Last rock costs Stoughton

KIRK PENTON -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:08 AM ET

Jeff Stoughton picked up a fistful of points in the first end last night, and it looked like that would be enough to win.

When it was all over, however, the Winnipeg curler probably felt as if he had been punched in the stomach.

Stoughton opened the $100,000 BDO Curling Classic final in Hamilton against Edmonton's Kevin Martin with a whopping five in the first end. His good fortune was courtesy of a hair that ended up beneath Martin's final stone in the end.

By the end of the seventh end, however, Stoughton trailed 8-7. He then had a chance to win in the 10th -- the game was tied 9-9 coming home and he had the hammer -- but his draw to the button was heavy and Martin escaped with a stunning 10-9 win in the first of the World Curling Tour's four Grand Slam events.

"This isn't a horror story," Stoughton said last night. "If you're five up after eight ends and lose, then that would be a different story.

"What can you do? They played really well after the five and we didn't make all our shots. We still had one shot to win and we didn't make it."

Stoughton's squad, featuring third Jon Mead, second Gary Vandenberghe and lead Steve Gould, had a chance to pick up $30,000 and 30 Canadian Team Ranking System Points that went along with the victory.

Instead, they settled for $18,000 and 18 CTRS points.

The Manitoba rink that collects the most CTRS points between Sept. 1 and Dec. 31 earns an automatic berth into February's Safeway Select men's provincial championship. Stoughton would have vaulted to the top of that list with 34.88 points had he won last night.

Instead, Petersfield's Dave Boehmer retained his CTRS lead among Manitoba rinks after qualifying for the BDO Classic's championship round. Boehmer fell 7-3 to Martin yesterday morning in a quarter-final.

EARNED $6,000

Boehmer's squad earned $6,000 and six CTRS points and now has 31.96 points. Stoughton's crew has 22.88 points, but their skip said last night that they are more concerned about the Canada Cup than the Select.

Winnipeg's Kerry Burtnyk also qualified for the championship round on the weekend, but Russ Howard's New Brunswick rink bounced him with an 8-5 victory in a quarter-final.

In the semifinals, Stoughton dumped Glenn Howard's Ontario squad 9-5 while Martin edged Russ Howard 5-3.

"We did come together pretty well this weekend as a team, just to rebound from not a very good start (to the season)," Stoughton said. "We disappointed in New Westminster and Portage and it was sure nice to put some back-to-back wins together and get on a little bit of a roll and beat some of the good teams.

"It was a disappointing final, but we'll live that."

BERTH BATTLE: The eight qualifiers are set at the Safeway Select Southern Berth Bonspiel, taking place this weekend at the Portage Curling Club.

Portage's Don Spriggs, St. Vital's William Kuran, the Grain Exchange's Dean Steski and Morris's David Hamblin all qualified yesterday afternoon on the A-side.

Capturing quarter-final spots through the B-side last night were Deer Lodge's Sean Grassie, Hamiota's Allan Lawn, Neepawa's Kelly Robertson and Deloraine's Murray Warren.

In quarter-final play at 9 o'clock this morning, Spriggs battles Robertson, Kuran meets Lawn, Steski takes on Grassie and David Hamblin plays Warren.

CONNOR CASHES IN: Dennis Connor won the Manitoba Curling Tour's $26,000 Aseneskak Casino Classic last night in The Pas with a 6-2 triumph over defending Manitoba men's champion Brent Scales of Swan River.

Connor's crew, which hails from Beechy, Sask., and won $10,000, while Scales picked up $5,000.


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