New blood 'perfect' for Dutiaume

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:57 AM ET

The team personnel change has given Valour Road's Randy Dutiaume a new lease on his curling life.

Dutiaume, who had been sinking into the doldrums with his former foursome, welcomed former Brier competitors Dave Elias and Shane Kilgallen to his squad just before the MCA's 117th Annual Bonspiel began.

A week later, Dutiaume had not only wrapped up a Safeway Select spot but also added the Grand Aggregate title after winning 15 straight matches.

"Yeah, the squad's working good," Dutiaume said before blasting Granite's Troy Hamilton 8-1 at the Heather Curling Club to clinch the bonspiel championship. "Shane and Dave Elias bring so much experience and they know there's always something going on. There's always some offensive play you can make to get back into a game and we've been doing it the whole way, every game we've played in."

Both Elias, 35 and Kilgallen, 34 went to the 2002 Brier as the front end for Valour Road's Mark Lukowich. Elias has moved up to third while Greg Melnichuk, 31, has remained at second for Dutiaume.

"It would mean a lot," Dutiaume said before salting the aggie title away. "I would be happy about it. Very ecstatic. At the end of the year, I would probably look back and glow in that seat. But the one prize here is winning that Select, that is my main goal and I was totally focused on that spot.

"Now I have to change my thought process again because I actually have a team that can do something (at the Select). They're certainly capable. They're past champions and there's a legitimate chance if we get some breaks and things go well out there."

Certainly, they have proven to be a force to be feared this week.

"I think we can compete with anybody," said Dutiaume, 42. "There's nobody in the province that scares me any more. Like, I know that I can play with them. As long as I'm playing my game, I think I can play with anybody."

Dutiaume, who had beaten Morden's Brad Wainikka 6-4 earlier, also defeated La Salle's Randy Neufeld 7-3 in one main-event final last night.

But confusion reigned in re-booking ice for the other major-event final because it had been scheduled for the same time. The MCA attempted, but failed, to ice it in the afternoon, which would have forced Dutiaume to play four games in one day.

Dutiaume will face Heather's young Adam Norget in that one at a time to be determined. Norget had advanced by sinking St. Vital's Doug Riach 6-4 in that semifinal.


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