An upset winner

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:47 AM ET

SELKIRK -- Anyone who thinks Jeff Stoughton might be susceptible to an upset this week while he battles a nasty bug should flush those thoughts immediately.

The only upset yesterday was in Stoughton's stomach and if this is the way he plays when he's sick then his opponents better watch out when he gets healthy.

Stoughton opened the Safeway Select provincial men's curling championship with a tidy 7-3 victory over Brad Wainikka of Morden at the Selkirk Recreation Complex.

The four-time provincial champ and top seed missed two days of work this week with the stomach flu -- or possibly food poisoning -- and is still feeling the lingering effects of the illness.

"I'm feeling a little better than the last couple of days," said Stoughton, who had to make a trip to the men's room during the game. "Everything's fine and we had a good game. It was pretty conservative."

RETURNED

Stoughton hasn't won the Safeway Select since 2000, but is only competing in his third championship since that time. His foursome returned from a two-year exclusivity agreement with the World Curling Tour to the provincial playdowns last year and lost a shocking final to Swan River's Brent Scales.

Since then he has won a Grand Slam event and captured a berth in the 2005 Olympic trials, so the sting of last year's loss has subsided.

"It bothers you for quite awhile afterwards," Stoughton said of his loss to Scales. "But we got over it, we got our trials spot and moved on to, hopefully, bigger and better things.

"Right now we want to go back to the Brier and that makes this our main focus. I think we're still the best team, or one of the best teams in Manitoba, and we just have to prove it."

The other top seeds also won yesterday, with No. 2 Kerry Burtnyk blasting Gerry Janz 8-2, No. 3 Dave Boehmer beating Dean Steski 11-4, defending champion and No. 4-seed Scales hammering Troy Hamilton 10-4 and No. 5 James Kirkness edging Bob Sigurdson 5-4.

BOUNCED BACK

Seeds in the top-10 who lost yesterday were No. 6 Don Spriggs, 7-6 to Peter Prokopowich, No. 7 Murray Warren, 6-3 to Blaine Gogal, and No. 8 Chris Galbraith, 8-7 to Doug Riach. Spriggs bounced back with a 9-3 win over Doug Gade last night, while Warren also stayed alive with an 8-6 win over Don Holmes.

Boehmer survived a bit of a scare against Steski, giving up four in the third end to fall behind 4-2. But he bounced back with four of his own in the fourth and then stole the next two ends to turn a close game into an early handshake.

"I was awful scared when we gave up that four," Boehmer said. "I'll tell you what, my shoulders sagged after that. I thought it was going to be a long battle back, so to bounce back with the four right away totally changed the game back in our favour."

Scales scored three with the hammer in the first, stole three more in the second and cruised from there. Perhaps cruised a little too easily.

"The start was good, but I felt we probably let our minds get out of things after the 6-0 lead," Scales said. "But we got the job done and that's the main thing. After two ends we were almost going through the motions, which in the first game is something I just don't want to see happen. We'll have to make some changes and be a little more focused the next game."


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