
USA 4-5
Sweden 4-5
France 3-6
Czech Rep. 3-6
Denmark 3-6
Japan 2-7

Men's standings:
*Canada 8-1
*Denmark 7-2
*Sweden 6-3
*USA 6-3
Switzerland 4-5
Norway 4-5
China 3-6
Russia 3-6
Scotland 3-6
Germany 1-8
*clinched playoff spot

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