If you are watching closely at this year’s Brier you will notice Saskatchewan representative Team Dunstone are wearing patches indicating their home club is the Wadena RE/MAX Curling Club.
Normally the team, led by Skip Matt Dunstone curls out of the Highland Club in Regina, but this is anything but a normal year thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In fact, Dunstone was simply appointed to represent Saskatchewan in Calgary over the next 10-days, a decision made by CurlSask, when provincial play downs were not possible to hold.
But, then Team Dunstone, including third Braeden Moskowy, second Kirk Muyres and lead Dustin Kidby needed a place to practice, the usual Highland Club being closed.
“Basically as soon as we were announced to represent Saskatchewan we started looking,” said Dunstone in an interview with Yorkton This Week March 4.
They didn’t have to look long.
“Dustin Mikush from Wadena reached out to me,” said Dunstone, telling the Saskatchewan skip they had ice and there was an opportunity to practice.
Dunstone said with only 10 curling clubs open in the province they took Mikush up on his offer.
The team got tested for COVID-19, and headed to Wadena. They took up residence in a house near the rink, and were handed keys to the rink.
“Dustin and Scott (Comfort) would go in and make the ice and about half an hour later we’d go practice,” said Dunstone, adding they were hitting the ice once, or twice a day for two weeks.
Dunstone said getting some actual ice time ahead of the Brier is important.
“We hadn’t been on the ice together since around the end of November,” he said, adding with the time in Wadena “we are feeling really good going into the Brier.”
It helped that the Wadena ice was great.
“It was awesome ... It was about as ‘arena-like’ as we could have hoped for,” said Dunstone.
So what do they expect in Calgary?
Well, Dunstone said they watched games from the recent Scotties, and are aware it will be different with no crowd.
“We’ll have to create our own energy out on the ice,” he said.
Of course no crowd means favourite teams such as Brad Gushue and Brad Jacobs won’t have a full house on their side either, noted the Saskatchewan skip.
The Canadian Men’s Curling Championships starts Friday in Calgary.
Saskatchewan hasn’t won a Brier since Rick Folk’s rink claimed the Tankard in 1980.