The story has been told, retold and packaged into an instantaneous little piece of curling lore.
It’s the tale of Colton Lott, that Wednesday-night phone call, and the hasty haircut from his mother.
It’s fast packing, a 7:40 a.m. flight, a wide-eyed stroll into Canada’s biggest curling event. Lott pulled on a green shirt, and found fast affinity with the masked folks sitting in their sections at SaskTel Centre.
“Playing in front of the fans, especially in this big an arena, it’s … it’s just the best,” says Lott, a late — very late — replacement for Matt Dunstone’s third Braeden Moskowy, who pulled out of the Tim Hortons Canadian Olympic curling trials for reasons termed ‘personal.’
“This is so nice, being able to throw stones and make shots and hear the crowd roaring.”
But there’s a wrinkle, of course: Dunstone’s team is 0-2 after weekend play.
They lost 7-2 to Mike McEwen on Saturday night, and 7-6 to Brad Jacobs on Sunday. That, too, is part of their story as they struggle to establish footing in a monster of a field.
Dunstone’s foursome — plus Lott, minus Moskowy — is, by default, the home-town team at these trials. They’re the only squad to call Saskatchewan home. Regina is their base, and the loudest cheers at SaskTel Centre are for them.
They’re Team Saskatchewan, without the name.
“I’ve never fully experienced being the home team,” Lott — a national junior champion with Dunstone back in the day — said this weekend. “And it’s just wonderful.”
Lott, playing third, is not the reason for Saskatchewan’s sub-par start. He curled 90 per cent on Sunday; 91 per cent on Saturday.
After Saturday’s loss to McEwen, Dunstone said Lott was “the best player on the sheet tonight, outside of Mikey.”
On Sunday, Dunstone absorbed the blame: His teammates were playing very well, he said. Making shots. Providing opportunities.
“You’ve got to be good for 10 ends,” Dunstone said, “and I was good for five. That’s not going to cut it.”
Saskatchewan’s first deuce at the trials didn’t come until its 17th end of the weekend, when they hit a pair in the ninth to close the gap against Jacobs to 7-5.
Jacobs shot 94 per cent, Dunstone 81 per cent, and now Team Saskatchewan — they’re not officially that, but we’ll go with it — requires a rebound just as fast as their personnel switch. They play Kevin Koe (who is 1-1) Monday at 2 p.m., and nobody — save, perhaps, the world’s most committed masochist — wants to start 0-3 at the Olympic trials.
Dunstone and Brendan Bottcher are the only squads in the nine-team field with 0-2 records. Conversely, Jacobs and Brad Gushue are 2-0.
“Honestly, I’m not going to lose too much sleep over it,” said Kirk Muyres, Dunstone’s second. “That’s the way it goes sometimes. We all know curling can be like that. You’ve just got to hang in there through those moments and give yourself a chance later in the week. I think we’ll be able to do that.”
Six games remain on Dunstone’s schedule, and the guys in the story are in trouble already, just a couple of chapters in.
But they’ve also shown a penchant for big plot twists, so we’ll see where Monday takes them.
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