March 5, 2014

Pottinger earns first playoff berth at 2014 USA Curling National Championships

(PHILADELPHIA) – Allison Pottinger’s team is the first to secure a playoff berth in the 2014 USA Curling National Championships presented by Labatt, while four other women’s teams are fighting for the final three spots at IceWorks Arena.

In a battle between the two tournament leaders, Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.) and teammates Nicole Joraanstad (Verona, Wis.), Natalie Nicholson (Bemidji, Minn.), Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.) stole back-to-back singles to claim an extra end game, 9-8, over the Nina Spatola rink. Spatola (McFarland, Wis.) and her team of Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), Tara Peterson (Eagan, Minn.) and Sophie Brorson (Minneapolis, Minn.) found some early offense to steal its way to a 4-0 lead, but gave up three in the fourth. After reclaiming those three points in the fifth end, Spatola’s team again gave up three in the sixth, trimming their lead to 7-6.

"I had a rocky start," said Pottinger. "I came off the loss against Carlson last night and I was stewing about it. I missed a few shots early, but we met as a team to regroup, focus on one end at a time and one shot at a time."

The teams traded singles in the seventh and eighth ends to leave Spatola with an 8-7 advantage and the hammer playing the final end. Spatola went for the win by drawing to an opposing rock on the back of the button with her first stone in the 10th, but came up short and Pottinger guarded the eventual winning point with her last rock.

In the extra end, Pottinger’s team had shot rock covering the button and well-guarded by the time Spatola stepped up with her first shot. A failure to remove many of the guards left Spatola with a difficult in-off from about 13 feet out for the game’s final shot. She was close, but not close enough, and Pottinger’s team stole one for the 9-8 victory.

"I was feeling good about the game," said Spatola. "We had lots of opportunities to win but did not make the shots. I learned from this game to go with my gut weight-wise, to just throw it instead of overthinking it. We are all healthy now and ready to win our next three or four."

Spatola dropped into a three-way tie for second at 6-2 along with the Cassie Potter and Alex Carlson teams. The last team in contention is that led by Courtney George (St. Paul, Minn.), whose squad improved to 5-3 with a 10-5 win over the Abigayle Lindgren rink.

Pottinger’s team faces the George rink in the late draw tonight. "Our goal is to be first out of the round robin, to take advantage of the hammer and color selection," said Pottinger.

George and teammates Aileen Sormunen (Duluth, Minn.), Amanda McLean (St. Paul, Minn.) and  Monica Walker (Brighton, Mass.) used a steal of two in the fifth end to gain the upper hand against Lindgren (Grand Forks, N.D.) and Katie Sigurdson (Grand Forks, N.D.), Emily Lindgren (Grand Forks, N.D.), Kelsey Colwell (Fargo, N.D.) and alternate Madeline Shaft (Grand Forks, N.D.).

A steal of two in the eighth end proved to be the decisive points for Potter (St. Paul, Minn.) and company as they kept Caitlin Maroldo (Rochester, N.Y.), Rebecca Andrew (West Henrietta, N.Y.), Abigail Morrison (Falmouth, Mass.) and Emily Walker (Sudbury, Mass.) in check thereafter to post a 5-3 win. Potter’s team includes Haskell (Bemidji, Minn.), Jackie Lemke (Medford, Wis.) and Stephanie Sambor (White Bear Lake, Minn.).

The game between the Alex Carlson (Wayzata, Minn.) and Gabrielle Coleman (Mountain View, Calif.) teams also was close to the finish, with Carlson’s team taking a 7-5 lead into the 10th end. But Coleman’s team, with Maureen Stolt (Plymouth, Minn.), throwing last rocks, had a shot for the win in the 10th, needing to chip one red rock out. Stolt’s throw was slightly narrow, however, and despite desperate sweeping by Elle LeBeau (Lynnwood, Wash.) and Cynthia Eng-Dinsel (Kirkland, Wash.), the end result was a steal of one and 8-5 win for Carlson and teammates Jamie Sinclair (Manotick, Ontario), Emilia Juocys (Rochester, Mich.) and Sherri Schummer (St. Paul, Minn.).

Sarah Anderson was the latest competitor to get waylaid by the illness running through the Nationals field, but local club member Nancy Gerritsenvanderhoop answered the call for a last-minute substitute, and helped the team to a 9-1 victory over the A. Anderson team in six ends.

Gerritsenvanderhoop, who lives about 90 minutes from IceWorks Arena, said she got the call for help at about 10 o’clock this morning, had to leave work and have a friend open the curling club so she could get her gear. "I’ve never played on area ice before," said Gerritsenvanderhoop. "A friend told me to focus on my inner Glenn Howard in order to make sure I put enough of a turn on the stone."

Gerritsenvanderhoop said the Anderson team teased her that she didn’t say a word until the third or fourth end. She said she finally relaxed when the other team shook hands in conceding the game after six ends. "Those were the six best ends of my life," said Gerritsenvanderhoop. "I appreciate the Andersons for giving me this opportunity."

In men’s action in the 8 a.m. draw today, Craig Brown’s team retained a share of the round robin lead and at the same time knocked the Tyler George rink from the top. Brown (Madison, Wis.) and teammates Kroy Nernberger (Madison, Wis.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) and Jon Brunt (Portage, Wis.) made a light takeout to score three in the seventh end to break open a close game, and then kept out of trouble thereafter to win 6-2.

Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ontario) and his team of Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Rich Ruohonen (Minneapolis, Minn.) and Colin Hufman (Seattle) took down the Eric Fenson team 8-2 in six ends, stealing four points over the last two ends. The win put kept McCormick’s team in a tie for the top in the round robin at 5-2. Fenson and teammates Josh Bahr, Jon Chandler, Mark Haluptzok, and fifth Riley Fenson (all of Bemidji, Minn.), fell to 2-5.


The Pete Fenson team took a five-point lead into the ninth end and held on for an 8-5 win over Alex Leichter (Wayland, Mass.) and his squad of Brandon Corbett (Rochester, N.Y.), Derek Corbett (Rochester, N.Y.) and Jeff Pulli (Rochester, N.Y.). The victory kept Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.), Shawn Rojeski (Chisholm, Minn.), Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) and Ryan Brunt (Portage, Wis.) in the playoff chase at 4-3, while Leichter’s team dropped to 2-5.

John Shuster’s team also kept its playoff hopes alive, improving to 4-3 with a 7-4 win over Paul Pustovar (Hibbing, Minn.), and his team of Joey Bonfoey (Duluth, Minn.), Paul Lyttle (Bothell, Wash.), Harold Rutan (Olympia, Wash.) and alternate Ted Trolson (Superior, Wis.). Shuster (Duluth, Minn.), Jeff Isaacson (Gilbert, Minn.), Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.) and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) will return to the ice this afternoon against the Peter Stolt rink.

Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.), Sean Beighton (Seattle), Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Philip Tilker (Seattle) and alternate Richard Maskel (Green Bay, Wis.) posted an 8-4 win over the team of Peter Stolt (Plymouth, Minn.), Brad Caldwell (Andover, Minn.), Erik Ordway (Minneapolis, Minn.), Clayton Orvik (Minneapolis, Minn.) and alternate Stephen Dropkin (Southborough, Mass.) to retain a share of the round robin lead at 5-2.

After the conclusion of the round robin on Thursday morning, the top four teams will be ranked and advance to the Page playoffs. The women’s playoffs start at 8 p.m. Thursday with the men’s playoffs being staged at 12 p.m. Friday. The Page 1-2 game will advance the winner to Saturday’s final with the losing side playing the winner of the Page 3-4 match in the single semifinal on Friday.

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 In addition, live scores, stats and standings from USA Curling partner CurlingZone.


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

Game scores, 12 p.m. (women): S. Anderson 9, A. Anderson 1; Pottinger 9, Spatola 8 (11 ends); George 10, Lindgren 5; Potter 5, Maroldo 3; Carlson 8, Coleman 5.

Men’s Standings:

Craig Brown (Madison, Wis.)               5-2

Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.)             5-2

Heath McCormick (Sarnia, Ontario)         5-2

Pete Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.)              4-3

Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.)              4-3

John Shuster (Duluth, Minn.)              4-3

Peter Stolt (Plymouth, Minn.)             3-4

Eric Fenson (Bemidji, Minn.)              2-5

Alex Leichter (Wayland, Mass.)                  2-5

Paul Pustovar (Hibbing, Minn.)                  1-6


Women’s Standings:

Allison Pottinger (Eden Prairie, Minn.)         7-1

Alex Carlson (Wayzata, Minn.)             6-2

Cassie Potter (St. Paul, Minn.)                 6-2

Nina Spatola (McFarland, Wis.)                  6-2

Courtney George (St. Paul, Minn.)         5-3

Sarah Anderson (Broomall, Pa.)                  3-5

Gabrielle Coleman (Mountain View, Calif.) 3-5

Caitlin Maroldo (Rochester, N.Y.)         3-5

Abigayle Lindgren (Grand Forks, N.D.)           1-7

Amy Lou Anderson (Plymouth, Minn.)        0-8


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