'Tobans back on track

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:29 AM ET

HALIFAX -- The Buffalo boys have not reached the top of their own Citadel here yet but they have re-started that climb after tripping over the first step.

Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton won both games at the Canadian Curling Trials yesterday to improve to 2-1 and a four-way tie for second place.

"I wouldn't say we were playing that terribly," Stoughton said after nipping Nova Scotia's Shawn Adams 5-4 in an extra end at the Halifax Metro Centre. "It's going as we hoped. Obviously, we wanted to win our first three but we certainly didn't want to be 1-2."

Actually, Stoughton outshot Adams 91%-82% while third Jon Mead outshot counterpart Paul Flemming 92%-86%.

Yet, Stoughton admitted his squad has yet to play its best game.

"No, but it was a good game," he said. "We controlled it. No deuces but we won our two games (yesterday) that we had to win and that's the bottom line. (Today), we have the one game and we want to win that game to get to 3-1 and get going on a bit of a roll."

Earlier, Stoughton beat B.C.'s winless Jay Peachey 8-3.

The Manitoba foursome shrugged off its opening-game loss to Alberta's John Morris.

"We didn't give it a second thought," said second Garry Van Den Berghe. "We said three losses coming in was going to get you something so, losing a game was nothing. As you can see, there's only one team left undefeated."

That would be Newfoundland's Brad Gushue, who upset Alberta's reigning champion Randy Ferbey 9-6.

"It's a tough field," Stoughton underscored. "Everyone's beaten everybody else. So, we can beat up on each other and that's what makes this so tough. I mean, one unbeaten team? Who would have thought that after only three draws? That shows the parity here and that's great.

"You want it to go down to that last game for everyone to get into the playoffs and if you don't, you're done. That's all we're hoping for -- a chance to keep playing."

Stoughton plays B.C.'s Pat Ryan, also 2-1, today.

"It's a must-win for both of us because neither of us wants to go to 2-2," he said.

"I don't think there's any game that's not going to mean something unless you're completely out on the last day or something. It's the same for both teams -- pressure on both sides. Both teams need to win and it's great when it's like that."

Stoughton was asked if he was shocked that the youthful Gushue is 3-0.

"Yes and no," he replied. "They came out pretty fired up. They're in the same boat, though. You lose one game and all of a sudden, you're in the pack again. They want to keep the momentum going because they're playing really well."

Van Den Berghe was not surprised, though.

"Not at all," he said. "That's a great team and adding Russ (Howard) to the mix gives them a ton of experience."

Even Gushue was enjoying his somewhat unexpected success.

"I won't say I'm surprised, I won't say I expected it," he said. "We went out and played three good games and got three wins. We got pretty lucky and for the next six, it's just a matter of going out to play the way we did for the first three and there's no telling whether we're going to win more than we're going to lose."

Alberta's Kevin Martin and Morris improved to 2-1 while Ferbey fell to 1-2 alongside Nova Scotia's Mark Dacey, Ontario's Glenn Howard and Adams.


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