PYEONGCHANG, South Korea -- As the clock ticked past midnight and into the early morning hours Friday, Matt Hamilton and the rest of the U.S. men's curling team had big plans.
"I think it's healthy to celebrate a little bit," Hamilton said. "I might go back to the 1/8athletes3/8 village and have a McFlurry."
The Americans had reason to party -- curling style -- after a 5-3 upset victory over Canada sent them into Saturday's gold-medal match at the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Barely a week ago, the American men were in big trouble. Skip John Shuster and his squad had won only two of six games in round-robin play and looked to be headed for an early exit.
Then came three straight victories to push them into the semifinal against the Canadians, who were pre-tournament favorites.
"Believing in ourselves," team member John Landsteiner said when asked how the U.S. was able to win. "Playing the way we know how."
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On Thursday night, as the match stretched late at Gangneung Curling Centre, the teams stood tied at 2 through seven of 10 ends. The Canadians felt they were in control until a crucial moment in the eighth when they delivered a stone that couldn't quite get past the U.S.'s guard stone.
"For sure, if my first one doesn't rub and we get by, we're probably getting two 1/8points3/8," Kevin Koe of Canada said.
The difference was a matter of inches at most, but just enough to give the Americans a chance to grab those two for themselves, jumping to a 4-2 lead with two ends to go.
"We were waiting for a time when something was going to happen," Landsteiner said. "And it did."