Undefeated Dunstone, Bottcher clinch byes to KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup semis
REGINA — Matt Dunstone and Brendan Bottcher have already booked their spots in the KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup semifinals.
Both Canadian clubs finished their round-robin schedules with unblemished 5-0 records to secure byes to the final four as the top two teams in the men’s division.
Dunstone fended off Italy’s Joël Retornaz 8-7 while Bottcher beat John Shuster from the United States 5-4 Friday afternoon in the penultimate draw of pool play.
It’s the first time Dunstone has gone 5-0 through the round-robin in a Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournament.
“It feels really good,” Dunstone said. “Today we struggled the most, for sure. The ice was a little bit different than it was this morning, didn’t quite catch on to it but found a way to pull out a victory. We made some shots when we had to.
“It feels really good now to have the break until 8 p.m. tomorrow night. To be able to play in Saskatchewan on the weekend, Saturday night, we both know how that’s going to go. I’m pretty excited to see what tomorrow is going to bring.”
Team Retornaz third Amos Mosaner apologized for making a fluke shot during the fourth end that resulted in a triple takeout and set up a deuce plus a 4-3 lead.
“The happy accident I guess but that happens,” Dunstone said. “That’s just the way it goes. We’ve had our fair share of those this season as well. It is what it is. You’ve got to park it quickly and get back to business.”
Dunstone regrouped for the following end making the shot of the game — and possibly the tournament — with an insane angle raise double takeout to score three critical points and pull back ahead 6-4.
The 2019 Masters champion Dunstone is leaving it all on the line for the season finale and treated this game like it was the quarterfinals.
“Our draw was quite awful this week, so we knew 4-1 wasn’t going to get us into the semifinals,” Dunstone said. “We knew we had to win that one. Those are fun little shots to play. I wasn’t quite sure if it was there for two or three, almost hung it on for four, but to pick up a deuce, even three there, was pretty big in that moment.
“Any time you go out, regardless of record, you’re going out to win the game. That’s the way this team always plays and we fight each and every game. I would expect nothing less out of this group.”
Retornaz drew for a deuce in the sixth to tie it up, but Dunstone made a bump and roll in the seventh to reclaim the two-point advantage.
Although that handed the hammer over to Retornaz for the final frame, his last shot to potentially score a tying two points to force an extra end came up short.
Retornaz and Shuster hold identical 2-3 records and now have their fingers crossed for tiebreakers pending the results of the evening draw.
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For Bottcher, a score of three points in the second end gave his team a 3-1 lead and they never trailed again.
“Definitely the three in the second was big,” Bottcher said. “I think from that moment on we dictated the scoreboard and were able to play a draw out tied coming home, which is really all you can ask for.”
Even though Bottcher had already qualified for the playoffs, it was still key to get the win with more at stake.
“Especially in these tournaments where two teams get sent ahead, you get hammer, there’s a lot on the line even though you’re 4-0,” Bottcher said. “It was good to come out here today and sew up that last win.”
Elsewhere, Sweden’s Niklas Edin clinched a playoff spot with a 4-1 record following a 7-2 win over Canada’s Kelly Knapp (0-5).
South Korea’s Eun-Ji Gim defeated Canada’s Clancy Grandy 7-5 in the lone women’s match on the draw. Both teams are through to the playoffs with 3-2 records.
Round-robin wraps up at the Co-operators Centre with Draw 15 at 8 p.m. local time (10 p.m. ET).
Watch live on Sportsnet One, Sportsnet NOW (Canada) and Yare (international).
The KIOTI Tractor Champions Cup is the sixth and final Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling event of the season featuring 12 men’s teams and 12 women’s teams. … Both divisions are split into two pools of six teams for round-robin play. The best six teams overall qualify for Saturday’s quarterfinals with the top two receiving byes to the semifinals. … The finals are scheduled for Sunday.