It was just the kind of start Matt Dunstone was hoping for as he took to the Farrell Agencies Arena curling ice today at the Meridian Canadian Open in Yorkton.
The Regina skip was taking on Niklas Edin of Sweden with the Dunstone crew jumping out to a 2-0 lead in the first end, then adding one in the second, two in the fifth and five more in the seventh before the Edin team said uncle – the final score 10-4 after seven ends.
“We needed that,” said Dunstone after the game, adding it was the sort of win he hopes the team can build on the rest of the week. “ ... It’s definitely step number one.”
So what was the key to a 10-point win for the team that includes Braeden Moskowy at third, Catlin Schneider at second and Dustin Kidby at lead?
“We saw what the ice was going to give us, and we believed it,” said Dunstone.
Trusting what you read in the ice is critical to success in curling, but Dunstone said it’s not always easy “to buy in what you’re seeing.”
Wednesday in Yorkton that meant recognizing the ice was fast.
“The fastest we’ve seen out there,” said Dunstone, adding “Saskatchewan’s minus-50” likely “had something to do with that.”
The ice was also running very straight, which can be a good thing if as a skip you accept that.
Dunstone said while he likes to think he can read ice “or I probably wouldn’t be skipping” lacking trust in what you are seeing has caused lots of teams to lose games.
It helps that the Dunstone team is something of a default favourite in Yorkton, being one of only two Saskatchewan teams; the other being the Muyres foursome from Saskatoon.
“We’ve definitely got the fan support,” offered Dunstone, adding it is always a positive to have the crowd on your side.
The Yorkton event is also being used as a tune-up by the Dunstone foursome with the Saskatchewan Tankard just around the corner, with the top 16 men’s teams in the province competing Jan. 29 – Feb. 2, in Melville.
“This is kind of a tune-up for us,” said Dunstone. “It puts an extra layer of importance on it (the Yorkton event).”
While the Yorkton event can be an opportunity to work on throws in front of the Tankard, the two events are significantly different in terms of how one approaches them.
“It’s a different animal,” Dunstone said of the upcoming Tankard. “It’s kind of all or nothing.”
The Meridian Canadian Open, as part of Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling is of course ultra-tough in terms of competition. Dunstone noted the tour attracts 15 or 16 of the best teams in the sport calling it the elite competition “on the planet”.
But you can finish second in Yorkton and take home something. At the Tankard only the winner goes to the national stage to represent Saskatchewan.
Dunstone said his team wants to be that team in 2020.
“It’s 100 per cent number one for us,” he said.
Dunstone also realizes it has been a while since a Saskatchewan team has topped the field nationally; Kronau’s Amber Holland in 2011. The drought on the men’s side goes back to 1980 when the Rick Folk rink from Saskatoon won.
“Curling’s still more than alive and well (in the province),” assured Dunstone, but added Saskatchewan’s curlers are keenly aware another championship is due.
The Regina rink feels ready to take up the challenge, adding they have a rather simple philosophy right now. “We’re really focused on what makes us good,” he said, adding that means playing their game and going with what the ice tells them.
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