Fenson dominates in final to win Nationals gold

By Rick Patzke | March 08, 2014, 12 a.m. (ET)

Final results/standings


March 8, 2014

Fenson’s team dominates in final to win USA Curling Nationals

(PHILADELPHIA) – As sometimes happens, the biggest game of a tournament can also be the most anti-climactic. Such was the case in the men’s gold medal game of the 2014 USA Curling National Championships presented by Labatt at IceWorks Arena this afternoon.

Take nothing away from the championship-winning performance of Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.) and teammates Shawn Rojeski (Chisholm, Minn.), Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.), Ryan Brunt (Portage, Wis.), who jumped ahead early on the team of Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.), Kroy Nernberger (Madison, Wis.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) and Jon Brunt (Portage, Wis.) and, like a sumo wrestler, never let up on the way to a 9-3 victory in seven ends. 

Fenson’s team shot 96 percent overall, with vice skip Rojeski at 100 percent. That compares with a 73-percent team average for Brown’s team.

“Yesterday I told the guys that tomorrow we have the chance to play our greatest game of the week,” said Fenson, now an eight-time national champion (sixth as skip). “I knew they would play in front of me. “

Like Peyton Manning’s missed snap in the opening seconds, the tone of this game was set early, when Brown uncharacteristically missed a draw for one in the first end that resulted in a steal of two for Fenson’s team. This quickly eliminated the last-rock advantage Brown’s team had started the game with and also seemed to light a fire under Fenson’s foursome.

“I threw it exactly how I wanted and how the sweepers wanted,” Brown said of the shot. “I threw draws to the button in practice. I threw the split time needed, and it died.  It could have been on a little different track, or we misjudged the speed of the rock.”

“After the first end, Pete’s team had a sense of invincibility,” Brown added. “After that, they played pretty much perfectly.”

“It’s unlike Craig to miss,” Fenson said of the two-time national champion who finished atop the round robin this week. “It surprised us. But our job is to stay in the game and play our best throughout.”

Fenson’s team kept firing on all cylinders in the second, forcing Brown to draw for one against several counters once again, but this one he made to set the score at 2-1. The third featured plenty of rocks in the rings as both teams jockeyed for angles and positioning around the four-foot. Fenson’s team was counting one when the last rock came up, but they managed a double takeout to score three for 5-1 lead and significant breathing room.

“The guys set it up well,” Fenson said of the third end. “Craig’s rock stopped in just the wrong spot (for him). I knew I was throwing it pretty good, and told the guys we would get at least two.”

Brown’s team was forced into drawing for one again in the fourth, and Fenson’s domination of the game continued in the fifth end. They had a hit for three, but the shooter rolled out so they counted only two, but took a 7-2 lead into the midgame break. 

There were no breaks in store for the Brown team in the sixth, either. With opposing stones bracketing the button, Brown’s team needed to draw to the back stone for count. The shot rubbed the front one, however, and spun into third count, resulting in another steal of two and a 9-2 lead for the Fenson team.

Brown’s team did catch a break in the seventh when they had an open draw for two, but perhaps the sum of the game was evident in the last shot fired, as their draw for two stopped an inch short of the house. With that, Brown’s team conceded.

“We missed some shots we should have made,” said Brown. “They played well. Full credit to them.”

“I’m looking forward to learning Chinese,” Fenson quipped after the game, a nod to the fact that his team will now move on to represent USA in the 2014 World Curling Championships in Beijing, China, March 29-April 6.

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).