GANGNEUNG, South Korea – Kirk Black and Team USA finally saw their familiar selves out on the ice as the Americans dominated Sweden tonight to get into the win column at the Paralympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018.
Black (San Antonio, Texas) and teammates Steve Emt (Hebron, Conn.), Justin Marshall (Evansville, Wis.), and Penny Greely (Green Bay, Wis.) got off to a great start and never let up in an 10-2 win over Sweden’s Vilijo Pettersson Dahl rink at the Gangneung Curling Centre.
“We were actually having more fun out there,” Marshall said. “We switched things up a bit. Emt usually sits down in the house with Kirk but we decided to bring him down to our end as a little more motivation and so we could communicate a little bit better. He was reading the times off to us, which made it easier to communicate. We were just gelling better on the ice.”
Team USA scored in the first four ends en route to securing the team’s first win of the 11-game round robin after an 0-2 start.
“We just finally got on our game a little bit better than what we had. Learned the ice a little bit faster than we normally have been doing, so it feels good to finally get the first ‘W’ and get this thing rolling,” Black said. “We’re a pretty loose group, we like to joke around and have fun, and these first couple of games, it’s a little frustrating when you don’t come away with it. But, we’re a close-knit team and we still have our fun, so we came out there and just do what we do.”
The U.S. team had a draw for three points lined up in the opening end but were a little light and settled for two, which was a productive start to the game nonetheless. The U.S. would stretch the lead to 4-0 after a missed takeout by Sweden with the final stone of the second end.
A nice runback from Marshall early in the third end removed the Swedish shot rock and moved their opponent’s guard to the back of the rings to put the Americans in control. A few missed takeouts from the Swedes and the U.S. had its shot rock protected – eventually leading to a single steal for Team USA. A missed takeout by the U.S. allowed Sweden to set up the deuce in the fourth end but Pettersson Dahl missed the final takeout and the Americans took another point.
The Swedish skip sat the second half out with Kicki Ulander throwing last stones the rest of the way. The Swedes were able to counter in the fifth end as they took advantage of missed takeouts from the American team to draw in for two points. Team USA answered with a draw for two points in the sixth end to take the lead back to six points. The U.S. only missed a peel in the seventh end and stole two more points to sew up their first victory.
“We hit our draw weight better. We were hitting takeouts and sticking around the house. Everything just kind of fell our way,” Marshall said.
The U.S. will return to the ice at 2:35 p.m. Monday to take on Finland (3-0) and then in the night session the Americans will face the Neutral Paralympic Athletes (1-2).
*USA 221 102 2x – 10
Sweden 000 020 0x – 2
*last rock in first end
Other session scores: Great Britain 9, Finland 2; China 7, Germany 3; Switzerland 6, Slovakia 5
Round robin standings:
Great Britain 2-1
*Neutral Paralympic Athletes
TV and webstreaming:
All games are streaming live at www.nbcsports.com and on the NBC Sports app with TV coverage on the Olympic Channel and NBCSN. A complete schedule is posted at https://www.teamusa.org/US-Paralympics/Features/2018/February/27/NBC-Announces-Commentators-For-2018-Paralympic-Winter-Games.
Round robin schedule (all times local KST):
Monday, March 12:
2:35 p.m., USA vs. Finland
7:35 p.m., USA vs. Neutral Paralympic Athletes
Tuesday, March 13:
2:35 p.m., USA vs. China
7:35 p.m., USA vs. Canada
Wednesday, March 14:
9:35 a.m., USA vs. Switzerland
2:35 p.m., USA vs. Great Britain
Thursday, March 15:
9:35 a.m., USA vs. Norway
7:35 p.m., USA vs. Slovakia
Friday, March 16:
9:35 a.m., tiebreaker games, if needed
3:35 p.m., semifinals
Saturday, March 17:
9:35 a.m., bronze-medal game
2:35 p.m., gold-medal game
USA round robin results:
Korea 7, USA 3
Germany 6, USA 4