Stoughton stumbles

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:10 PM ET

HALIFAX -- It is the easy shots you miss that can come back to haunt you, Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton said before appearing in his third Canadian Curling Trials.

Well, Stoughton missed a relatively easy hit-and-stick in the third end of his trials opener to allow Alberta's John Morris a steal of two and a sudden 4-0 lead. Morris then held on to post an 8-4 victory over the Buffalo Boys at the Halifax Metro Centre yesterday afternoon.

"I missed the hit-and-stick in three and that was the big shot," Stoughton readily admitted. "When you go from being one down to four down, it makes a big difference."

Morris suggested that was uncharacteristic of the two-time Brier champ.

"I wouldn't say that was his A game," he said. "That one hit (when) he rolled out that gave us a steal of two, you don't see that from him very often. But it's the first game in an event and it's hard to be absolutely perfect when you're still feeling out the ice and feeling out the rocks.

"They're a force to be reckoned with and I'm sure they'll come back strong."

They had better. When you are playing a nine-game round robin with only the top three making the playoffs, even one loss can set you on your heels.

"Basically, you can look at it like you're tied for second place, you could look at it like you're in sixth place and one game back of the playoffs," suggested Stoughton, who had company there as both Alberta's Randy Ferbey and Ontario's Glenn Howard also opened with losses. "But I don't think you can look at it and say we've given up, our whole week's done. You look back and (Manitoba's Kerry) Burtnyk went 0-3 to start his last run, then won seven in a row to get to the final (of the 2001 Olympic trials).

"You can't give up, that's the biggest thing, no matter what happens out there, and that's what we did out there. None of us hung our heads. We went four down and just kept battling back, plugging away."

In fact, Morris had to draw against three in the ninth end to put the game away.

"A lot of our starts have been a little bit slow this year but they played phenomenal," said Manitoba lead Steve Gould, who shot 97%. "They didn't really miss anything. We had good draw weight, the ice is good so, if we play like that, our chances are going to be very good."

In fact, throwing so many draws in one game should actually help them the rest of the week.

"We've got to come back and win our two games (today)," said Stoughton, who shot 70%. "You don't want to start 0-3, that's for sure. Some team might but we just don't want to be the one."

Stoughton plays B.C.'s Jay Peachey and Nova Scotia's Shawn Adams today.

Although Stoughton's team met with sports psychologist Tom Patrick after the game, that has become their usual routine.

"We just all say what we thought about the game and what we felt we could improve on," Gould said. "And basically move on, stay positive."


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