KINGSTON, Ont. – Brad Gushue thinks the future is plenty bright for Saskatchewan skip Matt Dunstone.

"There's no doubt in my mind he is going to win one and probably multiple [Brier championships] over the course of his career...he’s that good,” said Gushue. “Hopefully he keeps his head held up high. This is going to sting for a couple days…we got a star on our hands in the future for curling in Canada.”

The 24-year-old prairie sharpshooter finished off a wild week at the 2020 Tim Hortons Brier with a 7-6 semi-final loss to Gushue’s Newfoundland and Labrador rink Sunday afternoon.

In just his second Brier appearance and first as a skip, Dunstone and his Regina rink of Braeden Moskowy, Catlin Schneider, and Dustin Kidby were the most surprising team in Kingston as Saskatchewan made the Brier playoffs for just the fourth time in 20 years against one of the best fields in history.

The two-time Canadian junior champ became a star with a handful of late-game heroics and energetic celebrations. Dunstone said it was obviously a successful showing big picture-wise at the Canadian championship.

“In the grand scheme of things, it was a hard fought, heck of a week from us,” said the Winnipeg native after the loss. “To play championship Sunday at the Brier is pretty darn cool and I’m proud of the guys.”

 Still, he thought this day was going to end differently.

“It’s tough. You come so close. I woke up this morning thinking we were going to be Brier champions,” said an emotional Dunstone.

Saskatchewan got off to a slow start, dropping their opener to Wild Card before going down early to New Brunswick. They battled back to win that one, the first of six in a row to secure a solid spot in the championship round. After losing to Alberta and Northern Ontario on Thursday, Dunstone turned things around with victories over Manitoba and Newfoundland to punch a ticket to the page playoff 1 vs. 2 game.

Dunstone said it feels like they’ve been here for “three weeks” given the exhausting nature of the tournament.

“The week definitely had its up-and-down and little things that didn’t go our way, but to make a final four in a field like this, you got to have those things go your way,” he said.

Saskatchewan hasn’t won the Brier Tankard since 1980 when Rick Folk accomplished the feat. Dunstone and company might be the province’s best chance at ending the drought in a very long time.

“We have it in us to be Brier champions. There’s no doubt about that,” said Dunstone. “We beat some great teams this week. We lost to some great teams this week. At the end of the day we were two wins away.”

The skip, who lives in Kamloops, BC, as the team’s out-of-province curler, gave major praise to coach Adam Kingsbury after the loss.

“We don’t come back in a couple games without him,” Dunstone said of Kingsbury, who was brought on this season to help with the mental side of the game. “We don’t battle nearly as hard without him. Getting over this loss is going to be easier with him.”

Team Dunstone still have a few Grand Slam events to play this season with the Players’ Championship in Toronto and the Champions Cup in Olds, Alberta. They won the Masters earlier this season, Dunstone’s first Grand Slam title.