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Team Shuster wins Men’s USA Curling Championship

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EVERETT, Wash. — Winning a national title never gets old for Olympian John Shuster who captured No. 6 today after defeating Todd Birr’s team, 8-6, in the men’s gold-medal game of the 2017 USA Curling National Championships at XFINITY Arena of Everett.

With a clutch draw to the button with the final stone of the game, Shuster (Superior, Wis.) and teammates Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), and Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) concluded an undefeated week with a national title.

Shuster’s team only gave up three steals in 11 games in finishing the week with a perfect 11-0 record. The team is coached by Phill Drobnick (Eveleth, Minn.).

“It’s a gigantic accomplishment that you just never know was possible – to go undefeated through this entire thing, especially with the great teams we have in the field. It is pretty special,” said Shuster, who led Team USA to a bronze medal at the 2016 World Men’s Championship in Switzerland.

The Shuster rink will now represent the U.S. at the 2017 Ford World Men’s Championship and the Humpty’s Champions Cup, both in Canada in April.

“Coming into this week, I figured that our chance of going to Worlds was probably somewhere around the 10-20 percent range because Heath (McCormick) and those guys have had such a great year. I didn’t foresee that happening, but I did foresee us being in the mix around the end of the week. After we finally got healthy halfway through November, since then we’ve made some great strides and played some really good curling.”

The game turned in favor of Birr (Blaine, Minn.) and teammates Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), John Benton (St. Michael, Minn.), and Tom O’Connor (Brooklyn Center, Minn.) in the fourth end when Shuster’s final stone of the end inadvertently tapped a third Birr rock into the rings, giving the 2007 national champion a draw for four points to take a 5-2 lead. Birr had a runback in the fifth end that the team couldn’t quite convert, giving Shuster’s team an open draw for two points to narrow the gap at 5-4.

After holding Birr’s team to a single in the sixth end, the Shuster rink needed to amp the offense up and got a little help from their opponent when Birr’s takeout attempt moved a second Shuster rock into the four-foot. Shuster then drew down to pick up three points and take the lead back.

In the eighth end, Team Shuster piled granite into the rings to fluster Team Birr. George’s final vice skip stone navigated a wall of guards into the back of the four-foot to put four stones in scoring position. Not to be out-done, Ruohonen followed the path and left his team’s stone covering the back half of the button with two Shuster stones behind it for backing. Much to the delight of the fans, Shuster placed his first skip stone on top of it to cover the rest of the button and take away Team Birr’s chance to score more than one point.

After blanking the ninth end, Shuster’s team just needed to thwart a steal attempt. Birr placed his final stone of the championship in the top of the four-foot – and had two other stones in the rings – to force Shuster to draw the button for the win.

This is the sixth men’s national championship title for Shuster and Polo, third for George, and second for Hamilton and Landsteiner.

“This is a surreal feeling. You put so much time into this and it’s really nice when it pays off – not just to win it but to win it the way we did. It’s an incredible feeling,” said Hamilton.

Archives of games from the live web stream are posted at www.usacurl.org.

Men’s Final:
Todd Birr            010 401 010 0 – 6
*John Shuster   101 020 300 1 – 8
*last rock in first end

Gold medalists, Team Sinclair: Jamie Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.), Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.), Coach Scott Baird (Bemidji, Minn.)

Gold medalists, Team Shuster: John Shuster (Superior, Wis.), Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.), Coach Phill Drobnick (Eveleth, Minn.)

Silver medalists, Team Roth: Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.), Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.), Aileen Geving (Duluth, Minn.), Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), Coach Ann Swisshelm (Grosse Pointe, Mich.)

Silver medalists, Team Birr: Todd Birr (Blaine, Minn.), Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), John Benton (St. Michael, Minn.), Tom O’Connor (Brooklyn Center, Minn.)

Bronze medalists, Team Potter: Cassie Potter (St. Paul, Minn.), Jackie Lemke (Medford, Wis.), Sophie Bader (St. Louis Park, Minn.), Stephanie Bohan (White Bear Lake, Minn.)

Bronze medalists, Team Clark: Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.), Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Colin Hufman (Seattle), Philip Tilker (Seattle), Coach Ken Trask (Seattle)Winning a national title never gets old for Olympian John Shuster who captured No. 6 today after defeating Todd Birr’s team, 8-6, in the men’s gold-medal game of the 2017 USA Curling National Championships at XFINITY Arena of Everett.

With a clutch draw to the button with the final stone of the game, Shuster (Superior, Wis.) and teammates Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), and Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.) concluded an undefeated week with a national title.

Shuster’s team only gave up three steals in 11 games in finishing the week with a perfect 11-0 record. The team is coached by Phill Drobnick (Eveleth, Minn.).

“It’s a gigantic accomplishment that you just never know was possible – to go undefeated through this entire thing, especially with the great teams we have in the field. It is pretty special,” said Shuster, who led Team USA to a bronze medal at the 2016 World Men’s Championship in Switzerland.

The Shuster rink will now represent the U.S. at the 2017 Ford World Men’s Championship and the Humpty’s Champions Cup, both in Canada in April.

“Coming into this week, I figured that our chance of going to Worlds was probably somewhere around the 10-20 percent range because Heath (McCormick) and those guys have had such a great year. I didn’t foresee that happening, but I did foresee us being in the mix around the end of the week. After we finally got healthy halfway through November, since then we’ve made some great strides and played some really good curling.”

The game turned in favor of Birr (Blaine, Minn.) and teammates Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), John Benton (St. Michael, Minn.), and Tom O’Connor (Brooklyn Center, Minn.) in the fourth end when Shuster’s final stone of the end inadvertently tapped a third Birr rock into the rings, giving the 2007 national champion a draw for four points to take a 5-2 lead. Birr had a runback in the fifth end that the team couldn’t quite convert, giving Shuster’s team an open draw for two points to narrow the gap at 5-4.

After holding Birr’s team to a single in the sixth end, the Shuster rink needed to amp the offense up and got a little help from their opponent when Birr’s takeout attempt moved a second Shuster rock into the four-foot. Shuster then drew down to pick up three points and take the lead back.

In the eighth end, Team Shuster piled granite into the rings to fluster Team Birr. George’s final vice skip stone navigated a wall of guards into the back of the four-foot to put four stones in scoring position. Not to be out-done, Ruohonen followed the path and left his team’s stone covering the back half of the button with two Shuster stones behind it for backing. Much to the delight of the fans, Shuster placed his first skip stone on top of it to cover the rest of the button and take away Team Birr’s chance to score more than one point.

After blanking the ninth end, Shuster’s team just needed to thwart a steal attempt. Birr placed his final stone of the championship in the top of the four-foot – and had two other stones in the rings – to force Shuster to draw the button for the win.

This is the sixth men’s national championship title for Shuster and Polo, third for George, and second for Hamilton and Landsteiner.

“This is a surreal feeling. You put so much time into this and it’s really nice when it pays off – not just to win it but to win it the way we did. It’s an incredible feeling,” said Hamilton.

Archives of games from the live webstream are posted at www.usacurl.org.

Men’s Final:
Todd Birr            010 401 010 0 – 6
*John Shuster   101 020 300 1 – 8
*last rock in first end

Gold medalists, Team Sinclair: Jamie Sinclair (St. Paul, Minn.), Alex Carlson (St. Paul, Minn.), Vicky Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Monica Walker (St. Paul, Minn.), Coach Scott Baird (Bemidji, Minn.)

Gold medalists, Team Shuster: John Shuster (Superior, Wis.), Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.), Joe Polo (Duluth, Minn.), Coach Phill Drobnick (Eveleth, Minn.)

Silver medalists, Team Roth: Nina Roth (McFarland, Wis.), Tabitha Peterson (Eagan, Minn.), Aileen Geving (Duluth, Minn.), Becca Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), Coach Ann Swisshelm (Grosse Pointe, Mich.)

Silver medalists, Team Birr: Todd Birr (Blaine, Minn.), Rich Ruohonen (Brooklyn Park, Minn.), John Benton (St. Michael, Minn.), Tom O’Connor (Brooklyn Center, Minn.)

Bronze medalists, Team Potter: Cassie Potter (St. Paul, Minn.), Jackie Lemke (Medford, Wis.), Sophie Bader (St. Louis Park, Minn.), Stephanie Bohan (White Bear Lake, Minn.)

Bronze medalists, Team Clark: Brady Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.), Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Colin Hufman (Seattle), Philip Tilker (Seattle), Coach Ken Trask (Seattle)