U.S. men battle back to defeat China as they inch toward playoff berth in Lethbridge

By Terry L. Davis | April 03, 2019, 7:45 p.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 3, 2019

 

Team USA improves to 6-2 at 2019 World Men’s Championship

 

(LETHBRIDGE, Alta.) – Team USA showed grit and determination in overcoming an early deficit to secure a comeback win over China this afternoon at the 2019 Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship.

 

The 7-5 victory over China’s Qiang Zou rink improves John Shuster (Superior, Wis.) and teammates Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) to 6-2 and inches them closer to a berth in Saturday’s playoffs at the ENMAX Centre.

 

“That showed a lot from us that we weren’t about to give up,” said Plys, who competed at the 2010 Olympics with Shuster. “We just kept on making shots and needed to win each end after we fell into that early deficit – and we did. We got a couple of misses from them late that helped us out as well.”

 

The U.S. men have four games left in the 12-game round robin with three of them against likely playoff-bound teams, including Canada (6-1), Japan (7-1) and Sweden (7-1). They will close out the round robin against Norway (2-6) on Friday night.

 

“We knew we had to keep battling because we have a lot left on the schedule. We needed that win to take a little bit of pressure off the next couple of days,” Plys said.

 

China had a stellar start to the game and had the U.S. team chasing until a big steal in the sixth end changed the game’s momentum in favor of the American men. The U.S. kept battling and set up a steal in the 10th to thwart China’s attempt to score two to win.

 

“We were prepared to play an extra end. Games where you get down early you say, ‘This might take us 11 to win’ so it was nice not to have to play an extra,” Shuster said. “It kept us extra-end free for the season. We’ve played like 70-some games and haven’t had to play one yet.”

 

After China scored a deuce to begin the game, the U.S. was forced to draw against three Chinese rocks in the second end. China would end up stealing a point, however, when the final American stone was swept just out of first count behind the tee-line. China continued to dominate the U.S. into the third, but Shuster saved the end with an in-off double takeout to score one.

 

Team USA settled into the game in the fourth and played a solid end to force China into a takeout to score one. The Americans overcame an up-and-down fifth end to secure two points to cut into the Chinese lead.

 

The U.S. came out on the attack in the second half and a well-played sixth end, coupled with the Chinese skip missing for the first time, resulted in a steal of two for the U.S. as they took the lead for the first time. After the seventh end was blanked, the U.S. continued to pressure China. A well-placed draw from Plys in the eighth had the Chinese on their toes and Zou was eventually forced to draw for a single.

 

The U.S. had an opportunity to score multiple points building early in the ninth end but back-to-back rollouts after removing Chinese stones left Shuster with an open takeout to score just one.

 

The game-winning steal was set up when Hamilton drew down to the button and left his stone behind two center guards. Plys was able to follow up with a freeze to have two stones to fluster China with. Zou narrowly missed a double takeout with his first attempt – but they did remove one. Shuster used his final stone of the game to put up a guard to block one side of the four-foot. Zou’s last toss would be swept out of the back of the four-foot by Plys as the U.S. team sewed up the steal for the win.

 

“We didn’t catch a few breaks early and we forced them to make some tough shots down the stretch,” Shuster said. “We had a great sixth end where we got the steal of two that was almost a steal of three.”

 

The U.S. team shot 89 percent as a four-some, including a perfect game from Landsteiner.

 

“The first three ends were not fun. The Chinese guys played really, really good throughout the whole game. We just told ourselves to keep battling,” Plys said.

 

Next up for Shuster and Co. will be a match with host Canada at 9 a.m. MT tomorrow. In the evening the team will take on Japan at 7.

 

Line score:

*China  210 100 010 0 – 5

USA       001 022 001 1 – 7

*last rock in first end

 

Other Draw 13 session scores: Switzerland 11, Korea 2; Sweden 9, Russia 5; Norway 5, Germany 3

 

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

 

Standings:

Japan                  7-1

Sweden              7-1

Switzerland        7-1

Canada               6-1

USA                     6-2

Italy                     4-3

Scotland             4-3

Netherlands      3-4

Norway               2-6

Russia                 2-6

China                  1-7

Germany            1-7

Korea                  0-8

 

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):

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 7, China 5

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).