Price Atkinson -- CAMROSE, Alberta - Team Shuster is on a roll.
After winning three of four games last weekend at the World Financial Group Continental Cup in Ontario, the United States squad led by veteran John Shuster has continued its solid play in their first two-games of the 2018 Meridian Canadian Open.
Shuster rallied to knock off top-ranked Niklas Edin 7-6 yesterday but this afternoon came up just short in a 6-5 loss to John Epping.
Epping started with the hammer and grabbed his deuce right out of the gate before Shuster added one in the second end. After a scoreless third, the 2015 Canadian Open winner added another deuce for a 4-1 lead over the Americans.
But Shuster fought back with a short runback triple for two in the fifth end. Up 4-3 with three ends to play, Epping was content for singles in the sixth and eighth end for the win.
Yesterday in the opener trailing Edin 6-4 going to the final end, Team Shuster grabbed their deuce to force an extra ninth end. That’s where the Duluth native and his crew’s thievery came in handy, stealing one from the Swedes to emerge with the 7-6 victory.
Despite the loss today, it’s been a heck of a start for the four-time Olympian and his team, as they’re rolling ahead of next month’s 2018 Winter Olympics next month in South Korea.
They steamrolled thru the United States Olympic Trials in November before dropping the opener in a best-of-three series against Heath McCormick. His team of lead John Landsteiner, Matt Hamilton and vice skip Tyler George roared back with a 9-4 win in game two against McCormick, forcing the deciding game they captured 7-5 to punch their ticket to PyeongChang next month.
Immediately after winning the U.S. Olympic Trials this past fall, Shuster sounded as if this team could make one to reckon with in his fourth Olympic Games.
“This one actually feels a lot more like the first one because it’s a long journey with a common group. This group basically from the time the last Olympic cycle ended, we came together and did it all together as a team. That makes this one extra special and also extra exciting to get there because I think it’s the more prepared team I’ve been apart of heading to the Olympics.”
Last month at the U.S. Olympic Trials for Mixed Doubles, Shuster and teammate Cory Christensen only dropped one game in round robin play before losing to his teammate Matt Hamilton and sister Becca in the finals.
Shuster now awaits the the Mouat-Gunnlaugson loser in the B bracket quarterfinals tomorrow.