(OMAHA, Nebraska) -- Teams skipped by Nina Roth, Heath McCormick and John Shuster got a little more breathing room in the standings as the push for the playoffs at the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team Trials for Curling was on full display tonight at Baxter Arena.
McCormick and teammates Chris Plys (Duluth, Minn.), Korey Dropkin (Duluth, Minn.), and Tom Howell (Milwaukee, Wis.) had a sluggish start but battled out of an 0-4 hole early on to defeat Craig Brown’s rink, 8-6.
“We’re feeling really good about the win,” said Plys. “We knew tonight was going to be a huge game. The ice changed a little bit from the last time we had played on it and Brown’s team made everything like their lives depended on it at the start. We had to stay with it.”
McCormick’s team took the lead in the eighth end when Brown’s team was heavy with the final stone and gave up a steal of two. After holding Brown to a single in the ninth, McCormick scored with the final stone to earn the team’s fourth victory.
“I think the way we battled back speaks to the way we’ve prepared on the mental side of things. Last year I think there’s no chance we win that game,” Plys said.
The win moves the McCormick rink into a tie for first place with Shuster’s team, which defeated Brady Clark’s rink, 7-6.
Shuster’s team was slow out of the gates and trailed Clark by three points after missing a shot to give up a single steal in the third end. Shuster (Superior, Wis.) and his team of Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) countered by setting up a deuce in the fourth end and stealing a point when Clark’s final stone rolled out of the rings after a takeout. Shuster’s team had a chance to put the game away in the eighth when Clark missed his double takeout attempt. However, Shuster’s final stone as they were trying to score three points was light as they accepted the deuce and a 7-4 advantage. Clark tried to rally with a deuce in the ninth end to cut into the lead but Shuster’s team kept the house tidy in the 10th to secure the win.
“I think losing that game this morning was a little bit of a reality check,” said Landsteiner, a 2014 Olympian. “We weren’t playing our best games in the first three anyway – almost like we got away with them a little bit. Our theme for the year is to be patient and grind it out. That’s what we did in the first three. We didn’t quite get there in the fourth and seemed to really come together after those first two ends and play eight really solid ones.”
Roth and Sinclair battled back and forth throughout the match and went to an extra end before Roth’s side put the winning stone in place in the 11th for an 8-7 triumph. Roth struck first in the game with two points in the opening end only to have Sinclair answer with three. Roth (McFarland, Wis.) and teammates Tabitha Peterson (St. Paul, Minn.), Aileen Geving (Duluth, Minn.), and Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) added two more points in the third end to take the lead back. Sinclair’s side was held to single the next two times they had hammer and the game was tied 5-5 after six ends. Roth scored a critical deuce in the ninth end to put the pressure on Sinclair’s side to set up a big scoring end in the 10th – which they did to force overtime. Sinclair’s final stone of the extra end didn’t remove enough of the Roth rock in the four-foot to force the skip to throw her final rock.
The round robin continues on Tuesday with games at 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. A link to the live webstream of the round robin can be found at www.NBCSports.com. The playoffs will be live and on tape delay starting Thursday on NBCSN. Game scores will be posted online after each draw at www.usacurl.org. Standings and stats also will be available.
Draw 7 scores: McCormick 8, Brown 6; Shuster 7, Clark 6; Roth 8, Sinclair 7 (extra end)
Draw 6 scores: Birr 8, Shuster 5; Roth 9, Christensen 2; Clark 6, Brown 5
The round robin continues through Wednesday night. If needed, tiebreakers will take place on Thursday morning. The playoffs, a best two-out-of-three series, will begin on Friday and continue through Saturday night, if needed.
USA Curling is hosting the event with Baxter Arena and the Omaha Sports Commission, in partnership with the Aksarben Curling Club and the United States Olympic Committee. The men’s and women’s teams that win the Trials will be named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team, pending approval by the United States Olympic Committee.