Stoughton encouraged

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:01 AM ET

If there were any messages sent in the prelude to the Canadian Curling Trials, just what were they?

Both of Alberta's pre-trials favourites Randy Ferbey and Kevin Martin were eliminated in the championship round of the Grand Slam's the National by the same non-trials team. Saskatchewan's Pat Simmons defeated Ferbey 9-7 in a semifinal in Port Hawkesbury, N.S., yesterday. Late Saturday, Simmons shellacked Martin 8-3 in a quarterfinal.

Meanwhile, Ontario's Wayne Middaugh, another non-trials squad, nipped provincial mate Glenn Howard 9-8 in an extra end in the other semifinal after eliminating Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton 10-4 in a Saturday quarterfinal.

'Playing pretty well'

"I don't think there were any messages sent," Jon Mead, Stoughton's third, said from Halifax yesterday. "We learned that we're playing pretty well right now. We beat (Alberta's) John Morris by scraping back into the game and we scrapped back against Ferbey, too, but lost.

"We had two wins (Morris, N.L.'s Brad Gushue) and one loss (Ferbey) against trials teams. If we do that at the trials, we have a 6-3 record and get into the playoffs."

Stoughton still earned $8,000 for qualifying.

"Qualifying in this thing was an accomplishment," Mead said. "You could run this thing eight different times and have eight different winners."

Gushue was the other trials-bound team to qualify, meaning both Nova Scotia's Shawn Adams and Morris missed out.

JONES JUMPS SHIP: Sportsnet made a mistake concerning Manitoba's Jennifer Jones during its afternoon broadcast. One was that she would have to pass on her commitment as Team Canada at the Scott Tournament of Hearts should she win the trials and head to the Olympics. Not true. Jones re-affirmed yesterday that she will honour her Scott commitment even if it means rushing home from Italy.

Jones, by the way, has accepted an offer to become the first in-house corporate lawyer for Wellington West Capital, one of her team's sponsors.

"It's a perfect fit," said Jones, who starts the new job today. "It's reduced hours so I can work it around my curling schedule."

Although Jones has left her position with Aikins, Macaulay and Thorvaldson, the firm will remain a sponsor.

"Aikins has been absolutely wonderful to me throughout my career," Jones said. "But it was just very busy and it was tough to balance everything."

MCT TRAIL: Thunder Bay's John Salo beat Ste. Anne's Murray Woodward 10-6 to win the Manitoba Curling Tour's Lake of the Woods Days Inn Cash Spiel, earning $5,400 (including the $400 he won in the shootout). Woodward got $3,000.

Meanwhile, La Salle's Randy Neufeld and Valour Road's Dave Tonnellier were among the first to qualify for the MCT spiel at the Rossmere Curling Club. Also advancing to today's championship round were Springfield's Rylan Young (Karen's son) and West Kildonan's Jeff Tarko.

SELECT SPIEL: In Morden, Valour Road's David Bohn and Sean Grassie were among the first to qualify for today's championship round of the Safeway Select Southern Berth Bonspiel. Neepawa's Kelly Robertson and Pembina's Bill Kuran also advanced through the A side. The B qualifiers were being determined last night.

BITER: Newsweek has reported that NBC plans to broadcast at least one live Olympic curling match in the U.S. during the 12-day spiel.


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