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Dunstone edges Mouat in extra end to earn WFG Masters playoff spot

SASKATOON — It’s always a close one when Canada’s Matt Dunstone and Scotland’s Bruce Mouat meet in the Grand Slam of Curling, so why not raise the stakes with a win-or-go-home-for-the-holidays scenario when the two clashed in Friday’s round-robin finale at the WFG Masters.

The skips have been battling since the 2016 world juniors and it was Dunstone who emerged victorious during their latest chapter with a narrow 7-6 extra-end victory at Merlis Belsher Place.

Dunstone’s Winnipeg-based team advanced to the playoffs with a 3-1 record while Mouat wrapped up pool play at 2-2 and was eliminated from tiebreakers based on draw-to-the-button shootout totals.

“A huge win for us,” Dunstone said. “We needed this. We didn’t qualify in the last Slam there so we came in as a very motivated group.

“We had our backs against the walls early with the loss to Joël (Retornaz) there. I’m just really proud of the guys for battling back. The first couple ends didn’t go our way tonight but we made the shots when we had to. It feels great playing Saturday in Saskatchewan. I’m very excited about that.”

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Mouat (37.9 cm shootout total) finished third behind compatriots Team Ross Whyte (4.7 cm) and Sweden’s Team Niklas Edin (37.9 cm), who will square off in a tiebreaker for the eighth and final spot in the quarterfinals.

Dunstone couldn’t rely on the tiebreaker safety net either had he lost that game with a 63.7 cm shootout total.

“Our draw-to-the-button numbers were pretty high, so we knew it was win-or-go-home,” Dunstone said. “Almost take comfort in that. Last event we weren’t kind of sure if draw-to-the-button would send us home or not but to have that closure going into the game that we had to win that, it was actually nice.”

Dunstone opened with the hammer but fell behind 2-0 on the scoreboard early by conceding back-to-back single steals in the first couple ends. The 2019 Masters champion recovered in the third end drawing for a tying two points.

Mouat was forced to hit for a single in the fourth and Dunstone grabbed his first lead of the game in the fifth drawing for another deuce to go up 4-3.

The five-time Grand Slam title winner Mouat pulled ahead again in the sixth with an amazing angle raise that jostled the cluster of rocks near the button for two points.

After Dunstone made an open hit to count another couple in the seventh, Mouat attempted to angle in his guard and possibly score two for the win in the eighth but the raised rock rolled away and it was only an equalizing single to force the extra end.

Dunstone didn’t need to throw his last in the extra as he already had the pin covered and Mouat’s angle raise came up just a few inches short of making contact.

“There was a spot in the ice, the in-turn draw, that I had thrown a couple of times. That’s the shot I wanted and had won it one shot earlier than anticipated,” Dunstone said. “Bruce was damn close to making the shot he did. Lord only knows what we would have done if he made that but luckily he didn’t and we’re on to tomorrow.”

Mouat, second Bobby Lammie and lead Hammy McMillan Jr. were playing as a trio this week. Third Grant Hardie is recovering from minor surgery and was unable to make the trip overseas for the event.

Dunstone will now play Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller in the quarterfinals while Calgary’s Team Brendan Bottcher takes on Team Magnus Ramsfjell of Norway, Team Joël Retornaz from Italy faces Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers, and Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., awaits the tiebreaker winner between Whyte and Edin.

Gushue, Schwaller, Bottcher, Ramsfjell, Retornaz and Carruthers all ended pool play with 3-1 records.

Elsewhere Friday night, Retornaz beat Edin 7-5, Scotland’s Team Cameron Bryce beat Carruthers 7-3 and Scotland’s Team James Craik clipped Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe 7-5 in an extra end.

Bryce, Craik and Koe missed the cut with 1-3 records.

There will also be three women’s tiebreaker games: Sweden’s Team Isabella Wranå vs. Japan’s Team Satsuki Fujisawa, Sweden’s Team Anna Hasselborg vs. Team Delaney Strouse of the United States, and South Korea’s Team Eun-Jung Kim vs. Team Tabitha Peterson of the United States.

South Korea’s Team Eun-Ji Gim vs, Team Kerri Einarson of Gimli, Man., is the only women’s quarterfinal game set as Team Silvana Tirinzoni of Switzerland, Ottawa’s Team Rachel Homan, and Winnipeg’s Team Jennifer Jones will wait and see who comes out of the tiebreakers.


The tiebreaker draw goes down Saturday morning at 8 a.m. ET / 7 a.m. local time.

Broadcast coverage resumes with the women’s quarterfinals at 11:30 a.m. ET / 10:30 a.m. local time followed by the men’s quarterfinals at 3:30 p.m. ET / 2:30 p.m. local time. Watch both draws on Sportsnet East/Ontario/West, Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet+ (Canada) and (international).

The semifinals are schedule for 7:30 p.m. ET / 6:30 p.m. local time on Sportsnet ONE, Sportsnet+ (Canada) and (international).