CURLING: Fenson, Pottinger advance to finals
PHILADELPHIA — The Pete Fenson rink of Bemidji will play the Chris Brown rink at 2 p.m. Saturday in the title game of the USA National men’s curling tournament.
Fenson advanced to the championship by downing Brady Clark 7-4 Friday morning and stopping Heath McCormick of Duluth 5-4 in Friday’s late Page playoff semifinal. Curling with Fenson are Shawn Rojeski of Chisholm, Joe Polo of Duluth and Ryan Brunt of Portage, Wis.
The rink fell behind 2-0 after three ends against McCormick but knotted the score 4-4 with a point in the ninth. Fenson capped the victory by stealing a point in the 10th end.
In Thursday’s late round robin draw Fenson earned the No. 3 seed in the Page playoffs with a 6-4 victory over Pete Stolt of St. Paul and he kept the momentum by defeating Clark of Seattle, the fourth seed, 7-4 in Friday’s elimination game.
In Friday’s playoff matching the top two seeds, Craig Brown of Wisconsin used the hammer in the 10th end to score a pair and defeat McCormick 7-6.
That result advanced Brown into Saturday’s 2 p.m. national championship game.
In Friday’s playoff opener Fenson used the hammer to score twice in the opening end and the teams traded single points in the third and fourth ends.
Fenson stole a point in the fifth but Clark drew within 4-3 with a pair in the sixth. Fenson added one in the seventh and, after Clark answered with one in the eighth, Fenson tallied two insurance rocks in the ninth.
Fenson cemented the victory when he converted a successful takeout with his first shot of Clark’s only stone in the house.
In the women’s division, the Allison Pottinger rink of St. Paul, which includes Bemidji curler Natalie Nicholson, hung on to defeat the Cassie Potter rink of St. Paul 8-6 in Thursday’s late women’s Page playoff opener at the USA National curling championships.
Thursday’s result advanced Pottinger into the national championship game. The Potter rink, which includes Bemidji natives Cassie Potter and Jamie Haskell, saw its championship dreams fade in the semifinals, however, as it fell 9-5 to Nina Spatola of St. Paul Thursday afternoon.
Spatola will take on Pottinger 9 a.m. Saturday for the national title.
In Thursday’s late game, Pottinger’s team scored three in the opening end but Potter answered with one in the second. Pottinger, however, countered with one in the third and single steals in the fourth and fifth ends to open a 6-1 advantage.
After seven ends Pottinger owned a seemingly comfortable 7-2 lead but Potter rallied with a pair in the eighth and a steal of two in the ninth to trim its deficit to 7-6.
In the 10th end Potter seemed in position for another steal but Nicholson worked a double peel with her first shot and a double takeout with her second to remove all of Potter’s potential scoring rocks.
With her final shot Potter had shot-rock after freezing to a stone in the 12-foot but Pottinger, with the help of effective sweeping from her teammates, was able to contact Potter’s rock and replace it with shot-rock.