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NHL Stadium Series

U.S. men's Olympic curling team good as gold at Stadium Series

PyeongChang champions participate in ceremonial puck drop before Maple Leafs-Capitals game

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Puck Drop at the Stadium Series

Military officers, US men's curling team honored

Prior to the start of the 2018 Stadium Series, the Capitals and Maple Leafs honor naval and Marine officials as well as the US Curling team

  • 03:19 •

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- John Shuster nailed the shot. As if there was any doubt.

Shuster, the skip of the gold medal-winning 2018 U.S. men's curling team at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, delivered the rock with the game puck from between the circles to the dot in the center-ice faceoff circle. It was a perfect shot.

The puck was taken to Walter E. "Slapshot" Carter, the U.S. Naval Academy Superintendent and Vice Admiral, who dropped it between Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Maple Leafs forward Tyler Bozak, the celebratory start of the 2018 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series game between the Toronto Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium on Saturday.

"It's awesome man, it really is," Shuster said. "Just coming out and doing a puck drop, pretty cool, but to do something like this, I mean, this is sort of like history. 

"This is incredible."

The NHL invited Shuster and his teammates, Matt Hamilton, Tyler George, John Landsteiner and Joe Polo to be a part of the pregame pomp and circumstance at the first NHL game played at a U.S. service academy.

The opportunity is not one that they were going to pass on even though none of them have been getting much sleep since returning from PyeongChang, South Korea and starting a barnstorming media tour.

"[John] was super excited to do it," Hamilton said. "We were all really on board with it. Obviously, the Caps, awesome game because they're playing some canucks. Not the Canucks, but they're playing a Canadian team so we're obviously really excited to watch the Capitals win this one."

Shuster, who is from Chisolm, Minnesota, said he's a fan of the Minnesota Wild, but he used to play baseball with Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen and he had a four-hour conversation with forward T.J. Oshie at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

"Unless they're playing the Wild, the Caps are the team I root for because of those two guys," Shuster said.

He also once did the "Let's Play Hockey" intro at Xcel Energy Center prior to a game after the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

"That was a blast, but this is something totally different," Shuster said. "The outdoor game? Are you kidding me? No way did they ask us to come do this. It's amazing."

The curlers arrived in Annapolis after being on NBC's "Today Show" earlier Saturday. They were on NBC's "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon" Friday after ringing the opening bell at the New York Stock Exchange in the morning.

Hamilton and George were also part of a preshow spoof at an off-Broadway production of "The Play That Goes Wrong" on Friday.

"Awesome day," Shuster said.

"Living on cloud nine right now," Hamilton said.

They were even recognized on the streets of New York City. Multiple times.

"We could not walk a block without somebody saying thank you or asking if they could take a picture," Shuster said. "It was unbelievable. I can't even explain it."

He probably never will be able to, but eventually the curlers know the hype will die down and the celebration will end. When it does, they'll likely go back to their day jobs -- Shuster works at Dick's Sporting Goods, George manages a liquor store in Duluth, Minnesota, Landsteiner works for an engineering company, Hamilton is a technician for Spectrum Brands.

But they hope the opportunities like the one they had Saturday will never go away.

"Honestly, we just want to keep sharing our sport with the American public," Shuster said. "It's a special sport and people are latching on. You're seeing curling clubs forming all over the country."

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