Pottinger advances to Nationals final

March 06, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)
March 6, 2014

Pottinger advances to final at USA Curling Nationals

(PHILADELPHIA) – Two games that took shape as early blowouts turned into high entertainment as the first playoff games got underway at the 2014 USA Curling Nationals presented by Labatt

When the cheering stopped at IceWorks Arena, Allison Pottinger’s team had turned back a stealthy rally by the Cassie Potter team to advance to Saturday’s gold medal game. And nearby, Nina Spatola’s rink advanced from the Page 3 vs. 4 game to reach Friday’s semifinals, repelling a spirited comeback by the Courtney George foursome.

Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and teammates Nicole Joraanstad (Verona, Wis.), Natalie Nicholson (Bemidji, Minn.) and Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.) scored one with a last-rock hit and stay to post an 8-6 win over Potter’s team, which will regroup to meet Spatola in the semifinal at 4 p.m. Friday.

Nina Spatola (McFarland, Wis.) and her team of Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), Tara Peterson (Eagan, Minn.) and Sophie Brorson (Minneapolis, Minn.) walked off with a 10-4 win over the George rink, but the score wasn’t indicative of the late theatrics.

“We had good rock placement in this game,” said Spatola. “Everyone is healthy and we are refocused to get back on the roll (referring to a 5-0 start to the week). This game was what we needed to get that focus back.”

After blanking the first two ends to control the hammer, Spatola’s side scored two in the third and then stole a point in the fourth to get an early lead. George’s team, with Sormunen at skip, gained a point back in the fifth to go into the break trailing 3-1, but then gave up a deuce in the sixth end and a devastating steal of three in the seventh to fall into an 8-1 hole. The tide then tilted slightly in the George team’s favor in the eighth, with Sormunen making an open hit for three to make the score 8-4.

The ninth end became a cluster bar from the get-go, with George’s team getting three center guards lined up that remained in place for the duration. It looked like George was getting set up to steal two, but after a few shots juggled the pile, Spatola’s team found itself counting two, and spent their last few guarding the pile. Sormunen was left to attempt two difficult but crowd-pleasing, long, in-off takeouts. Both missed their marks, however, and the George team conceded soon after.

In the Page 1 vs. 2 game, Pottinger’s team came out firing in the first end, scoring three and just missing a chance for four when their last-rock draw slid a little too deep. Potter faced more pressure in the second, but drew for one to get out of the end. Pottinger recouped that single in the third and then stole singles over each of the next two ends for a 6-1 lead at the midway point. 

Potter scored to make it 6-2 after six, and then controlled the house in the seventh to leave Pottinger looking at three counters by the time she delivered the hammer. Pottinger elected to play a hit and stick vs. the draw, and made it to score one for a 7-2 advantage. 

Potter’s team had a deuce set up early in the eighth and saw it through, making an open draw to the eight-foot to pull within 7-4.

Pottinger and company faced more pressure in the ninth, needing to draw the four-foot against two counters. But the hammer shot ran a little deep and led to a steal of two for Potter and a 7-6 score.

In the 10th, Lemke made a perfect draw to the top of the button around two center guards as her team worked to set up another steal. But Nicholson countered with a double peel, and followed that up with a double takeout on her next shot to remove all opposing rocks from play.

Potter patiently went back to work with another center guard just above an opposing rock in the 12-foot, only to have Joraanstad make a double takeout to clear everything from the front once again. With her last rock, Potter froze to an opposing stone in the back of the 12-foot to get first count. With the game’s final shot, Pottinger elected to hit rather than draw, and needed heroic sweeping from Nicholson and Peterson to keep the shooter from over-curling and rolling out.

The women’s semifinal is set for 4 p.m. Friday followed by the men’s semifinal game at 8 p.m. Both gold-medal games will be contested on Saturday with the ladies taking the ice at 10 a.m., followed by the men at 3 p.m.

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. 

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).