USA finishes fifth at World Championship after extra end loss to Japan in playoffs

By Terry L. Davis | April 06, 2019, 3:04 p.m. (ET)

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

April 6, 2019

 

USA finishes fifth at 2019 World Men’s Championship

 

(LETHBRIDGE, Alta.) – Team USA’s run at the 2019 Pioneer Hi-Bred World Men’s Curling Championship came to a close today after a dramatic overtime loss to Japan in the opening round of the playoffs at ENMAX Centre.

 

John Shuster (Superior, Wis.) and teammates Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), and Korey Dropkin (Duluth, Minn.) shook off a shaky start to force Japan’s Yuta Matsumura into an extra end where the Japanese drew the button for the win.

 

“They’re gritty; they’re good players. They throw good rocks. They don’t make too many tactical errors either,” Shuster said about Japan, who will now move on to face top-seeded Sweden at 2 p.m. in the semifinals. Canada defeated Scotland, 6-5, to advance to the other semifinal against Switzerland. That match will take place at 7 tonight.

 

“I think the first deuce gave us control of the game,” Matsumura said. “We were not surprised (that United States threw away their last stone in the ninth end), that’s their style. I’m very happy to be in the semifinal.  Sweden are a very, very good team so it’s going to be tough going.”

 

The U.S. team’s final ranking is fifth with Scotland finishing sixth.

 

“I think we played really, really good all week. We didn’t quite execute as well the second half of the week – me personally, so it was kind of a bummer,” Shuster said.

 

Japan had control of the first half of the game while the U.S. was setting itself up to finish strong in the second half.

 

“We gave up two deuces and got forced back but got two steals on that. I thought the ninth end there that we had control that entire end and were just trying to figure out the whole end – the whole game – how to gain control. The fact that we made it out of the first end alive was kind of a miracle.,” Shuster said.

 

The first end was indeed a test for the U.S. team as a series of misses left Japan counting four – with last stone – when Shuster went to throw his first skip stone. Shuster bailed the team out with two fantastic double takeouts to limit Japan to only a draw for two.

 

The Americans would then be forced to draw the full four-foot for a single point in the second end as Japan continued to control the game early on. Two fantastic draws from Plys in the third end set up a steal for the U.S. when Matsumura’s runback attempt only removed one as the end unfolded.

 

The U.S. was set to hold Japan to a single in the fourth end until Shuster’s final stones were both slightly heavy and a deuce developed for Matsumura. A series of half shots from the U.S. forced Shuster to draw for a single point in the fifth. As in game’s past, the U.S. came out strong in the sixth end and stole a point to level the scoreboard when Japan erred on its double takeout that could have potentially netted them two or three points.

 

Another solid end from the U.S. had Japan chasing in the seventh. Matsumura was forced to draw the four-foot against two American stones. The U.S. tried to out-position Japan early in the eighth end, but Matsumura’s team matched the Americans shot for shot as the end was eventually blanked.

 

Two good stones from Landsteiner set up a deuce opportunity early in the ninth but Shuster’s first draw slipped too deep into the back of the four-foot to allow Matsumura to come down to it and freeze. The U.S. opted to give the point away and keep the hammer for the 10th.

 

The U.S. got two in scoring position in the 10th after a nice tap from Hamilton and eventually overcame a late miss to set up a draw for two to send the game into overtime. The U.S. put the pressure on Japan with two stones in the rings but Matsumura, who had great draw weight the whole game, coolly placed his final stone on the button to head to the semifinal against Sweden.

 

“I’d like my first one back in the ninth because I think that probably gives us a great chance of winning that game if we get a two there, maybe a three. Finally, the first draw I threw the right way the whole game was the last one in the 11th,” Shuster said.

 

The losers of the semifinal games today will meet in the bronze medal match on Sunday at 12 p.m. MT followed by the gold-medal game at 5.

 

Line scores, qualification playoffs:

*Japan                200 200 101 01 – 7

USA                     011 011 000 20 – 6

 

Scotland             010 200 010 1 – 5

*Canada             202 000 101 0 – 6

*last rock in first end

 

Standings:

1-4 to be determined

5. USA

6. Scotland

7. Italy

8. Germany

9. Russia

10. Netherlands

11. China

12. Norway

13. Korea

 

USA results:

Japan 7, USA 6 (qualification playoff)

USA 8, Norway 4

Sweden 8, USA 4

USA 10, Japan 4

Canada 6, USA 3

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

 

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.

 

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).