Dunstone and Bottcher winless at trials while Jacobs, Gushue, McEwen are unbeaten

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SASKATOON — Matt Dunstone tried to keep his dissatisfaction in check as his winless team toiled through another loss Monday at Canada's Olympic curling trials.

When he walked through the dark curtain near the end boards at SaskTel Centre after a 10-3 defeat to Kevin Koe, the frustration finally boiled over.

Dunstone smacked his broom on the concrete floor so hard that the head flew off. The young skip then took a few questions from reporters knowing the main theme would be that his 0-3 start left him a longshot to make the playoffs.

"It can only go up," Dunstone said of his record. "We're doing a lot of the right things out there. We just have to make a couple more in key situations."

The partisan crowd, announced at 8,217, did its best to cheer on the lone Saskatchewan-based team in the field.

A brilliant runback double-takeout for a deuce brought the crowd to life in the third end but the game turned on a picked stone in the fifth that left Koe with a takeout to score four.

"We're not really catching any breaks right now to say the least," Dunstone said. "We're doing a lot of good things. We're really close on absolutely everything."

Dunstone threw at a 61-per cent clip, by far the lowest percentage of the eight players.

His rink, still adjusting to the addition of Colton Lott at third after Braeden Moskowy's withdrawal on the eve of the competition, shot 83 per cent overall. Koe's team finished at 92 per cent.

Kirk Muyres, Dunstone's second, was feeling more optimistic because he could feel that progression was being made despite the lopsided score line.

"The tide is kind of turning a little bit," he said. "Of course it didn't work today, but against this team you could play 95 per cent and still lose."

Brendan Bottcher's team was left with the same 0-3 record after dropping a 5-2 decision to Brad Jacobs. Bottcher won the national men's championship last season but has yet to get on track at this event.

Bottcher's third, Darren Moulding, fought back tears shortly after starting his media availability.

"It's disappointing," he said before pausing for several seconds. "We'll be all right. We'll be fine. We're not out of it but we've got to find something. We're going to have to probably win out.

"I still think we can do it but right now we're just not playing good enough to win here."

Brad Gushue stole a single in the 10th end for an 8-6 win over John Epping to join Jacobs in first place at 3-0. Mike McEwen was next at 2-0 after routing Jason Gunnlaugson 11-2.

Koe was alone in fourth place at 2-1 and the idle Tanner Horgan was in fifth spot at 1-1. Epping fell to 1-2 while Gunnlaugson (0-2) remained winless with Dunstone and Bottcher.

"We're in trouble, there's no doubt about it," Moulding said. "We've just got to find a way to just get a win and go from there."

In the evening, Jennifer Jones and Tracy Fleury earned wins to keep their unbeaten records intact. Jones (4-0) beat Casey Scheidegger 7-5 and Fleury (3-0), who shot 100 per cent, dumped Krista McCarville 9-2.

Vice-skip Kate Cameron was not in the lineup for Laura Walker's 9-5 loss to Kerri Einarson due to an unspecified illness. Her symptoms are not believed to be related to COVID-19, Curling Canada said in a statement.

Cameron and her teammates were given COVID-19 rapid tests earlier in the day and all players tested negative, the federation said. Erin Pincott replaced Cameron in the lineup.

Rachel Homan got in the win column with a 9-6 victory over Kelsey Rocque. Jacqueline Harrison, who had the night off, was alone in third place at 2-1.

Einarson improved to 2-2 and Homan was 1-2. Walker and McCarville slipped to 1-3, and Rocque fell to 0-3.

Cameron was slated to be given a PCR test on Tuesday, an off-day for her team.

Round-robin play continues through Friday evening. Finals are scheduled for Sunday with the winning teams to represent Canada at the Feb. 4-20 Beijing Games.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 22, 2021.

Gregory Strong, The Canadian Press

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