After a great start to the season, Matt Dunstone and his Fort Rouge foursome will be the top seed when the Viterra Championship begins next week in Neepawa.
Team Dunstone, with third B.J. Neufeld, second Colton Lott and lead Ryan Harnden, was voted as the favourite to win the Manitoba men’s provincial bonspiel by the rest of the curlers in the field.
Reid Carruthers (Morris) is seeded second, Ryan Wiebe (Fort Rouge) is third, Corey Chambers (Fort Garry) is ranked fourth, and Braden Calvert (Fort Rouge) rounds out the top five.
After curling out of Saskatchewan for the last several years, it’s Dunstone’s first appearance at the Manitoba men’s curling championship since 2017. Dunstone was a finalist in 2016 as a junior, losing in the championship game to Mike McEwen.
In his first year with the newly formed foursome, Dunstone is the number-two-ranked team in Canada in the CTRS – Curling Canada’s team ranking system. They’ve won two bonspiels and qualified for the playoffs at three of the four Grand Slam of Curling events.
McEwen, the defending champion, is not taking part in the playdowns after winning the Ontario men’s tankard on the weekend to represent that province at the Brier.
Reid Carruthers and his third Derek Samagalski, who both won with McEwen last year, will try to defend the title.
Team Carruthers dumped Jason Gunnlaugson earlier in the season, and his lineup now includes Samagalski, Connor Njegovan and Matt Lorenz.
Carruthers is seeking an eighth provincial men’s championship. He captured his first three with Jeff Stoughton and won as a skip in 2015 and 2018, before winning as third for McEwen in 2019 and 2022.
It’s the third time Neepawa is hosting the men’s provincials after Stoughton won on both previous occasions.
The first draw is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. at the Yellowhead Community Recreation Centre on Feb. 8.