USA men pick up third win as round robin continues in Germany

By Terry Kolesar | Dec. 12, 2013, 12 a.m. (ET)
Dec. 12, 2013

USA earns third win at Olympic Qualification Event 

(FUESSEN, Germany) - USA's Olympic dreams are still alive as John Shuster led the Americans to an 8-2 win tonight over Japan to improve to 3-2 at the Olympic Qualification Event at the BLZ Arena.

The victory over Japan's Yusuke Morozumi rink coupled with wins by the Czech Republic (3-2) and Germany (3-2) tonight places Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.), Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) back in a three-way tie for second place behind Korea (4-1) with two games left in the round robin. The U.S. will play Korea and Finland (2-3) on Thursday. After that, the top three teams will advance to Saturday's playoffs to fight for the final two tickets to the Olympic Winter Games. 

"I think we've finally started tightening it up out there and get a lot more full shots and a lot less of the half-shots and misses," said Shuster, who has represented the U.S. at the past two Olympic Games. "I was really proud of the guys."

Japan got on the scoreboard first with a steal in the opening end when they got a stone buried in the four-foot that the Americans failed to remove. In the second end, the U.S. had three stones in scoring position. Morozumi used his final stone to draw around the Japan rock in the top of the house into the top of the four-foot to cut down the scoring. Team USA was able to fully draw into the four-foot to score two and take a 2-1 lead. 

In the third end, Japan finally removed the U.S. shot stone buried in the four-foot as Morozumi's first rock slid through a narrow port to chip it out, leaving two Japan rocks in scoring position. Shuster, however, drew down into the four-foot and left his stone frozen to one of Japan's, and Morozumi couldn't convert with his next toss as it rubbed on a guard en route.

The U.S. kept the pressure on Japan in the next end and Morozumi was forced to draw for a single point to close the gap to 3-2. Team USA extended its lead to three points as the Americans got a deuce set up in the fifth end. 

After the sixth end was blanked, Japan was looking at three U.S. stones when Morozumi went to throw his final rock. Japan tried a double takeout on the two U.S. rocks in the four-foot but left one in scoring position and the American men swiped a point to go ahead 6-2. In the eighth end, after Shuster played a perfect freeze to a Japan stone in the back corner of the house to have two in scoring contention, Morozumi's delivery was too firm and it sailed through the house. Shuster then played a center guard to cover the U.S. stone in the top of the four-foot, forcing Japan to draw for a single. However, Morozumi was heavy again and the U.S. stole one more point. 

The woes continued for Japan into the eighth end and when Morozumi was once again heavy with his final stone and two more points were scored in favor of the U.S., the Japanese conceded.

"We executed a bunch of times around guards. Just every single shot, every single end we were all over them [Japan]," Shuster said. 

The playoffs get underway at 8 p.m. (local time) on Saturday with the top two ranked teams playing. The winner advances to the Olympic Games while the losing side will play the third-ranked playoff team on Sunday at 12:30 p.m. The winner of that second playoff earns the final men's Olympic berth. 

Follow all the action at NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) will produce a three-hour show from the event, which will air at 9 p.m. ET on Thursday, Dec. 19.

Game score:
Japan 100 100 00x x - 2 
*USA 021 020 12x x - 8 
*last rock in first end

Other game scores: Czech Republic 10, Korea 4; Germany 6, New Zealand 5; Finland 6, France 5

Men's standings:
Korea 4-1
Czech Republic 3-2
Germany 3-2
USA 3-2
France 2-3
New Zealand 2-3
Finland 2-3
Japan 1-4

Women's standings:
China 3-0
Japan 3-0
Germany 2-1
Czech Republic 2-2
Latvia 1-3
Norway 1-3
Italy 0-3

Team USA game schedule:
Friday, Dec. 13, 12 p.m. local/6 a.m. ET: USA v. Korea
Friday, Dec. 13, 8 p.m. local/2 p.m. ET: USA v. Finland
Saturday, Dec. 14, Men's 1 v. 2 playoff, 8 p.m. local/2 p.m. ET
Sunday, Dec. 15, Men's second playoff, 12:30 p.m. local/6:30 a.m. ET

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For more information: Terry Kolesar, USA Curling,, 715-344-1199, Ext. 202, or 608-338-9900 (cell).