SELKIRK -- Randy Dutiaume often compares himself with a journeyman hockey grinder and yesterday the 42-year-old mucker won his Stanley Cup.
The Winnipegger capped a most-unlikely month of curling by capturing his first provincial men's championship at the Selkirk Recreation Complex.
Dutiaume, who formed his team on Jan. 17 and is 23-2 since that time, knocked off Winnipeg's Ryan Fry 8-5 in the final.
When the Safeway Select trophy was presented to him, Dutiaume raised it over his head like an NHL veteran getting his first turn with Lord Stanley's mug, creating the picture of curling bliss.
"This is the Holy Grail of curling in Manitoba," said Dutiaume. "I was just happier than a pig in poop. This is an unbelievable run and it's an unbelievable scenario. The only person that thought we could win from the beginning was probably me. This is something I've been dreaming about all my life."
The Dutiaume foursome, which includes third Dave Elias, second Greg Melnichuk and lead Shane Kilgallen, will represent Manitoba at the Tim Horton's Brier in Edmonton March 5-13.
They will try to continue a roll that started with the team going 16-1 and winning the Grand Aggregate title at the MCA Bonspiel and then going 7-1 at the Safeway Select and emerging victorious from a 32-team field that included four-time champions Jeff Stoughton and Kerry Burtnyk.
"I'm extremely proud of my guys ... they have been playing just fantastic," Dutiaume said. "I never had any doubts. I knew we had a very good team here, and I guess we're staying together next year now."
Elias and Kilgallen won a provincial championship in 2002 with Mark Lukowich and were instrumental in the rapid rise of the Valour Road team. Their steadying influence, Dutiaume's zest for the game and great shot-making were the perfect combination.
"Our expectations were high, but we never thought we could pull this off," said Elias, who started the year curling with Murray Woodward. "I had no curling expectations a month ago because I wasn't curling, so that's kind of a funny thing. We just had great chemistry."
Dutiaume won the final despite a terrible second end in which the skip missed both his shots and gave up a steal of three. But he bounced back with a deuce in three and then put huge pressure on the young Fry team for the next few ends.
Dutiaume stole two in four, one in five and two more in six to start etching his name on the trophy.
"I loved seeing (Melnichuk) and (Dutiaume's) face, winning it for the first time," said Kilgallen. "Randy always seems like a kid in a candy store anyway, so it was something to see."
The loss was tough to swallow for Fry, a 26-year-old who curls with Kyle Werenich, Jason Smith and Cory Naharnie, but the young skip and his teammates have nothing to hang their heads about.
They beat Burtnyk twice and were giant killers right up until the final.
"It's very disappointing, but we're all pretty young guys and we're all very committed to trying to compete for this province for many years to come, so hopefully we'll just keep on going and maybe find ourselves back here in a year or two and it will be different then," Fry said.