'A little burned out'

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:53 AM ET

In a way, they set themselves up for a fall. Jeff Stoughton's squad went from the high of winning $30,000 at a Grand Slam, being named the top-ranked team in the country and clinching an exemption into the Safeway Select (unofficially) on one great weekend, to being shut out the very next.

Stoughton won just one game at the inaugural Canada Cup West Bonspiel in Edmonton on the weekend and his Manitoba foursome was home by noon yesterday.

"The biggest thing is that we didn't have enough time to recover from last weekend," Jon Mead, Stoughton's third, said. "We came home for two days' work, then we went on the road again and then, we were going against teams with different aspirations because they are after Olympic trials spots. And we played like a team that was a little burned out."

UP FOR GRABS

The winner will get a berth into the 2005 Olympic trials unless it already has one. Then it would go to the next eligible team finishing no lower than fourth. The top four finishers also go to the Canada Cup in March, where another trials spot will also be up for grabs.

Stoughton had already earned a trials berth as the top squad on the Canadian Team Ranking System last season so the prize money was his only motivation.

"It's a tough time to be away from home with Christmas coming up and, at the end of the day, we would have been better off staying at home," Mead said. "But we had made the commitment to go so, we did.

"It's (Saville Centre) a fabulous facility but the ice conditions weren't up to the standards that we were used to and we didn't adapt very well. But that's not an excuse. We were the ones that just didn't play very well. We just didn't have the same motivation."

Failing to qualify for the playoff round means that Stoughton will miss this year's Canada Cup.

"We have our sights set on the Brier now and, if we were going to the Brier, we wouldn't have gone to the Canada Cup anyway because that would have been three straight major events to play in, and we aren't going to pass on the (Slam's) Players' Championship," Mead said.

Meanwhile, both Manitoba's Kerry Burtnyk and Dave Boehmer were in different C-side qualifiers on last night's late draw. Allan Lyburn, Brent Scales and David Hamblin had also been eliminated. Manitoba's Chris Galbraith was bounced from the Canada Cup East spiel in Ottawa.

On the women's side, Karen Porritt is Manitoba's last hope. She was playing in a B qualifier last night. Jennifer Jones, Lois Fowler, Barb Spencer and Joelle Duguid were eliminated earlier.


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