Taking care of business

TED WYMAN -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 10:48 AM ET

SELKIRK -- Peter Nicholls taught Terry McNamee a lesson and then really went to school. The Winnipeg skip thumped McNamee 7-2 in the morning draw at the Safeway Select provincial men's curling championship to qualify for the playoff round.

Then he headed off to work.

"We're happy with the win, now I've got to get back to school," said Nicholls, who is the vice-principal at Kildonan East Collegiate.

"The boys are giving me a hard time about it, but I've got to go back for a couple of hours of work. I guess I'd prefer to be able to relax, but then the work piles up."

The Nicholls foursome, which includes Dean Dunstone (who throws last rock), Travis Graham and Wayne Sigurdson, was back on the ice last night in a playoff game against Ryan Fry. They lost 7-4 but remained alive on the B-side of the championship round.

Pulling double duty hasn't affected the skip's play so far, as the Nicholls foursome is playing very well to this point.

The team put up convincing wins over Doug Gade (9-2), Peter Prokopowich (6-1) and McNamee and is one of the surprises of a playoff field that also includes top seeds Jeff Stoughton, Kerry Burtnyk and defending champion Brent Scales.

"We played really well (yesterday morning)," Nicholls said. "It was our best game so far. We were sharp and hopefully we can keep her going.

"Absolutely we're a dark horse here. You've got to go with (Burtnyk) and (Stoughton) as the favourites, because they have played so much and they are awesome. Not many people are talking about us and we want to keep it that way. We'll just go under the radar."

Nicholls, 45, who won a provincial championship as third for Dave Smith in 1994, said he has played in the Manitoba playdowns 17 or 18 times, which explains why he's still holding the broom despite not throwing skip rocks.

"A couple of years ago, I skipped and Dean played third and we had a decent year," Nicholls said. "I asked him if he wanted to throw the last rock, and I just assumed he would hold the broom. But he thought I knew the ice pretty well, and it has worked out fairly well."

Nicholls knows his odds are still long because he's going to have to get past Burtnyk and Stoughton at some point but believes he's a got a chance to win the whole thing.

"In a seven-game series I don't think we'd beat either one of those guys, but one game? Who knows?"

DRIVE FOR FIVE: Jeff Stoughton would like to see his name in the history books eventually, but right now he isn't giving much thought to becoming the first Manitoba skip to win five men's championships.

Stoughton and Kerry Burtnyk both have four championships to their credit and could win their fifth this weekend.

"Obviously it would be great," Stoughton said yesterday after qualifying for the playoff round with a 10-6 win over Randy Dutiaume. "It doesn't mean we would be the only ones with five forever, but really just winning another one is what it's all about. When the history books are written it would be great to have five or six at the end of the career. I'm sure if you asked Kerry, it would be the same answer."

STRONG ARMOUR: We documented earlier this week that Doug Armour of Souris, who is playing third for Kelly Robertson this week, is now eligible for the masters curling division. In fact, Armour, 60, has already won his masters zone, his senior men's team plays in zones next week in Brandon and if that doesn't work out, he's got a mixed team lined up.

"I just love the game," Armour said.


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