There's less than 24 hours to go before 15 of the best curling quartets in the country come to Estevan to throw rocks at houses in Affinity Place.
Among them will be Team Dunstone, skipped by Matt Dunstone of Winnipeg. He's joined by Braeden Moskowy, Catlin Schneider and Dustin Kidby, all from Regina and essentially taking on the mantle of 'Saskatchewan's team' at the nationally broadcast event.
"I kind of formed the team over the months of March, April May, sort of thing. Braeden and I started talking and just kind of figured out what kind of direction we wanted to go from there. Had two great guys in Catlin and Dustin on the market, so it was a no-brainer for us to grab them at the front end, and here we are," said Dunstone, who formerly curled with Steve Laycock, and was a two time junior champion before that. He was also with Laycock when they won the 2018 Sasktel Tankard in Estevan.
"Braeden played four years with Reid Carruthers, who's obviously a household name in the game today. Catlin, he spent last year with John Morris' team out of B.C, and the year before that he had actually gone to the Brier with Dustin, and they were the lead and third for Adam Casey (in 2017), so they have actually played together pretty recently. In the last couple years, Dustin's been playing with Casey. All three of those guys were relatively familiar with one another, being on Saskatchewan curling teams for as long as they have."
Simply put, our goal is to win...we want to win it for Estevan, Saskatchewan - Skip Matt Dunstone
Team Dunstone will face 14 other teams from across Canada on the soon-to-be-transformed ice in Affinity Place, and they have high aspirations.
"Looking at the field, clearly it's the best teams in Canada, so it's not going to be easy by any means. We've got to bring our best. Our expectation is to go out and win that thing, and we don't see any reason why we can't do that if we're playing some of our best curling. Simply put, our goal is to win it. Not only for us, we want to win it for Estevan, Saskatchewan. The big goal for us is just to get Saskatchewan completely back on the map with curling," stated Matt.
Their eyes are on more than just the Cup, however. It's been 38 years since a Saskatchewan team has taken the Brier title, and Dunstone has a plan to fix that.
"We haven't necessarily had a chance to sit down and talk about how we want to go about it, but we kind of have an idea of what we are doing when we're doing our best, and that's playing loose and just having fun with it. I think we can use the crowd to our advantage as well. I know, just from playing in the Brier last year, you love the feeling of getting the crowd pumped up...you feed off of it. Stay loose and stay in the moment, I think that's when we're at our best."
That being said, he pointed out one well known opponent in particular that Team Dunstone will have to get past to have a shot.
"The obvious one's got to be Brad Gushue. They are the best team, not only in Canada but in the world. It's not really a debate in my mind. That's definitely the team to beat, and I think we get them in our very first game, so that would be huge for us to start our week by going out and beating the best team in the world."
For Dunstone, however, there's more to the sport of curling than just the exhilaration of winning.
"You meet so many people on a personal level, whether it be in the social aspect of it or just talking to people at the club. You meet so many people with different stories that come from different places, and they're relationships that you hold on to for a long time. And it's people you end up curling with, down the road."
The stones begin to glide on Wednesday in Affinity Place, and the event concludes with a winner on Sunday.
"Saskatchewan fans are some of the best in the business when it comes to curling, so I sure do hope they can pack the house in Estevan," Dunstone added.