USA upsets Canada to stay in playoff conversation in Las Vegas

By Terry L. Davis | April 06, 2018, 5:03 a.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 5, 2018

 

USA takes down Canada to stay in playoff conversation at 361° World Men’s Championship

 

(LAS VEGAS) – Left on the ventilator two days ago after heart-breaking losses, Greg Persinger and Team USA are back in the playoff conversation with the final day of the round robin approaching tomorrow at the 361° World Men’s Curling Championship.

 

Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska) and teammates Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), Colin Hufman (St. Paul, Minn.), and Phil Tilker (Seattle) won their third straight game tonight with a 6-5 upset win over Canada’s Brad Gushue rink at Orleans Arena.

 

“We’re still alive after we came in with a 3-6 record against an 8-1 team,” Tilker said. “We know we can play, we just didn’t get the wins early in the week. Losing that game would have almost certainly have eliminated us. We have two tough games tomorrow, but I’m pretty stoked right now.”

 

The win improves the U.S. record to 4-6 with two games left on the schedule against China (3-7) and Switzerland (6-4).

 

“We just have to keep playing like we’re playing. We haven’t played bad all week except maybe one game and even then we were in it until Edin [of Sweden] made a huge shot,” said Ruohonen, who calls the game but throws vice stones. “We just have to keep playing consistent and make the shots we need to make – the easy ones, not missing any of those. Every now and then we need a couple of big shots. We’re still in contention and could easily have a few more wins and be right up there at the top. This is a huge win. This kept us in contention and we’re pumped!”

 

The U.S. men came into tonight’s game on the brink of elimination from reaching the top six to qualify for the playoffs.

 

“It was an awesome win. We just played real steady. We got a break – Brad doesn’t usually miss a draw in eighth like he did – but we gave him a draw back in the ninth and gave them the deuce. It would have been really tough for him to get two.”

 

With the final stone of the game, Persinger erased earlier last-stone miscues to hand the U.S. a huge win when it greatly needed it.

 

“Colin and I said we’re gonna make this last shot for Greg,” Tilker said. “Greg has to be feeling good. He’s a world class fourth stone thrower.”

 

It was the third time in men’s international play this season that the U.S. defeated Canada after two wins at the Olympic Winter Games.

 

After holding the U.S. to a single in the opening end, Canada was able to make an open hit for two points in the second to take the lead.

 

An aggressive third end resulted in a race to draw into the four-foot behind multiple guards. In the end, both sides had impressive shots, but the U.S. had to chip out a partially buried Canadian rock to score just one point. Canada had a chance at three points in the fourth end, but the runback didn’t pan out as the Americans stole a point instead. Solid play by the Americans once again in the fifth end forced Canada to draw the full four-foot for one point.

 

Two small mistakes by Canada early in the seventh end coupled with a roll out by Gushue on his hit gave the U.S. an open draw for two. Canada had a deuce set up early in the eighth end but a light draw with Gushue’s first skip stone allowed the U.S. to go after the stone in the rings to force the blank end.

 

The U.S. had control of the ninth end until a missed takeout from Persinger left Canada with a chance to score multiple points. Persinger was able to make the double takeout with his last shot to give Canada only a draw for two points when things looked disastrous for a moment.

 

A fantastic raise takeout with Hufman’s second stone of the 10th end opened up the path to the four-foot for the Americans. When Gushue’s final stone didn’t curl around their stone in the top of the house to give the U.S. a more difficult shot, Team USA just needed to draw the full eight foot for the win.

 

“Our game today against Italy we didn’t play our best. It wasn’t a well-played game by both teams but still snuck it out. We knew we had to bring our A-game. We just played really well tonight,” Tilker said. “We might have caught them off guard a little bit seeing a 3-6 team. You never know you can lose to anyone. I think we’ve proven we can compete at the world stage. I don’t think there’s any doubt about that. This week there might have been some with our record.”

 

The top six teams will qualify to Saturday’s playoffs with Norway grabbing the fourth available spot tonight with a 7-6 win over the Netherlands. Sweden, Scotland and Canada have also earned berths. The two teams with the best round robin performance will earn direct berths to the semifinals. The other four teams will play in qualification games (#3 vs #6 and #4 vs. #5) on Saturday morning with the winners moving on to the semifinals.

 

Line score:

Canada               020 010 002 0 – 5

*USA                   101 100 200 1 – 6

*last stone in first end (hammer)

 

Other draw results: Scotland 7, Russia 2; Norway 7, Netherlands 6; Switzerland 10, Japan 9 (extra end)

 

Standings:

Scotland             9-1 Q

Sweden              9-1 Q

Canada               8-2 Q

Norway               7-4 Q

Switzerland        6-4

Korea                  5-5

Russia                 5-5

USA                     4-6

China                  3-7

Italy                     3-7

Netherlands      3-7

Japan                  3-8

Germany            1-9

Q=Qualified to playoffs

 

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

Friday, April 6:

8:30 a.m., USA vs. China (Deija Zou) – Live on the Olympic Channel

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 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.

 

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