Pottinger clinches playoff spot

By Terry Kolesar | Nov. 13, 2013, 12 a.m. (ET)
(FARGO, N.D.) - The Allison Pottinger rink has secured the first of two available women's playoff spots at the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team Trials after earning their fourth win tonight at Scheels Arena. 

With just one game left, Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and teammates Nicole Joraanstad (Verona, Wis.), Natalie Nicholson (Bemidji, Minn.), and Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.) have a 4-1 record after defeating Courtney George tonight, which places them in Friday's playoffs. "We definitely knew today we had to come out with two W's so it was an important one to us," Pottinger said. 

In the men's division, Pete Fenson's rink improved to 5-2 with a 7-4 victory over Brady Clark's Washington rink to secure at least a tiebreaker game.

"The guys are getting comfortable. Shawn's throwing darts. We're getting dialed in with the ice and that's always important. Once we do that we get comfortable, start making some shots and play the game we know we can play," said Fenson, who was a member of the 2006 Olympic team that won bronze in Italy. "We're happy with where we're at."

The win tonight coupled with a loss by Team Shuster to Heath McCormick's rink puts Team Fenson in a half game lead in the standings. The top two teams advance to this weekend's playoffs.

Team Pottinger (4-1) sits alone at the top of the women's standings after Team Erika Brown (3-2) lost to Cassie Potter's rink (1-4), 8-6. "The women have a much shorter round robin than the men. I mean it's only a one team difference, but it makes a really big difference when it comes to wins and losses. It's hard to afford two losses in this kind of week," Pottinger said.

The Pottinger rink fell behind 5-4 when George (St. Paul, Minn.) and teammates Aileen Sormunen (Duluth, Minn.), Amanda McLean (St. Paul, Minn.), and Monica Walker (Brighton, Mass.) scored three points in the fourth end. After the fifth end was blanked, the Pottinger rink was forced to one but stole back one more point to regain the lead, 6-5. After forcing George to a single in the eighth, Pottinger secured the win in the 10th by scoring a point.

"The biggest thing for us in the 10th was a path to the four-foot," Pottinger said. "So, we knew we were going to play a tick with Tabitha and then it was a decision of where that next center guard would end up and if we would do it again or not."

In the Fenson-Clark match, both teams turned in high-percentage shooting (95 for Fenson and 92 for Clark), but it was Fenson's team that came away with the win 7-4 win. 

The McCormick rink (2-4) secured its second win of the tournament with the last-rock victory over Shuster, 8-7. The game was back and forth with the McCormick rink taking control in the eighth end when they scored three points. 

The playoffs get underway at 2:30 p.m. Friday with the first game for men's and women's finalists. 
The second playoff game for the men will take place at 2:30 p.m. Saturday followed by the second women's game at 7 p.m. If needed, the final men's game will be played at 11 a.m. Sunday with the women's competition potentially concluding at 2 p.m.

Game scores:
*Heath McCormick 012 010 030 1 - 8 
John Shuster 100 202 002 0 - 7 

*Allison Pottinger 202 001 100 1 - 7 
Courtney George 020 300 010 0 - 6 

Cassie Potter 000 123 000 2 - 8 
*Erika Brown 211 000 011 0 - 6 

Brady Clark 000 101 011 0 - 4 
*Pete Fenson 020 020 100 2 - 7 
*last rock in first end

Standings-Women:
*Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 4-1
Erika Brown (Oakville, Ont.) 3-2
Courtney George (St. Paul, Minn.) 2-3
Cassie Potter (St. Paul, Minn.) 1-4
*clinched a playoff spot

Standings-Men: 
Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) 5-2
John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) 4-2
Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.) 4-2
Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ont.) 2-4
Brady Clark (Seattle, Wash.) 1-6

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.

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

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