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National curling: Fenson topples Clark 7-4 in playoff opener

PHILADELPHIA -- The Pete Fenson rink of Bemidji advanced to the Page playoffs of the USA National men's curling championships with a 6-4 victory over Pete Stolt of St. Paul in Thursday’s late draw and defeated Brady Clark of Seattle 7-4 in Friday’s elimination game which matched the third and fourth seeds.

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 Heath McCormick of Duluth 7-6.

That result advanced Brown into Saturday’s 2 p.m. national championship game. In Friday’s late semifinal, Fenson will meet McCormick. That loser will be eliminated while the winner will square off against Brown for the championship.

Curling with Pete Fenson are Shawn Rojeski of Chisholm, Joe Polo of Duluth and Ryan Brunt of Portage, Wis.

In Friday’s playoff contest 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.

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, remained alive and will meet the Nina Spatola rink of St. Paul Friday evening in an elimination contest. In Thursday’s late elimination playoff game, Spatola downed Courtney George of Duluth 10-4.

That winner will survive to take on Pottinger 10 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.

USA National Curling

Page Playoffs

Women’s First Round

Pottinger 301 110 100 1 - 8

Potter 010 001 022 0 - 6

Pottinger advances to final

Spatola 002 102 302 x - 10

George 000 010 030 x - 4

George eliminated

Friday’s Semifinals

Potter vs. Spatola, loser eliminated

Saturday’s Final

Pottinger vs. semifinal winner, 10 a.m.

Men’s Division

Friday’s Games

First Round

Brown 101 020 010 2 - 7

McCormick 010 201 101 0 - 6

Brown advances to final

Fenson 200 110 102 x 0 7

Clark 001 002 010 x - 4

Clark eliminated

Friday’s Semifinals

Fenson vs. McCormick, loser eliminated

Saturday’s Final

Brown vs. semifinal winner, 2 p.m.

Pat Miller

Pat Miller is the sports editor at the Pioneer.

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