Matt Dunstone forms new Saskatchewan-based curling team

Matt Dunstone delivers a stone for Team Laycock during the 2017 Masters in Lloydminster, Sask. (Anil Mungal)

Two-time Canadian junior champion Matt Dunstone is sticking around in Saskatchewan.

The 22-year-old from Winnipeg threw fourth stones for Saskatoon’s Steve Laycock this season and became a free agent when the team announced they were disbanding last month.

Instead of returning to his Manitoba roots, Dunstone is branching out again joining third Braeden Moskowy, second Catlin Schneider and lead Dustin Kidby in Regina.

Team Dunstone, which announced its formation Tuesday, is targetting the 2022 Winter Olympics like every other top team but is also aiming to bring an end to Saskatchewan’s lengthy dry spell at the Tim Hortons Brier. Rick Folk skipped Saskatchewan to its last Brier title in 1980.

“It’s been 38 years since Saskatchewan has won the Brier and especially for Dustin, Catlin and myself, being born and raised in Saskatchewan and still living here, that’s all you hear about and all anyone talks about when they talk curling with you,” Moskowy said. “We look at it almost like a little bit of a chip on our shoulder. We want nothing more than to be the guys who do that and to have Matty along with us chasing that, we couldn’t be happier. We have all the faith in the world in him throwing the fourth stones.

“I think him playing as Team Saskatchewan this year and in Regina, he got a good feel with how passionate the fans are in Saskatchewan here, how badly they want a winner and a team that they can get excited about, get behind and know every year these guys are going to give us a chance when they go to the Brier of winning the Brier. That’s our main goal. We want to be the team that ends the drought and bring the Brier back here to Saskatchewan, have a huge party and have some fun doing it.”

Moskowy’s desire to compete for his province was reignited at the Brier this year in his hometown. As Dunstone was receiving applause and ovations from the Regina crowd, Moskowy was wearing enemy colours as the third for Manitoba’s Reid Carruthers. The 27-year-old Moskowy also gained a lot of respect for Dunstone after watching how he carried himself during the tournament, especially at his age.

“Obviously his junior career speaks for itself but it’s a tough transition into men’s. I found that out my first couple years out of juniors trying to skip,” Moskowy said. “That’s a guy I’ve been talking to for a while, hoping that we could make something work and then it just kind of came together.”

Kidby, 32, and Schneider, 26, previously played together on Shaun Meachem’s team and represented Saskatchewan at the Brier last year.

Schneider spent this past season with John Morris’s crew based in Vernon, B.C., and like Moskowy was keen on competing in Saskatchewan once more.

“Catlin is a Regina guy too and he was back looking for a team, so that was one of our first calls,” Moskowy said. “Dustin Kidby is a guy I’ve played with my first couple years out of juniors and he’s maybe not quite as well known on the [Grand] Slam circuit but I think as far as players go in Saskatchewan, he’s one of the most well-respected leads as far as sweeping and shot-making goes. I really enjoyed my time playing with him, so that was a guy that was high on my list once it came down to picking a lead for this squad.”

While Moskowy expects there will be growing pains as there always are with new teams getting to know each other, he believes their prior history and experience will help ease the transition.

“It’s a young team but it’s not like putting together a young team just out of juniors,” Moskowy said. “All four of us have been to the Brier, all four have played in Grand Slams and won [World Curling Tour] events, so it’s a young team as far as average age goes but the experience is there.

“With Catlin playing with John Morris, Dustin playing in the Brier last year and Matty playing in the Brier this year and learning a lot with Steve and his team, it’s a team that’s even though we’re young on paper we know what it takes to get to the Brier and to be in the Grand Slams and compete in the Grand Slams, so that’s what I’m really looking forward to. We have lots of room to build but it’s with guys who know what it takes, what’s expected and how to do things the right way.”

Although Team Carruthers’ season isn’t over, Moskowy left the squad following the Brier and will miss the remaining two Pinty’s Grand Slam of Curling tournaments due to a fractured ankle. Moskowy played through the pain after sustaining the injury last year and is seeing a specialist later this week to determine the next course of action on the road to recovery.

“Obviously I would have loved to finish playing out this year but with the season going into May now — we’re a month out from the Brier here and I still don’t know exactly what’s going on — that would have taken me well into June,” Moskowy said. “Then by the time I get everything dealt with I might have been pushing it pretty tight for the start of next season.

“It sucks to be missing some Grand Slam events and to not be able to play out the remainder of the year but I’ve got to get this taken care of and be ready to go 110 percent for next year.”

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