Spatola rink advances to gold medal game

By Rick Patzke | March 07, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)
March 7, 2014

Spatola rink advances to final at USA Curling Nationals

(PHILADELPHIA) – Nina Spatola’s team will face the veteran Allison Pottinger rink in the gold medal game at the USA Curling National Championships presented by Labatt after emerging from the semifinals at IceWorks Arena this evening with a 9-4 victory over the Cassie Potter rink.

“My team played a great game. We are on a roll, and are super focused,” said Spatola (McFarland, Wis.), who will be skipping a team in the final for her first time. She won the gold playing vice skip for Erika Brown in 2010.

Spatola’s teammates – Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), Tara Peterson (Eagan, Minn.) and Sophie Brorson (Minneapolis, Minn.)—are all playing in their first final as well, but they showed plenty of poise in the semifinal today. “Our communication is really good,” noted Spatola. “It is something we have been focusing on all week.”

Potter (St. Paul, Minn.) and teammates Jamie Haskell (Bemidji, Minn.), Jackie Lemke (Medford, Wis.) and Stephanie Sambor (White Bear Lake, Minn.) opened the game with the hammer, but saw that advantage slip away in the first end as their last-rock draw for one slid through the house, giving Spatola’s team a steal of two. 

Trying to blank the second to retain last-rock advantage, Potter instead stuck around and scored one. Spatola (McFarland, Wis.) and her team of suffered the same fate in the third, but led 3-1.

In the fourth end, Potter’s team was forced to hit for one, making it a 3-2 game. Spatola had a tough draw for two in the fifth, needing to get to the button, but her shot wrecked on a guard and the team counted just one for a 4-2 advantage going into the midgame break.

Spatola’s team applied pressure again in the sixth, forcing Potter to draw the four-foot against three counters to narrow the score to 4-3. “We had control most of the ends,” noted Spatola.

In the seventh, the Spatola team gained a little breathing room when Potter just missed a short raise to get first count, leaving the opposition already counting two with the hammer yet to come. Spatola’s shot for three didn’t quite curl enough, however, and the team settled for two and a 6-3 lead.

Spatola’s team missed a chance to firmly close a door in the eighth when they were light with their skip’s first rock draw to get count. Potter put drew her first shot around  a couple stones in the top of the 12-foot but didn’t quite get far enough to out-count an opposing stone in the back of the four-foot. Spatola threw a guard with her last stone, leaving Potter to mull over whether to try a risky runback to score two, or play a draw to the four-foot for one. After taking a timeout to confer with Coach Sandra McMakin,  Potter’s team attempted an angle raise takeout for two. 

“The call was a board weight promotion takeout, but it did not curl,” said Potter (St. Paul, Minn.). “Plan B was a split on the red rock, and Plan C was an angle raise, which is what happened.”

As Potter described, the shot didn’t curl enough to promote the raised rock with enough weight to make the takeout, but chipped the stone in for first count to make it a 6-4 game.

The Spatola team executed well in the ninth to put the game away, though, converting an open hit for three with the hammer to go up 9-4, after which Potter’s team conceded.

“This season had been one of learning for our team, changing strategy and changing styles,” said Potter, noting that this has included studying the playing styles and strategies of teams from Canada and Europe. “Instead of playing the safe shot, we have to assume these teams will make their shots so we need to focus on our stone placement and make the Plan A shot.”

The last game of the day at IceWorks will feature the Heath McCormick and Pete Fenson teams in the men’s semifinal, at 8 p.m. 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 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 

Media credentials can be picked up at the main entrance at IceWorks. If you have not requested a credential yet, go to 

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. 

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