Charleswood's Jeff Stoughton has accepted an offer to replace Ontario's Wayne Middaugh at the lucrative Canada Cup, to be played in Kamloops, B.C., March 15-20. Middaugh apparently had to pull out due to work commitments.
Stoughton was the first choice to replace Middaugh because his foursome has the most points on the Canadian Curling Association's Canadian Team Ranking System, Jan. 1-Dec. 6, among teams not already there.
"We thought, 'What the heck, we haven't played for awhile,' and there are six teams that are going to be at the (Olympic) trials there," the two-time Brier winner said yesterday.
By accepting, Stoughton also prevented Ontario's Glenn Howard, the next team on the list and one still seeking a trials spot, from another crack at getting one.
Aside from Stoughton, the other trials-bound teams there will be: Randy Ferbey and John Morris, both of Alberta, B.C.'s Pat Ryan, Nova Scotia's Mark Dacey and Newfoundland's Brad Gushue.
"It's strange that Middaugh pulled out because his whole goal this year is to get to the trials, and this would be another way," Stoughton said. "This way, he's only got (this week's) Brier now. But hopefully, we can end the year off with a couple of big wins."
Stoughton will also compete in the Grand Slam's Players' Championship in St. John's, Nfld., March 23-27.
Sherry Middaugh, Wayne's wife, had also pulled out and will be replaced by Alberta's Cheryl Bernard.
Assiniboine Memorial's Kerry Burtnyk will be one of only four teams in Kamloops still seeking a trials spot but will need to finish in at least top three to get it.
"We're in different pools, but we actually play Kerry in a crossover game," Stoughton said. "This is his last shot, and maybe he'll be a little more uptight while we'll be looser. But if we can both get to the final, he'll be in."
Others still seeking trials spots there will be Mike Harris and Wayne Tuck, both of Ontario, and Alberta's Kevin Martin.