FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Feb. 16, 2019
Shuster leads team to 2019 USA Curling Men’s National Championship title
(KALAMAZOO, Mich.) – John Shuster’s name will be engraved on the national championship trophy for the seventh time after winning the gold-medal game over Rich Ruohonen today at the 2019 USA Curling National Championships.
Shuster (Superior, Wis.) and teammates Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) shot 87 percent as they methodically thwarted offensive attempts by Team Ruohonen in an 8-4 victory.
“These guys are the defending national champions coming in here. We didn’t get a chance to defend last year so it’s kind of cool that we had the two teams that the last time they played each other they were playing for a national title, so it was pretty special,” Shuster said.
Shuster (Superior, Wis.), Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) will now represent the U.S. at the 2019 World Men’s Championship March 30-April 7 in Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada. The team is coached by Don Bartlett.
“We got a lot of breaks early – and when we got breaks, we made it count and that’s the important thing,” Shuster said.
This is the seventh national title for Shuster, who first won in 2003 as lead for Pete Fenson.
“It’s what our team plays all year for, and for us to go out there and get a win is huge,” Shuster said.
It is the third national championship gold-medal victory for Hamilton and Landsteiner and first for Plys, who joined the team this season.
“It’s pretty awesome, I’ve won it a couple of times before, but this time we got to have a new player on the team in Chris Plys, and he’s been a very good friend of mine for a long time so it meant a lot for me to go out there and get a win for him,” Hamilton said.
“We had a good streak going. So we just wanted to go out and play loose and have some fun, and typically when we play loose and have fun good things happen,” said Hamilton, who won the title with Shuster and Landsteiner in 2015 and 2017. “We went out there with the same mindset we’ve had all week.”
Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.) and teammates Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Colin Hufman (Minneapolis, Minn.), Phil Tilker (Seattle), who won the title last year, couldn’t dig out of an early deficit or grab control of the match.
“We played well all week. It was unfortunate that we struggled in those first three ends. We missed some pretty easy shots frankly and let it get away from us,” said Ruohonen, who also won the national title in 2008. “We made some pretty big shots and we had some chances to get back into it. But we had a pretty good season overall and we did what we came to do, one game short.”
Team Shuster applied pressure straight out of the gates but ended up being forced into taking a point in the opening end. Back-to-back steals, however, gave Team Shuster a 4-0 lead after three ends when Team Ruohonen missed several key shots. In the fourth end, Persinger, who throws last stones, converted a hit and roll to score one point to get on the scoreboard. With the hammer advantage in the fifth end, Shuster chipped out a partially frozen stone out of the back eight-foot to score two more.
Desperate to get back in the game, things started turning in Team Ruohonen’s favor in the sixth end. A rare miss from Shuster with his final stone gave Persinger a shot at three points but the team only secured two.
In the seventh end, Shuster was forced to take a point but in return limited their opponents’ offense after Shuster converted a double takeout to take away Team Ruohonen’s chance at two points in the eighth. Persinger would then be forced into make a hit for a single point. In the game’s final end, Shuster made a draw down into the four-foot to score another point, which prompted the handshakes to end the game.
“We had a pretty good season. It’s just disappointing we didn’t give the fans a little bit better show at the end,” Ruohonen said. “But that game should have been close. If we make either shot in two or three than that game is tight to the end so it’s just hard to take another second, I think this is my fourth, I lost count. I think there are one or two things that we could have improved on, but we’ll see.”
Sam Strouse (Midland, Mich.), skip of Team Strouse, was honored with the Ann Brown Sportsmanship Award.
Line score, men’s gold medal game:
Team Ruohonen 000 102 010 x – 4
*Team Shuster 112 020 101 x – 8
Jamie Sinclair (Manotick, Ontario), Sarah Anderson (Minneapolis, Minn.), Taylor Anderson (Minneapolis, Minn.), Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.)
John Shuster (Superior, Wis.), Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.)
Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.), Tabitha Peterson (St. Paul, Minn.), Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), Tara Peterson (Minneapolis, Minn.)
Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Colin Hufman (Minneapolis, Minn.), Phil Tilker (Seattle), Jared Allen (Nashville, Tenn.)
Cory Christensen (Duluth, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Jenna Martin (Wauwatosa, Wis.), Madison Bear (Minneapolis, Minn.)
Todd Birr (Ham Lake, Minn.), Greg Johnson (Appleton, Wis.), Hunter Clawson (Minneapolis, Minn.), Tom O’Connor (Robbinsdale, Minn.), Michael Roos (Nashville, Tenn.)
Final scores and standings are posted at www.usacurl.org.
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.
For more information: Terry Davis, Director of Communications, email@example.com, 608-338-9900 (mobile).