With just two games remaining in the round robin of the 2013 World Wheelchair Championship in Sochi, Russia, Team USA is poised for a return to the playoffs.Patrick McDonald (Madison, Wis.) and teammates David Palmer (Mashpee, Mass.), Jimmy Joseph (New Hartford, N.Y.) and Penny Greely (Green Bay, Wis.) earned two more wins today to improve to 6-1, just behind Canada's Jim Armstrong rink, which lost its first game today and has a 7-1 record. The U.S. just missed the playoffs last year after losing a tiebreaker game to finish fifth.
In the morning game against Finland's Markku Karjalainen rink, the U.S. had to stage a second half comeback to get the win. Finland, which is trying in earnest to accumulate points toward qualifying for the upcoming Paralympic Games, scored in the first three ends to take a 4-0 lead over the Americans. McDonald converted a takeout with his first stone of the fourth end to put four U.S. points in scoring position but came up just a little light with his final stone to earn a fifth point. With the game now tied, Finland scored singles in the next three ends to try to put the game away. The Americans got a big end set up again in the eighth and scored three to send the game to an extra end. The U.S. would steal a single point to earn the win when Karjalainen was light on his final draw into the four-foot.
"Once the game started going, it was weight control," McDonald said, explaining how the team got behind early in the game. "But I had some good ones later, and I can't say enough about the front end. Those guys saved a lot. We had a talk and buckled down ... and we just started playing better, and executing better, and we somehow got it into an extra end with some lucky breaks."
The afternoon game against Korea's HakSung Kim (0-7), which finished second at last year's world championship, was less dramatic as the U.S. controlled most of the match and stayed ahead on the scoreboard to earn a 7-3 win.
The U.S. finishes the round robin on Thursday with games against host Russia (4-4) and Scotland (3-5). The Page playoffs get underway Friday afternoon.
Follow live scores and shot-by-shot at http://wwhcc2013.curlingevents.com/livescores.
Live coverage of all games on Sheet C can be viewed worldwide at http://russiasport.ru. Video highlights can be found at http://wwhcc2013.curlingevents.com/video. Results, news and photos from the 2013 World Wheelchair Curling Championship can be found at http://wwhcc2013.curlingevents.com.