Team Dunstone gets it done!

Team Dunstone, from left, Matt Dunstone, Kirk Muyres, Dustin Kidby and Braeden Moskowy celebrate their win on Thursday. (Photo, Curling Canada/Claudette Bockstael)

Team Dunstone back on winning track in Ottawa

An opening-night loss to Team Glenn Howard was disappointing, to be sure, but Team Matt Dunstone refused to let it affect them at the Canadian Curling Trials Direct-Entry Event at the RA Centre in Ottawa.

Dunstone and his mates from the Highland Curling Club in Regina — vice-skip Braeden Moskowy, second Kirk Muyres, lead Dustin Kidby and coach Adam Kingsbury — went into grind mode in the wake of the loss, and it paid off on Thursday afternoon with an 8-5 win over Team Mike McEwen of Winnipeg, a result that left both teams with 1-1 records in the five-team round-robin standings.

“Big one,” said Dunstone, a bronze-medallist at the past two editions of the Tim Hortons Brier, presented by AGI. “We had a really good second half today; kind of controlled that second half. So after a late-night game, to bounce back the way we did today, I’m really proud of the guys for doing that. It’s not an easy thing to do. Hopefully this is just the start of the snowball going down the hill for us.”

Against Team Howard, Dunstone and Co. trailed most of the way but still made things interesting at the end before falling short 9-5.

“We didn’t have our ‘A’ game by any stretch of the imagination last night, and we still had a shot to win,” said Dunstone. “It’s about going out there and being grinders; even when you don’t have your best game, it’s about being tough to beat. That’s what we took away from (the loss to Howard). We figured if we could find our B-plus, A game here, we’re going to give ourselves a good chance at the end of the week. And that’s what we did today.”

They did indeed; Team Dunstone was down 4-3 after five ends, but ramped it up in the second half, tying it with a single in the sixth, stealing one in the seventh, forcing Team McEwen to one in the eighth, and then closing out with a deuce in the ninth thanks to Dunstone’s delicate tap on a partially buried McEwen stone, and then a steal in the 10th.

“It was about getting a feel for that ice, and we were still doing that five ends into the game today,” said Dunstone of his team’s discussion at the fifth-end break. “It was just about having that full confidence in what the ice was giving us. And we executed that very well in the back half.”

Playing events in September isn’t anything new for most teams, but playing them with this much at stake — two men’s teams from the Trials Direct-Entry event will advance directly to the Tim Hortons Curling Trials, presented by AGI, in Saskatoon, where Canada’s four-player Olympic teams will be decided — is something new.

“I wish I could say the mindset wasn’t different (than a normal early-season event), but I’d be a liar then,” said Dunstone. “It’s not very often that you get to play in a high-stakes event in September. It’s definitely a different preparation process to get here and to be where we needed to be for this event this early in the year.”

In the other men’s Trials Direct-Entry game, Team Jason Gunnlaugson (Morris, Man.) won its opener, 8-4 over Team Colton Flasch (0-1; Saskatoon).

Skip Vincent Roberge takes aim during his team’s win. (Photo, Curling Canada/Claudette Bockstael)

In men’s Pre-Trials Direct-Entry action, Team Vincent Roberge (Etchemin, Que.) moved into the A-event final of the triple-knockout competition with an 8-4 win over Team Shaun Meachem (Swift Current, Sask.). Team Roberge will meet Team Corey Chambers (Winnipeg), who won its A-event semifinal 7-1 over Team JT Ryan (Winnipeg).

In the lone women’s Pre-Trials Direct-Entry game, Team Jessie Hunkin (North Battleford, Sask.) advanced to the A-event final with an 11-2 pasting of Team Laurie St-Georges (Laval-sur-le-Lac/Glenmore, Que.). Team Hunkin will meet Team Kerry Galusha in the A final.

The Canadian Trials and Pre-Trials Direct Entry events continue on Thursday with draws at 4 p.m. and 8 p.m. (all times ET)

Friday, draws are scheduled for 8 a.m., noon, 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

Live scoring and standings for the events are available here.

Live streaming for all draws is available on Curling Canada’s YouTube page.

This story will be published in French as soon as possible here.

Curling Canada