John Shuster of Superior and his team are very familiar with being down a game to none at the US Olympic Trials, and after a tight Game 2, they'll face another familiar situation: a winner-take-all match for a trip to the Olympics.
Shuster's rink, including Chris Plys of Duluth, Matt Hamilton of McFarland, Wisconsin, and John Landsteiner of Duluth, defeated Korey Dropkin's quartet 7-3 on Saturday at Baxter Arena in Omaha, Nebraska, setting up a third and final game on Sunday for a trip to the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing, China.
Three of the first five ends were blanked, making it 2-1 to Dropkin's group, including Duluth native Joe Polo, Mark Fenner of Bemidji and Thomas Howell of Milwaukee, at the halfway point. What might have been a decisive point in the match came in the sixth, when Dropkin had the last shot and a chance for a 5-point end that might have effectively sent his team to Beijing. However, the shot was off the mark and led to a steal of two for Shuster.
The 3-2 lead was neutralized in the seventh, but Dropkin was held to a single and a 3-3 tie. After a blank eighth end, Shuster posted a pair of points in the ninth end to take the lead and successfully defended the house in the 10th. Dropkin's last-ditch effort to even the game didn't work, leading to two more for Shuster's side and the final margin.
Dropkin, from Duluth, curled second (and current Team Shuster member Plys third) on Heath McCormick's team in the 2017 Trials, which beat Shuster's rink 5-3 in the opener before Shuster won 9-4 and 7-5 en route to the Olympics.
Peterson team earns Olympic berth
Tabitha Peterson of Eagan, Minnesota will be taking an experienced rink back to the Olympic Games after closing out their women's Olympic Trials series against Duluthian Cory Christensen's rink on Saturday night in Omaha.
The 9-4 decision in game two of the best-of-three series sends the team of Peterson, Nina Roth and Becca Hamilton of McFarland, Wisconsin; and Peterson's sister Tara, also of Eagan to Beijing, China for the 2022 Winter Games. Tabitha Peterson, Roth and Hamilton were all part of the US team in 2018, skipped by Roth, which finished eighth.
Duluthian Aileen Geving is an alternate on Peterson's team.
The match was tied 2-2 after three ends before Peterson's side grabbed three, then a steal of one, to go to the fifth-end break up 6-2. Christensen's rink cut the lead in half, but gave those points back in the seventh end. With their chances running out, Christensen went for broke in the eighth end and came up short, leading to her concession two ends from the finish.
Christensen's team includes Sarah Anderson of Minneapolis, Vicky Persinger of Fairbanks, Alaska, and Taylor Anderson of Minneapolis.
This story was edited at 12:15 a.m. on Nov. 21 to include a recap of the women's match. It was originally posted at 10:57 p.m. on Nov. 20.