NORTH BAY, Ont. — Matt Dunstone rode the steal train into work Friday at the Boost National, and his Winnipeg club’s next stop is the playoffs.
Dunstone stole a total of four points over the final three ends to secure a 7-4 victory over Reid Carruthers’s crew and qualify for the playoffs with a 3-1 round-robin record.
“It’s obviously nice to avoid the mess at 2-2 there,” Dunstone said. “I mean, by no stretch of the matter was it our best game today. We’re going to have a long chat, figure out some things, come out firing tomorrow and hopefully go and make a deep run.
“Obviously, it’s a pretty exciting place for me, so to be playing in the playoffs here again, it’s pretty awesome stuff. We’re heading back, going to watch the Jays playoff game, watch a bit of the curling tonight, just talk about today’s game and try and sharpen up for tomorrow.”
The sheriff is back in town and on duty as Dunstone returns to the scene where he won his first Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling title at the 2019 Masters.
“I still get goosebumps thinking about it,” Dunstone said with a smile. “To play the top 15, 16 teams in the world and come out on top is a pretty special thing. It was pretty cool stepping into this arena again, kinda taking a look around and you just get those instant memories back of that game and what that whole event was like. Hopefully, we can do it again in the next 48 hours here.”
Carruthers, who also plays out of Winnipeg, finished with the opposite record and was eliminated from contention at 1-3. The two skips go way back as Carruthers served as Dunstone’s instructor in curling camp some 20 years ago.
“We’re probably close to in the hundreds now for battles since then,” Dunstone said. “It’s pretty cool we’ve had this friendship for as long as we’ve had and definitely someone I’ve looked up to. It’s always nice when you’re able to come out on top because he’s a great player, so it’s not easy to do.”
Things started out fine for Team Carruthers. Second Derek Samagalski won the draw-to-the-button shootout for the hammer to start, and Carruthers converted to score a deuce in the opening end. Carruthers sat a pair in the second, but Dunstone was able to nose-hit them out far enough to count a couple of points of his own and tie it up 2-2.
Dunstone faced a triangle of trouble in the fourth end but managed to make a cross-house double takeout to limit the damage. Carruthers drew for two and a 4-2 advantage.
After Dunstone was forced to a single in the fourth, he stole two for the lead in the fifth when Carruthers wrecked on his last shot.
The trouble continued as Carruthers was looking to score big in the sixth, but his shooter rolled right by Dunstone’s shot rock to hand over another stolen point and trail 6-4.
Carruthers needed a desperation manoeuvre in the eighth end to keep the game — and his team’s playoff chances — alive, but he had to make a double raise takeout to score the equalizing two. It didn’t work out as Carruthers peeled out his own instead and left Dunstone’s shot rock untouched to tack another stolen point on the board.
Meanwhile, Niklas Edin and his Swedish squad posted a perfect 4-0 record through round-robin play after scoring four points in the seventh end to defeat Michael Brunner’s Swiss side 9-5. Team Brunner will have their fingers crossed as they’re now at 2-2.
Scotland’s Team Whyte scored three in the eighth to earn a 7-6 walk-off win over Switzerland’s Team Schwaller and play the spoiler. Both Ross Whyte and Yannick Schwaller’s squads are heading home early by finishing with 1-3 records.
Team Dropkin of the United States scored three in the seventh to power past Scotland’s Team Mouat 5-3 and into the playoffs. Korey Dropkin’s club from Duluth, Minn., advanced at 3-1 while Bruce Mouat’s team was bounced out of the tournament at 1-3.
Round-robin play runs through to Friday as teams play four games against teams outside of their pool. The top eight overall, regardless of pools, advance to Saturday afternoon’s quarterfinals. The semifinals are set for Saturday evening and both finals are on tap for Sunday.
The Boost National is the first of six events on the 2022-23 Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling calendar and features 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world. … A combined $300,000 purse, split equally between the men’s and women’s divisions, is on the line. The winning teams receive $35,000 and invitations to the season-ending Kioti Tractor Champions Cup. … Points are also up for grabs in the race for the Pinty’s Cup, which is awarded to the 2022-23 season champions with a $75,000 bonus for the winning teams.