USA takes down China to keep playoff hopes alive in Vegas

By Terry L. Davis | April 06, 2018, 7:07 p.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 6, 2018

 

USA pushes win streak to four at 361° World Men’s Championship

 

(LAS VEGAS) – Greg Persinger and the American men won’t back down in their pursuit to reach the playoffs of the 361° World Men’s Curling Championship.

 

Two days ago, Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska) and teammates Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), Colin Hufman (St. Paul, Minn.), and Phil Tilker (Seattle) were 1-6 and sitting at the bottom of the 12-game round robin at the Orleans Arena. Since that low point the U.S. men have rattled off four straight wins and will need one more tonight for a shot at the playoffs after defeating China this morning.

 

“We had a bunch of heartbreakers early but never gave up,” said Persinger, who shot 90 percent throwing last stones for the U.S. “We just kept on playing like we had been for most of the week really. We picked up some wins and now it looks like we might have a chance at the playoffs. We’ll see what happens.”

 

The 7-4 victory over Deija Zou’s rink was the most commanding win the U.S. has had this week.

 

“We played pretty well, except we got into a little trouble in the first and got one fortunate break and then pretty much controlled the whole game. It was pretty well played after that,” said Ruohonen, who calls the game for the U.S. but throws vice skip stones.

 

Scotland (10-1) and Sweden (10-1) both won this morning to lock in the automatic spots in the semifinals. Scotland defeated Switzerland, 8-6, when the final stone by the Swiss was an inch heavy as they were trying to force an extra end. Sweden drew into the four-foot to defeat Canada on the final stone by a 6-5 score.

 

Canada (8-3) and Norway (7-4) also are qualified for the playoffs and two more spots will be awarded by the end of the round robin tonight. Switzerland (6-5), Korea (5-5), Russia (5-5), and the U.S. (5-6) remain in the playoff hunt. The Americans will take on Switzerland tonight at 6:30 p.m. PDT. The game will be featured live on the Olympic Channel.

 

“We’ve got a good feel for the ice and everybody is making their shots for the most part. Phil is out there making tick shots and that’s huge for us when we have a lead like that. All in all, our confidence is really high,” said Persinger, who shot 90 percent throwing last stones for the U.S.

 

The U.S. needs to beat Switzerland tonight and hope the chips fall the way they need them to in order to secure one of the final two playoff spots. A win over the U.S. would put Switzerland into the playoffs. No tiebreaker games are played at the World Championships in the new playoff format so the U.S. could get eliminated based on head-to-head if they end up in a three-way tie for the last spot with Korea and Russia, who will battle tonight as well. The results of this afternoon’s draw will help tell the story further when the final session gets underway tonight.

 

“We have one left – I don’t think we’re mathematically eliminated yet so if we win that one we have a chance,” said Ruohonen, who also played for the U.S. at the 2008 World Men’s Championship.

China started the game with the hammer, but it was the U.S. that scored first as they stole a point when China’s draw attempt with the last stone rubbed on a guard and didn’t get into scoring position. In the second end, a great draw with Ruohonen’s first vice skip stone, coupled with a missed takeout from China, allowed the U.S. to have three stones in the rings. China would roll too far on its final takeout attempt as the Americans stole another point. In the third end, China was forced to draw to the button to save the end and take a point.

 

The turning point in the game came in the fourth end when China missed a takeout to allow the U.S. to draw in for three points and stretch the lead to 5-1. The U.S. would hold the Chinese men to a single in the sixth end to maintain a solid lead in the second half.

 

Team USA was forced to draw for a single in the eighth end but they extended the lead to a comfortable four points. A nice double peel by Hufman cleaned things up in the 10th and Persinger sewed up the USA’s fifth win with a takeout to score one.

 

“Pretty well-played game the whole time. In the first end, we were in a little bit of trouble and kind of got lucky by them wrecking on a guard. We played pretty solid the rest of the game,” said Persinger, who also competed in the 2013 World Men’s Championship.

 

The Americans are hoping to make their third straight playoff appearance after finishing fourth last year in Edmonton and winning the bronze medal in 2016.

 

Line score:

USA       110 300 010 1 – 7

*China  001 001 002 0 – 4

*last stone in first end (hammer)

 

Other draw results: Italy 11, Germany 4; Sweden 6, Canada 5; Scotland 8, Switzerland 6

 

Standings:

Scotland             10-1 QSF

Sweden              10-1 QSF

Canada               8-3 Q

Norway               7-4 Q

Switzerland        6-5

Korea                  5-5

Russia                 5-5

USA                     5-6

Italy                     4-7

Netherlands      3-7

China                  3-8

Japan                  3-8

Germany            1-10

Q=Qualified to playoffs

QF=Qualified to semifinals

 

Here is a look at Team USA’s round robin & TV schedule (all times local, PDT):

Friday, April 6:

6:30 p.m., USA vs. Switzerland (Marc Pfister) – Live on the Olympic Channel

 

Playoff schedule:

Saturday, April 7:

8:30 a.m., Qualification games (#3 vs. #6; #4 vs. #5) – Live on the Olympic Channel app

1:30 p.m., Semifinal #1 – Live on the Olympic Channel

5 p.m., Autograph session with 2018 Olympic Gold Medalists (John Shuster, Tyler George, Matt Hamilton, John Landsteiner, Joe Polo, Coach Phill Drobnick)

6:25 p.m., World Curling Hall of Fame induction, USA’s Elmer Freytag

6:30 p.m., Semifinal #2 – Live on the Olympic Channel

 

Sunday, April 8:

12 p.m., Bronze-medal game – Live on the Olympic Channel

5 p.m., Gold-medal game – Live on NBCSN

 

USA round robin results:

USA 6, Japan 5

Netherlands 6, USA 4

Korea 7, USA 5

Norway 7, USA 5

Scotland 7, USA 6

Sweden 7, USA 2

Russia 7, USA 6

USA 8, Germany 5

USA 5, Italy 3

USA 6, Canada 5

USA 7, China 4

 

USA Curling is sponsored by AtomOS, Nike, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, Cheetos, CryoMAX 8-Hour Cold Pack, Sitrin, The RAM Restaurant & Brewery, Thorne, BalancePlus, ISS Ice, Sports & Solar, IHG, and Brakebush, and is partnered with Laurie Artiss Ltd. – The Pin People, United Airlines, 12th End Sports Network, IHG, and CurlingZone.

 

(30)

 

For more information: Terry Davis, Director of Communications, terry.davis@usacurl.org, 608-338-9900 (mobile).