(FARGO, N.D.) - With three rounds in the books at Scheels Arena, two-time Olympian John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) has moved his team to the top of the men's standings after earning a 6-5 victory over Heath McCormick this afternoon at the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling.
"It's good just to get a two-game start because you win a couple early, you actually have that little bit of a pad, but you can't let up at all because any five of these teams can beat the other ... so we're just going to try to keep executing and keep the pressure on," said Shuster, who skipped Team USA at the 2010 Olympic Games and was lead for the Americans when they won bronze in 2006 in Torino.
The Shuster-McCormick game went into an extra end after McCormick couldn't convert his final draw for the necessary two points in the final end of regulation. The 11th was kept relatively open with Shuster and teammates Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.), Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) earning the win when Shuster made a hit-and-stick for a single point to push the team's record to 2-0.
"We watched those guys play yesterday and they were playing those chip shots off the top and when they're doing that it's kind of like maybe they're a bit tentative to get into it, especially with the ice being so new," Shuster said about the defensive style played for most of the game.
Tyler George's rink won its second straight to improve to 2-1, just behind Shuster's rink in the double round robin standings. George (Duluth, Minn.) and teammates Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Rich Ruohonen (Minneapolis, Minn.), and Colin Hufman (Seattle) defeated 2013 national champion Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.), 8-3.
"It was kind of similar to last night's game against Pete. There were a couple misses here and there and it was a matter of who was going to take advantage," George said. "I think the difference today was that besides we missed a few less, we read the ice better. We got a lot better feel, especially for the precise shots like the hits and rolls, freezes, taps and stuff like that."
Team George broke the game open in the seventh end as Plys drew the four-foot for three points with the final stone to push the score to 7-3. Plys finished the game with a perfect shooting percentage throwing last rocks.
"In a tournament like this it's not going to be about playing your A-game every single game. It's just finding a way to get W's up and, you know, you don't put win streaks together by shooting 95 percent every game, you do it by just finding a way to win," George said.
Team George (2-1) returns to the ice at 7 tonight in the battle of the Duluth skips as they take on Team Shuster (2-0).
The four women's teams take to the ice for the first time at 7 tonight as well. 2006 Olympian Cassie Potter (St. Paul, Minn.) will battle 2010 Olympian Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.) while 1998 Olympian Erika Brown (Oakville, Ontario) takes on 2006 Olympian Courtney George (St. Paul, Minn.) as the women's first round robin gets underway.
Tyler George 002 020 31x x - 8
*Brady Clark 010 101 00x x - 3
John Shuster 001 100 102 01 - 6
*Heath McCormick 010 002 010 10 - 5
*last rock in first end
John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) 2-0
Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.) 2-1
Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) 1-1
Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ont.) 1-1
Brady Clark (Seattle, Wash.) 0-3
USA Curling is webstreaming the round robin action live leading up to the playoffs at www.usacurl.org. NBC Sports Network is slated to air up to 15 hours of live playoff action from Trials.
The women's berth for the 2014 Olympic Winter Games has been secured, whereas the men's berth will need to be earned in December at the final Olympic Qualification Event, Dec. 10-15, in Füssen, Germany. The winner of the men's side of the Olympic Trials will represent the U.S. at the Olympic qualifier.
A complete game schedule, news access guidelines as well as the media accreditation form can be downloaded at www.usacurl.org (click on the Olympic Trials logo).
Winning teams will be nominated to the U.S. Olympic Team pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee.
Visit the USA Curling website at www.usacurl.org and connect with USA Curling on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Foursquare.
For more information: Terry Kolesar, USA Curling, firstname.lastname@example.org, 715-344-1199, Ext. 202, or 608-338-9900 (cell)