2014 Nationals underway in Philadelphia

By Terry Kolesar | March 01, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)
March 1, 2014

2014 USA Curling National Championships underway in Philadelphia

(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) - The first two draws of action at the 2014 USA Curling National Championships presented by Labatt are officially in the books. 

Two-time Olympian Ann Swisshelm (Chicago) threw the opening stone to kick off the event along with fellow 2014 Olympians John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.), Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.), Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.).

In the women's competition earlier tonight at IceWorks Skating Complex, two-time U.S. junior champion Alex Carlson led her team to an 8-6 victory over Amy Lou Anderson's squad after controlling much of the game. Carlson (Wayzata, Minn.), Jamie Sinclair (Manotick, Ontario), Emilia Juocys (Rochester, Mich.), and Sherri Schummer (St. Paul, Minn.) shot 75 percent as a team in earning the win.

"This was our first time together after Grafton (Challenge Round), and we felt really comfortable. In our pre-game meeting we talked a lot about communication - weight calls for hits, weight calls for zones where everything is going to end up," said Juocys, 36. "Everyone just felt really comfortable and very trusting. We're just really excited to be here and win." 

The women return to the ice Sunday with two draws - 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. "We'll debrief, stay positive, stay hydrated and just have some fun and smile. We know tomorrow's another day and another challenge," Juocys said. 

The Nina Spatola rink was the first team off the ice after defeating Gabrielle Coleman's team, 12-2. Ten-time national champion Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.) stole the final two ends to defeat 18-year-old Sarah Anderson (Broomall, Pa.), 6-4. Anderson missed a takeout on a stone buried in the four-foot to send the game to an extra end. An early miss in the overtime created a difficult final shot for Anderson who could not convert an in-off to score a point for the win. 

2011 national champion Caitlin Maroldo (Rochester, N.Y.) also survived an extra end as she led her rink to a 10-8 victory over Abigayle Lindgren's North Dakota team. Maroldo (Rochester, N.Y.) and teammates Rebecca Andrew (West Henrietta, N.Y.), Abigail Morrison (Falmouth, Mass.), and Emily Walker (Sudbury, Mass.) fell behind early but battled back and made a key steal in the ninth end.

Cassie Potter's team scored three points to take a 3-1 lead over Courtney George (St. Paul, Minn.) in the second end and never looked back as they went on to earn an 8-6 victory.

In the men's evening draw, Pete Fenson's team controlled its match against Craig Brown to earn an opening-night win. Fenson's team capitalized on a Brown miss in the sixth end to draw through a port and score two points and take a 3-1 lead. After holding Brown's team to a single in the seventh, Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) and teammates Shawn Rojeski (Chisholm, Minn.), Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.), and Ryan Brunt (Portage, Wis.) capitalized on a few misses by Team Brown in the eighth end that led to an eventual draw for four points to seal the win.

"We as a team drew really well tonight and had good rock position with lots of rocks above the tee-line. We made a few good freezes on our own rocks. So we had them chasing us quite a bit," said Fenson, who has won the Nationals seven times. "They were able to get out of trouble a couple of times. I missed my last shot in the second end to lay four or he has a tough time scoring. But, we were able to keep the pressure on and keep making draws the whole game. We got some misses out of them and converted. It's always good to start with a win and that was a big one to start win against them."

The 2014 U.S. Olympic Team led by John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) picked up a 10-8 win over the reigning national champions skipped by Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.) in a game featuring four ends in which three points were scored. Shuster and teammates Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.), Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) took a quick lead and had an 8-2 advantage halfway through the game. Clark's team then ramped up the offense and scored three points twice to keep the game close. Shuster sealed the win with a single in the 10th. 

Peter Stolt's rink stole the 10th end and the win when Tyler George's final stone slipped too deep into the rings. Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ontario) continued his winning ways in Philadelphia after going 11-0 two years ago here to win the national title. McCormick and teammates Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Rich Ruohonen (Minneapolis, Minn.), and Colin Hufman (Seattle) defeated multiple national champion and USA Curling Hall of Famer Paul Pustovar (Hibbing, Minn.), 8-5.

Alex Leichter (Southborough, Mass.) made an open hit to lead his team to a 6-4 win over Eric Fenson's Minnesota rink.

The round robin continues on Sunday with four draws of competition at 8 a.m., 12 p.m., 4 p.m., and 8 p.m. (all times ET). The live webstream is available throughout the championship courtesy of USA Curling's partnership with the 12th End Sports Network. All the action from Sheet C/3 is being streamed live. A complete game schedule is available at www.usacurl.org. In addition, live scores, stats and standings from USA Curling partner CurlingZone. 

Game scores, 4:30 p.m. (women): Spatola 12, Coleman 2; Potter 8, George 6; Maroldo 10, Lindgren 8 (extra end); Carlson 8, A. Anderson 6; Pottinger 6, S. Anderson (extra end)

Game scores, 8:30 p.m. (men): P. Fenson 7, Brown 2; Shuster 10, Clark 8; McCormick 8, Pustovar 5; Stolt 8, George 6; Leichter 6, E. Fenson 4

Women's Standings:
Alex Carlson (Wayzata, Minn.) 1-0
Caitlin Maroldo (Rochester, N.Y.) 1-0
Cassie Potter (St. Paul, Minn.) 1-0
Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.) 1-0
Nina Spatola (McFarland, Wis.) 1-0
Amy Lou Anderson (Plymouth, Minn.) 0-1
Sarah Anderson (Broomall, Pa.) 0-1
Gabrielle Coleman (Mountain View, Calif.) 0-1
Courtney George (St. Paul, Minn.) 0-1
Abigayle Lindgren (Grand Forks, N.D.) 0-1

Men's Standings:
Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) 1-0
Alex Leichter (Wayland, Mass.) 1-0
Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ontario) 1-0
John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) 1-0
Peter Stolt (Plymouth, Minn.) 1-0
Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.) 0-1
Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.) 0-1
Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.) 0-1
Eric Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) 0-1
Paul Pustovar (Hibbing, Minn.) 0-1

The official Twitter hashtags for the event will be #2014Nats or #curling. USA Curling will post updates and photos to its Facebook page as well at https://www.facebook.com/pages/USA-Curling/107975609011. 

Media credentials can be picked up at the main entrance at IceWorks. If you have not requested a credential yet, go to http://2014usacurlingnationals.com/media-accreditation-request-2014/. 

USA Curling is sponsored by AtomAmpd, Nike, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, Sitrin, and The RAM Restaurant & Brewery and is partnered with Hilton, United Airlines, Ludus Tours, CurlingZone, and RJM Licensing, Inc. 

Follow us on Facebook (search for USA Curling) and Twitter (@terry_usacurl). Be sure to visit the new USA Curling website at www.usacurl.org. 


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