Team USA sweeps past Italy to grab fifth win in Lethbridge

By Terry L. Davis | April 03, 2019, 2:10 p.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 3, 2019

 

USA sweeps past Italy at 2019 World Men’s Championship

 

(LETHBRIDGE, Alta.) – John Shuster and the American men put in another great shooting output to pick up the team’s fifth win at the 2019 Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship.

 

With an 8-3 victory this morning over Italy’s Joel Retornaz rink, the U.S. men are 5-2 in the 12-game round robin at the ENMAX Centre.

 

Shuster (Superior, Wis.) and teammates Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) shot a scorching 90 percent – including a perfect sixth end that changed the game.

 

“We’re out on the ice and putting down the broom, and it just feels like the guys are going to throw the right weight at the broom and have the opportunity to make every single shot,” said Shuster, who is competing in his eighth world men’s championship. “It might be as good as I’ve felt with a team at any competition we’ve ever played it. It’s a lot of fun.”

 

It was a tight game with Italy throughout the first half but the U.S picked up a key steal of one in the fourth end to give them a two-point leading heading into the second half. A series of misses from Italy and a perfect end from the U.S. resulting in a steal of three points for the Americans was too much for Italy to recover from.

 

“It was a big confidence booster to not only make eight shots in a row but to come out and steal three. It put us in a good, comfortable spot and helped us finish the game. Hopefully we can bring that into the next game,” said Landsteiner, 28, who works as an engineer when not on the curling sheet.

 

Up next at 2 p.m. MT, the U.S. men will face China’s Qiang Zou rink (1-6), which lost to the Netherlands this morning by a 10-5 score. Japan moved into first place in the standings with a 9-3 win over Canada as the host country lost its first round robin match. Switzerland, Sweden and Canada are tied for second place at 6-1 with the U.S. sitting in fifth place at 5-2. At the conclusion of the round robin, the top six teams advance to the playoffs on Saturday.

 

The U.S. team got off to a slow start against Italy and were forced into a single point in the opening end. Italy had a chance to score two points in the next end but Retornaz’s final draw down to the button was a hair too heavy and the Italians only scored a point to tie the game, 1-1. Italy had control of the third end early on and Shuster was eventually forced to draw the button against three Italian counters to earn a point.

 

Shuster made a perfect hit and roll in the fourth end to set up a steal that gave the Americans a two-point lead when Retornaz was unable to remove both of the American stones in the four-foot with the last shot.

 

The U.S. team started the second half strong by going eight-for-eight to set up a game-changing steal of three. A fantastic hit and roll from Plys late in that end left five U.S. stones in scoring position to harass Italy for the remainder of the end. The scoring area for Italy was well blocked by the time Retornaz got into the hack to throw the final stone of the end. His draw would be heavy, and the U.S. would end up collecting three points.

 

Team USA would deliver a perfect freeze with Shuster’s final stone of the seventh end in hopes of limiting the Italian men to one point. However, Retornaz was able to place his stone perfectly on the other side of the four-foot to pick up his team’s lone deuce of the game. The Americans made a fairly open hit to score two in the eighth end when Retornaz’s draw behind a center guard didn’t get into a good enough position to fluster Shuster. Italy would offer the handshake to end the game after that.

 

“We were putting draws in good positions the whole game and really controlling shooters and hits. We had a two-point lead at that particular point so to come out and just continue to do the same – obviously, they [Italy] were going to try to force the issue with offense there. But Chris made an absolute zinger with his second one there and he made a really nice nose hit with his first one that really shut the four-foot off for them. We got a half shot out of them and Chris made that in-off. When you place shots in good spots, you get those opportunities,” Shuster said about the pivotal sixth end.

 

Line score:

*USA     101 103 02x x – 8

Italy       010 000 20x x – 3

*last rock in first end

 

Other Draw 12 session scores: Japan 9, Canada 3; Scotland 8, Norway 4; Netherlands 10, China 5

 

Standings:

Japan                  7-1

Canada               6-1

Switzerland        6-1

Sweden              6-1

USA                     5-2

Italy                     4-3

Scotland             4-3

Netherlands      3-4

Russia                 2-5

China                  1-6

Germany            1-6

Norway               1-6

Korea                  0-7

 

How to watch: In partnership with World Curling TV, the Olympic Channel and NBCSN are providing live coverage of eight of Team USA’s 12 round robin games plus the playoffs. To see the complete schedule, go to https://www.teamusa.org/USA-Curling/Features/2019/March/26/TV-schedule-for-World-Mens-Championship.

 

Live scores & social media: Live scores are posted at http://www.worldcurling.org/wmcc2019. USA Curling is posting game recaps and photos after each U.S. game at www.usacurl.org. The official event hashtags are #wmcc2019 and #curling.

 

Playoff format: At the conclusion of the 12-game round robin, the top six teams will advance to the playoffs. The teams ranked No. 1 and No. 2 will move directly to the semifinals. The other four playoff rinks will compete in qualification playoffs. The winners of the semifinals move on to the gold-medal game while the losing sides compete for bronze.

 

Team USA schedule (all times local, Mountain Time):

Today, 2 p.m.: USA vs. China (Qiang Zou)

Thursday, 9 a.m.: USA vs. Canada (Kevin Koe)

Thursday, 7 p.m.: USA vs. Japan (Yuta Matsumura)

Friday, 9 a.m.: USA vs. Sweden (Niklas Edin)

Friday, 7 p.m.: USA vs. Norway (Magnus Ramsfjell)

 

Round robin results:

USA 8, Italy 3

Switzerland 7, USA 4

USA 10, Russia 3

USA 9, Scotland 8

USA 8, Germany 6

USA 6, Korea 3

Netherlands 6, USA 5

 

USA Curling is sponsored by AtomOS, Toyota, Brooms Up Curling Supplies, Carhartt, CryoMAX 8-Hour Cold Pack, Sitrin, The RAM Restaurant & Brewery, Thorne, ISS (Ice, Sports & Solar), and Twin Cities Orthopedics, and is partnered with Brakebush, 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).