Matt Dunstone was here last year, one victory away from the final at the Tim Hortons Brier.
The 25-year-old Kamloops resident who skips Team Saskatchewan (9-3) was asked if anything feels different this time around, with his rink slated to square off against Brendan Bottcher and Alberta (9-3) at 11:30 a.m. on Sunday in Calgary.
“I feel really calm right now,” Dunstone told KTW on Saturday night. “I’m pretty at peace with everything that’s gone on and what could go on. That’s kind of been our motto all week, being at peace with what could happen because you can go out and play super well and still lose in a field like this. Just very happy.”
Kevin Koe and his powerhouse Wild Card 2 rink will play the winner of the semifinal in the title tilt, which is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Sunday.
"We [Team Dunstone] just want to be the best and we work toward that every single day,” Dunstone said. “Everything we’ve done over the last year, two years, is just to put ourselves in this sort of position. If you do it enough times, it’s going to be your turn at some point."
The Brier champion will receive $100,000, a berth into the Tim Hortons Curling Trials and the right to represent Canada at the 2021 OK Tire & BKT Tires World Men’s Curling Championship, which gets underway on April 2 in Calgary.
Second- and third-place finishes at the Brier are worth $60,000 and $40,000, respectively.
Saskatchewan has not tasted victory at the Brier since Rick Folk sipped from the Tankard in 1980.
Third Braeden Moskowy, second Kirk Muyres and lead Dustin Kidby round out Team Dunstone, which fell 7-6 to Newfoundland and Labrador (Brad Gushue) in the 2020 Brier semifinal in Kingston.
“To be that close is heartbreaking and it’s going to sting for a long time,” Moskowy said after the loss. “It’s probably something you never do quite get over until you maybe win one. Hopefully, that day is sooner rather than later for us.”
Added Dunstone, speaking to KTW on the trip home from Kingston: “You come so close. Woke up this morning thinking we are going to be Brier champions, so ... You get a taste of it and you wish it was happening again tomorrow. We have it in us to be Brier champions. There is no doubt about that.”
Dunstone and Moskowy will wake up this morning with an opportunity to exorcise those demons and etch their names into Canadian curling history, but they must first vanquish a formidable opponent in Bottcher, runner-up at the Brier in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Saskatchewan got the better of Alberta on Friday in Championship Pool action, establishing an early lead and holding on to win 8-7.
“Nothing but respect for those boys,” Dunstone said. “They’re one of the best teams in the world. We love competing with them. We love battling with them."