Mouat, Dunstone, Gushue move onto Co-op Canadian Open quarterfinals
CAMROSE, Alta. — Scotland’s Team Bruce Mouat, Winnipeg’s Team Matt Dunstone and Team Brad Gushue of St. John’s, N.L., advanced to the Co-op Canadian Open playoffs from the B-side of the triple knockout round.
Mouat made it past Team Korey Dropkin from the United States 4-3, Dunstone defeated Scotland’s Team Ross Whyte 5-2 and Gushue grabbed a 6-5 win over Italy’s Team Joël Retornaz during Draw 14 Friday afternoon.
All three winners enter Saturday’s quarterfinals with 3-1 records. Dunstone awaits one of the C-qualifiers while Mouat and Gushue will meet each other.
“I’m very excited to be back in the playoffs again,” said Mouat, who is coming off of a runner-up finish in last month’s WFG Masters in Oakville, Ont. “Obviously had to a good run in Oakville. The last time we were here in 2018 we didn’t qualify, so it’s really nice to get into the playoffs in this arena.”
Tied 3-all, Mouat had to make a peach of a draw with the last rock of the game against three counters and grabbed a bite of the button.
“I didn’t think I was going to have to do that as close to the button,” Mouat said with a smile. “Obviously, very nice to make it. It was a good team shot, probably the best way to finish the game.”
After a slow start to the season with second Bobby Lammie nursing a broken hand, Team Mouat is in mid-season form and shot a sharp 93 per cent in the match. Third Grant Hardie playing a perfect 100 per cent.
“We’re feeling pretty good, we’re obviously back to what our usual is,” Mouat said. “It’s just nice to have all of us healthy and playing well again because we didn’t start the season off too well. Climbing the rankings and playing some good curling.”
Meanwhile, it was a make-or-break fifth end for Dunstone, who had to pull off a double takeout and send his shooter out the back in order to blank and retain the hammer. That boosted Team Dunstone to play a strong sixth stanza capped with a draw to the button for three points and a 4-2 lead.
“We were in a lot of trouble in that end,” Team Dunstone third B.J. Neufeld said. “Matt made a really good runback on his first just to be able to give us a chance to maybe play something for a blank. If we give up a steal to go two down, it’s not the end of the world and if you get the blank there, especially with the way the end was going, we definitely got some momentum from that.
“So, two total pistols from Matty, that really changed the game around. We took that momentum into the sixth end, played a really good end and took control of the game from there.”
Dunstone stole one in the seventh to build the three-point advantage and Whyte ran out of options, and rocks, in the eighth.
“It’s good. I think the way it works, we’ll get hammer in our first playoff game, so that’s always nice to have,” Neufeld said. “These spiels are harder and harder to get to the playoffs, so any time you can get your spot in that final eight, you’re feeling pretty good and probably playing pretty good.”
Team Dunstone has had a stellar first half in its first season together winning two titles on tour and reaching the finals in three other events including the HearingLife Tour Challenge.
“It’s been awesome, it’s exceeded my expectations,” said Neufeld, who previously played with skip Kevin Koe and won the Brier in 2019. “I knew the other three guys pretty well, so I had a feeling it was going to work but you never really know until you get playing and battling.
“I think we’re just having a lot of fun. I’ve had a tremendous amount of fun this year playing with these guys. … I haven’t been the oldest guy on the team before. They’re making me feel a bit younger, so it’s a lot of fun. It’s been a blast. It’s obviously a bonus that we’re getting some wins and playing well.”
Teams must win three games before they lose three in the triple knockout. Dropkin, Whyte and Retornaz — now with 2-2 records — have one last chance to qualify through Friday night’s C-qualifiers.
Dropkin plays Winnipeg’s Team Reid Carruthers, Retornaz takes on Team Tanner Horgan from Sudbury, Ont., and Whyte faces Switzerland’s Team Yannick Schwaller, who eliminated Calgary’s Team Kevin Koe 6-3 in a C-semifinal matchup during Draw 14.
The Co-op Canadian Open continues with Draw 15 at 6:30 p.m. ET / 4:30 p.m. local time on Sportsnet ONE and Sportsnet NOW (Canada) or Yare (international).
Single draw tickets plus full-event, weekend and daily passes are available at the Encana Arena box office and online at camrosegsoc.goigniter.com.
NOTES: The Co-op Canadian Open is the fourth event of the Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling season with 16 of the top men’s teams and 16 of the top women’s teams from around the world at Encana Arena. … Triple knockout action runs through to Saturday morning. … The quarterfinal draws are scheduled for Saturday afternoon followed by the semifinals in the evening. Both finals are set for Sunday.