By Andrew Krueger for the Duluth News Tribune

The U.S. men’s curling team will be bringing gold medals back to the Duluth Curling Club.

For the first time, an American curling team has won an Olympic gold medal as the U.S. defeated Sweden 10-7 on Saturday in South Korea.

The U.S. scored five points in the eighth end to break a tie game and earn the victory.

Vice-skip Tyler George of the U.S. and his teammates, skip John Shuster, lead John Landsteiner and second Matt Hamilton celebrate after winning the gold medal. REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton

A crowd of at least 100 people gathered at the Duluth Curling Club to watch the game; the club is the home base for the team. Because of the time difference, the game started at 12:30 a.m. Duluth time.

The U.S. team includes skip John Shuster, a Chisholm native now living in Superior, John Landsteiner and Tyler George of Duluth, Matt Hamilton of McFarland, Wis., and alternate Joe Polo of Duluth. They’re coached by Phill Drobnick of Eveleth.

The U.S. men’s curling team listens to the national anthem after receiving their gold medals Saturday in South Korea, from left: alternate Joe Polo of Duluth, lead John Landsteiner of Duluth, second Matt Hamilton of McFarland, Wis., vice-skip Tyler George of Duluth, and skip John Shuster, a Chisholm native now living in Superior. REUTERS/John Sibley

It was the first time that a U.S. curling team had reached a gold medal game at the Olympics. The only other U.S. medal in curling was a bronze, won by the American men’s team at the 2006 Winter Olympics. Shuster and Polo were on that 2006 team.

“I told (teammate) Matt (Hamilton), ‘I think it’s a dream. I’ll wake up tomorrow and this might not be real’. It’s just fantastic,” Shuster said of receiving his gold medal.

Skip John Shuster of the U.S. watches the shot as his teammates, lead John Landsteiner and second Matt Hamilton, sweep on Saturday. REUTERS/John Sibley

MORE COVERAGE:

Duluth Curling Club erupts as U.S. men’s curling takes the gold

The U.S. men’s curling team ready to receive their gold medals Saturday in South Korea, from left: alternate Joe Polo of Duluth, lead John Landsteiner of Duluth, second Matt Hamilton of McFarland, Wis., vice-skip Tyler George of Duluth, and skip John Shuster, a Chisholm native now living in Superior. REUTERS/John Sibley

With the score deadlocked at 5-5 on Saturday, U.S. skip John Shuster provided some last-rock magic with a pinpoint double take-out for five that left their Swedish opponents stunned as the Gangneung Curling Centre erupted into chants of “USA, USA.”

“I think during the entire (eighth) end we could feel it building,” said Shuster. “Their margin for error was incredibly small. I can’t tell you how un-nervous I was.”

The victory capped a remarkable comeback for the United States who sputtered through early preliminary-round play with a 2-4 record before rattling off three straight wins to make the playoffs where they beat twice defending Olympic champions Canada in the semi-finals before seeing off the top-ranked Swedes.

The only real miscue involving the Americans on Saturday came when officials mistakenly presented them with the women’s gold medals, but that error was quickly corrected and switched for the correct ones.

“We’ve played our best when our backs were up against the wall,” George said. “We took it to another level this week.

“Usually we’re fighting and scrapping to get into the playoffs but for five days we were the best team in the world and we did it at the right time.”

The result meant more Olympic disappointment for Niklas Edin who had skipped Sweden to world championship titles in 2013 and 2015 and a bronze at the Sochi Olympics but could not grab the one medal to elude him.

The contest got off to a tactical start with the Swedes blanking the first then scoring a pair in the second only to have the U.S. hit right back with a two on another brilliant last-rock shot from Shuster.

The U.S. stole a point in the fourth after a measurement to determine shot stone to take their first lead, 3-2.

The Swedes would not be rattled, answering with two in the fifth as the seesaw battle continued with the U.S. replying with a pair in the sixth and Sweden getting one back in the seventh to leave the teams deadlocked on 5-5 with three ends to play.

After the U.S. scored their five a reeling Sweden chipped two off the deficit in the ninth but there was too much damage to repair and the Swedes finally conceded.

“In the eighth end we don’t exactly get the rocks where we wanted them and they put a lot of rocks in the house and we were forced to go all in,” explained Edin. “That last shot if it curls three centimetres more it’s probably good for them to draw for two or something but when that misses and they make that double we knew we were going to lose.”

Reuters contributed to this report.

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