FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 9, 2018
McCormick rink wins semifinal to move on to gold-medal game at 2018 National Championships
(STEVENS POINT, Wis.) – It only took five ends of play for Heath McCormick’s team to punch its ticket to the gold-medal game of the USA Curling National Championships in Fargo, N.D.
McCormick (Sarnia, Ontario) and teammates Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Korey Dropkin (Duluth, Minn.), and Tom Howell (Milwaukee, Wis.) dispatched Todd Birr’s team 8-1 in dominating fashion in the semifinal tonight at Scheels Arena.
“It was a nice start for us. And then we played a really solid second end to get the force there. Obviously got a fortunate break to get three in the third. It was a nice way to start the game for sure,” said McCormick, who won the national title back in 2012.
Team McCormick will now face Greg Persinger’s team in the championship final at 5 p.m. CT Saturday. Watch the game live at http://go.teamusa.org/2FVAE0Y. The two teams battled in the Page 1-2 game yesterday with Persinger’s team winning, 8-3.
“We’re not gonna change anything. We’re just gonna rest up and try to be as focused and ready as we can for the final,” McCormick said.
The winner of the National Championships will represent the U.S. at the 2018 World Men’s Curling Championship in Las Vegas March 31-April 8.
“I think we’re ready. We just need to keep our minds where they’re at and everything should be okay,” Howell said. “Last night we didn’t have the game that we wanted to, so we took a lot of time to prepare and made sure we got everything we needed right today. We spent a lot of time this morning at practice, and we were ready.”
Birr (Ham Lake, Minn.) and teammates John Benton (Blaine, Minn.), Hunter Clawson (Clarksville, Md.), and Tom O’Connor (Brooklyn Center, Minn.) brought home bronze medals for the second time this season after finishing third at the Olympic Team Trials in November.
“It was a good run. Midweek it wasn’t looking that way. We just kind of grinded it out and kept going. We just never played fantastic all week,” Birr said.
Team McCormick started the game strongly by scoring a deuce and never let their feet off the gas pedal as they held Birr to a single and then scored three more points in the third end. A missed double takeout for two points in the fourth end left Team Birr in a further deficit. Unable to score once again in the fifth end, Team Birr opted to end their run at the National Championships.
“It was just a dud. We came out and I think we were in a good place coming out. We felt good, but we just didn’t execute very well,” said Birr, who won the national title in 2007. “John [Benton] made a great shot in the first end to get out of trouble and then I couldn’t follow around that corner guard. It wrecked and was downhill from there.”
Team McCormick out-shot Team Birr 92 percent to 72 in the lopsided victory.
Line score, men’s semifinal:
*Heath McCormick 203 21x xxx x – 8
Todd Birr 010 00x xxx x – 1
*last rock in first end
The 2019 National Championships will take place Feb. 9-16 in Kalamazoo, Mich.
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