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Dunstone rebounds with win over Mouat at Princess Auto Players’ Championship

TORONTO — You can’t fault Formula One fan Matt Dunstone for using a racing analogy to describe his rebound in the Princess Auto Players’ Championship.

The Canadian skip said he’s now in the “driver’s seat” after getting back on track shooting a perfect 100 per cent en route to a 6-1 victory over Scotland’s Bruce Mouat on Thursday afternoon at Mattamy Athletic Centre.

Team Dunstone moved up to a 2-1 round-robin record thanks to a sharp turnaround from their skip, who had fired at a 60 per cent clip in a 6-2 loss to Switzerland’s Yannick Schwaller on Wednesday night.

Dunstone is also firmly in the mix for the Pinty’s Cup, entering the event sitting fifth in the standings and just on the outside looking in for a bonus awarded to the top four teams.

“Obviously, a huge game, a big difference between 2-1 and 1-2,” Dunstone said. “It kind of puts us back in the driver’s seat. I was quite sloppy last night myself, so it’s nice to clean it up a bit today and a really strong game from the guys right from the start.”

The Winnipeg-based club earned silver medals at the Brier last month and lead Ryan Harnden also grabbed silver at the world men’s curling championship this past Sunday while serving as the alternate for Brad Gushue.

Dunstone, who lives in Kelowna, B.C., said he hasn’t been able to practise too much lately as the ice was already taken out from his club.

“The guys got to throw a little bit more and Ryan was at worlds behind the glass watching there, but it was a nice little break,” Dunstone said. “Just getting back into the flow of things this time of the year, it’s always a little bit slower, a little bit less practise but always nice to be back competing at our favourite event of the year.”

Dunstone also said it’s pretty cool to see the class of the 2016 world juniors including himself, Mouat, Schwaller, Norway’s Magnus Ramsfjell, Korey Dropkin of the United States, Sweden’s Rasmus Wranå and others rising to the top and competing in these ranks.

“I wish it was a little bit easier then, we could have picked up a world junior title,” said Dunstone, who earned the bronze medal at the 2016 world juniors. “It’s quite amazing, that whole class, to have probably six or seven teams from our world juniors currently mainstays in the Slams and having plenty of success.

“It’s great and I think that’s all why we’re as good as we are is because we’ve been able to battle it out against each other for what feels like a decade now. To kind of grow together and those guys push me every day to get better. They’re all phenomenal curlers, work so hard at the game and if you take a little bit of a step off, they’re going to snare you.”

Dunstone opened with the hammer but was forced to hit for just a single in the first end.

After Mouat blanked the second, the third end turned in a disaster for the recently crowned world champion. Facing four counters, Mouat’s draw rolled heavy to the back of the 12-foot circle to fall behind 5-0.

“You just put as much pressure on the other team as you can,” Dunstone said. “That’s a shot Bruce makes nine out of 10 times and obviously, today was the one time. You’re playing the world champs, so regardless of how they’re playing, you’ve got to come out and play your game or they’re going to beat you every time.”

Mouat was forced again in the fourth, facing three this time, but his rock rolled right into the four-foot circle to get on the scoreboard.

Dunstone replied on target with another single in the fifth to re-establish the five-point hold, and Mouat (0-3) shook hands after blanking the sixth.

Sweden’s Niklas Edin also improved to a 2-1 record with an 8-3 win over Canada’s Brendan Bottcher (1-2).

It was a rematch but not a repeat of January’s Co-op Canadian Open men’s final where Bottcher topped Edin 5-3 to win his fourth career Grand Slam title.

In women’s play, South Korea’s Eun-Ji Gim (2-1) earned a 6-5 win over Sweden’s Anna Hasselborg (1-2) and Switzerland’s Silvana Tirinzoni vs. Sweden’s Isabella Wranå.


Round-robin play continues at 3:30 p.m. ET / 12:30 p.m. PT with broadcast coverage on Sportsnet, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).

Tickets are available at the box office and online at

NOTES: The Princess Auto Players’ Championship features 12 of the top men’s teams and 12 of the top women’s teams from around the world based on the World Curling Federation’s year-to-date world team rankings. … Round-robin play runs through to Friday. The best six teams overall qualify for Saturday’s playoffs with the top two receiving byes to the semifinals. Both finals are scheduled for Sunday. … The Pinty’s Cup will also be awarded to the season champions in the series during the event.