USA marches into playoffs on hot streak in Vegas

By Terry L. Davis | April 07, 2018, 5:05 a.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 6, 2018

 

USA clinches playoff berth at 361° World Men’s Championship

 

(LAS VEGAS) – Greg Persinger and the American men are riding a five-game win streak into the playoffs of 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 final five round robin games, including a 5-3 win tonight over Switzerland’s Marc Pfister rink, to earn the final spot in this weekend’s playoffs at the Orleans Arena.

 

“This team – we fight. No matter what, we’re always going to fight,” Persinger said. “We played good all week and it didn’t show most of the week. Here’s what happens when the other team doesn’t make every single shot against you.”

 

The American team is writing a whole new chapter after being 1-6 and left for dead in the playoff hunt days ago.

 

“It’s unbelievable. We started off 1-6 and we easily could have been 5-1 or something like that and to come back and win five straight with our backs against the wall – and get a little help from Korea tonight – is fantastic,” said Ruohonen, who calls the game for the U.S. and throws vice skip stones. “That was one of our best games, I think. Top to bottom we played really well. If we play like that we have a chance.”

 

The U.S. (6-6), the No. 6 seed, will now take on No. 3 Canada (9-3) in tomorrow morning’s playoff game. Korea, which helped the U.S. get into the playoffs by defeating Russia tonight, will take on Norway in the other playoff game. The winning sides will advance to the semifinals where Sweden and Scotland await their opponents.

 

“We have to play the best team in the world tomorrow morning and we have to play them like we did last time,” Ruohonen said. “We’re going to have to make some big shots and the normal ones you have to make. They’re going to be gunning for us and want payback, I’m sure.”

 

The USA-Canada playoff game will be streamed live on the Olympic Channel’s app and website at www.olympicchannel.com.

 

“I can say that at 1-6, I couldn’t imagine that we were gonna make it back to this point,” said Persinger, who shot 99 percent tonight. “I was getting ready to sit out this game because I didn’t figure we were going to have a playoff chance. Yeah, it was pretty crazy. We played really well, the team played great tonight. Play like that tomorrow, we’ve got a chance.”

 

After the first end was blanked, Ruohonen drew behind a tight corner guard with his first stone to set up a deuce for the Americans. Persinger sealed it with an open takeout with the last shot. Another nice draw from Ruohonen in the third end put the pressure on the Swiss as the U.S. tucked a stone behind a corner guard in the four-foot. Pfister had a raise double lined up to score two but settled for just a single.

 

The sides forced one another into taking singles over the next two ends. After the seventh end was blanked, the U.S. was forced into a takeout for one point for a modest 4-2 lead. In the ninth, the U.S. maintained control of the end and had two in scoring position after a beautiful hit and roll with Persinger’s first stone. Switzerland tried to draw behind the U.S. stone in the top of the four-foot but made contact with their other stone and left it out in the open for Persinger to chip out. Pfister was left to draw down to the button and after a measurement, the U.S. stole a point to put the game out of reach.

 

The U.S. did its job in the 10th end to keep the house tidy and made a takeout to punch their ticket to the playoffs for the third straight year.

 

“You know it takes away a lot of the sting from earlier in the week. We always wanted to be here, didn’t necessarily know if we’d make the 1-2 but going into the week I was pretty confident that we’d make the top six, for sure. We were pretty much dead and revived and then on life support the whole week since then, but we’re here,” Tilker said. “Our goal was to be playing on Saturday and now the week that just happened is no longer relevant. We just have to win three games.”

 

Line score:

Switzerland        001 001 000 1 – 3

*USA                   020 010 011 0 – 5

*last stone in first end (hammer)

 

Other draw results: Canada 8, Germany 1; Korea 9, Russia 4; Italy 6, Netherlands 5

 

Standings:

Sweden              11-1 QSF/#1 seed

Scotland             11-1 QSF/#2 seed

Canada               9-3 Q/#3 seed

Korea                  7-5 Q/#4 seed

Norway               7-5 Q/#5 seed

USA                     6-6 Q/#6 seed

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7. Switzerland   6-6

8. Italy                 5-7

9. Russia             5-7

10. Netherlands 4-8

11. Japan            3-9

12. China            3-9

13. Germany     1-11

Q=Qualified to playoffs

QF=Qualified to semifinals

 

Playoff schedule:

Saturday:

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

1:30 p.m., Semifinal #1 – Sweden vs. TBD – 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, Scotland vs. TBD – Live on the Olympic Channel

 

Sunday:

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 5, Switzerland 3

 

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).