(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) – Seattle’s Brady Clark rink won the men’s final of the 2016 USA Curling National Championships in convincing fashion with a 10-4 victory over John Shuster tonight at Veterans Memorial Arena.
It was the third time the two sides met this week with Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.) and his team of Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Colin Hufman (Seattle), and Philip Tilker (Seattle) prevailing all three times against Shuster’s defending champions.
“I told people close to me that I expected to come here and win it,” Clark said. “This was the best week of my men’s curling career. We capped it off just playing fantastic. Hats off to my team – I think we played fantastic; the icemakers were fantastic; and I think John’s team played really well. We were just on our game and put pressure on them the whole game.”
This is the second men’s national championship for Clark and Tilker, who won the title together in 2013, and first for Persinger and Hufman.
“I’ve played this game a long, long, long time and have been unbelievably close more times than I can count. Honestly at this point, for me it’s more relief than anything,” Hufman said.
“It’s pretty exciting. It’s been a crazy week; we knew we could do it we just had to go through the motions,” said Tilker, 39. “We got a little lead in the game and had to keep our emotions in check. It’s not over until it’s over. We are thrilled to be going to the Champions Cup, this is a big deal for us winning this event here even though we don’t get to go to Worlds because there were other things on the line. We are thrilled to be able to come out and beat John.”
Despite the loss in the national championship title game, Shuster (Duluth, Minn.) and his team of Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.), and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.) have earned enough points in the season-long qualification to represent the U.S. at the 2106 World Men’s Championship April 2-10 in Basel, Switzerland.
Team Clark will now represent the U.S. at the 2016 Champions Cup, a Grand Slam of Curling event, scheduled April 26-May 1 in Sherwood Park, Alberta. “That was our goal here. We knew coming into this that we weren’t probably going to have enough points to get to Worlds so we wanted to make sure we won the title and got to the Champions Cup,” said Persinger, 37. “It’s hard to explain. It’s my first national championship and its feels great. The guys have worked really hard for this and played well all week.”
The scoring began in the second end when Clark’s team had a takeout for three points but settled for two when the shooter rolled across the house and nudged the third point further into the 12-foot than Shuster’s stone. In the third end, a series of half shots led to a single steal by Team Clark to take a 3-0 lead.
In the fourth end, Clark’s side again piled granite in the rings, eventually forcing Shuster to draw for a single point to get on the scoreboard. Clark’s team answered with a draw for three points after cluttering the rings with stones. With a wide open house, Shuster opted to draw for a single point in the sixth end to narrowly cut into Team Clark’s lead.
The game continued in Team Clark’s favor in the seventh end when they converted a takeout to score two points and go up by six. Shuster’s team countered with a deuce in the eighth end only to have Team Clark duplicate for the win.
“I was just proud of how our team. There was a ton of pressure coming in here with a huge points lead from the season,” Shuster said. “Honestly, none of us have played on arena ice hardly at all with the way sweeping has evolved throughout the season. The fact that we were able to make it through this and to also see what a team like Brady’s could do – they knew if they threw the right weight all week that they were going to win this thing and do it handily.”
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Feb. 11, 2016
Clark advances to gold-medal game in Florida
(JACKSONVILLE, Fla.) – Big scoring ends continue to be the glaring statistic aiding Team Brady Clark’s march through the 2016 USA Curling National Championships. That trend continued in tonight’s Page playoff 1-2 game as Clark defeated John Shuster’s rink, 8-2, to advance to the gold-medal game at Veterans Memorial Arena.
Clark (Lynnwood, Wash.) and teammates Greg Persinger (Fairbanks, Alaska), Colin Hufman (Seattle), and Philip Tilker (Seattle) have now scored 19 multiple-point ends in this championship with a 65 percent scoring efficiency with the hammer.
“We had a little bit of a struggle in our last round robin game and sat down as a team and got everything ironed out. We said ‘Let’s go back and do what we did in the first eight games,’ and that’s what we did. The results spoke for themselves,” Tilker said. “That was our strongest game of the week by far.”
Clark’s team scored four points in the second end to take the early advantage over Shuster’s team of Tyler George (Duluth, Minn.), Matt Hamilton (McFarland, Wis.) and John Landsteiner (Duluth, Minn.). Shuster’s team put a deuce on the scoreboard in the fourth end, but allowed Clark’s side to counter with three points in the fifth end. A single steal by Clark’s team when Shuster’s final takeout jammed prompted the handshakes to conclude the game.
“Brady and Greg are calling the line really well, and we’re throwing the right weights – we’re not over-throwing or under-throwing them,” Tilker said. “With the new sweeping styles, it’s a lot harder for the line caller and Greg and Brady have probably done a better job than most people this week doing that. I think that’s why we’re getting some of these bigger ends.”
Shuster’s team will take on Craig Brown’s team in a single semifinal game at 3 p.m. ET tomorrow with the winner advancing to Saturday’s final at 6 p.m. ET. Brown (Madison, Wis.) and teammates Kroy Nernberger (Madison, Wis.), Jared Zezel (Hibbing, Minn.), and Sean Beighton (Seattle) defeated Korey Dropkin’s team, 7-3, in tonight’s Page playoff 3-4 game to stay in contention for the 2016 national title.
The women’s playoffs will take place at 4 p.m. ET tomorrow followed by the men’s playoff games at 8. A live webstream, scores and standings can be found at www.usacurl.org.