Team McCormick’s Game 3 didn’t begin quite as badly as Game 2 had ended Friday when a piece of debris on the ice caused its final shot to go astray, but it was close.
Team Shuster had the hammer to start the game and used it to get off to a blistering start, posting a three-point opening end. Team Shuster rode it the rest of the way to a 7-5 win in the men’s U.S. Curling Team Trials at Baxter Arena.
The win earned John Shuster’s squad the right to represent the U.S. in the PyeongChang Olympics in February.
Shuster will be the first American male to curl in four Olympics, and he’ll be the American skip for the third straight time.
His team also had gotten off to a fast start in Game 2 with a three-point second end, and he said those starts were key to coming back in the series.
“Incredibly big,” he said. “Even two on the board in the first end, we knew that was going to put an incredible amount of pressure on those guys.”
But Team McCormick didn’t fold after the Shuster opening.
Heath McCormick responded with the hammer in the second end by bumping the Team Shuster shot rock off the button for a deuce to trim the Shuster advantage to 3-2.
“Those guys gave us everything they had,” Shuster said. “That’s a heck of a team that we (beat).”
After losing the first game in the best-of-3 playoff Thursday, Shuster’s squad stormed back to take the final two games to win the series.
“This team is a special team,” Shuster said. “I’m proud of the way they handled themselves. We lost the first game and dug ourselves into a little bit of a hole.
“The resiliency that these guys showed, and to come out and get a quick start today and then hang on for dear life.”
McCormick said if he had to play the first end over again, he might have played some different shots.
“The start was obviously not great,” he said. “That kind of snuck up on us. Maybe I didn’t play the right shot in the first end.
“It was a disappointing week because we didn’t win. We came here knowing that we were very capable of doing this, and we had the right attitude all week. Fought back a couple times when we needed to. But just unfortunately didn’t get it done.”
Shuster’s teams finished with records of 2-7 in both the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and 2014 Sochi games.
But vice skip Tyler George and second Matt Hamilton weren’t with Shuster then. Shuster said this team feels like his 2006 squad, which won the bronze medal in Turin.
“The last two Olympics that I went to, our teams were together a little bit but finally came together in the last year,” Shuster said. “In this group, basically from the time the last Olympic cycle ended, we came together and did it all together as a team. I think it’s the most prepared team I’ve ever been a part of heading to the Olympics.”
Shuster......301 010 010 1—7
McCormick.....020 100 101 0—5