Stoughton confident

Skip Jeff Stoughton calls the sweep during draw 16 action at the Canadian curling trials in Halifax...

Skip Jeff Stoughton calls the sweep during draw 16 action at the Canadian curling trials in Halifax on Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005. Team Stoughton defeated Team Dacey 8-5. The curlers are competing for the right to represent Canada at the 2006 Olympic Winter Games in Torino.(CP PHOTO/Andrew Vaughan)

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:12 AM ET

HALIFAX -- Steve Gould has seen this look in his skipper's eyes before.

Like 1996 when Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton won his first Brier and only world championship. And in '99 when he won his second Brier belt.

'Unbelievable'

"When he gets on a run, he's unbelievable," said Gould, the Manitoba lead who won the worlds with Stoughton and was the fifth in 1999. "But 1996 was just insane, he drew to the button for fun. In '99 when he won the Brier with these guys, he was on fire then, too.

"It feels good. You leave him alone. It's like a guy pitching a no-hitter, you don't talk to him -- which is great with Jeff. You don't want to talk to him."

Stoughton crushed Alberta's Kevin Martin 8-2 after downing Nova Scotia's Mark Dacey 8-5 in the last two draws of the Canadian Curling Trials at the Halifax Metro Centre yesterday to finish alone in second spot with a 7-2 record. His foursome will face Alberta's John Morris, who fell to third at 6-3, in the semifinal, to be televised on TSN today at 5:30 p.m.

Stoughton's teammates are relishing the zone that Stoughton seems to have discovered as they streak into the playoffs, needing only two victories to earn a trip to the Olympics in Italy. Stoughton led all skips here at 89%.

"He's got that little thing going on that he gets sometimes," said third Jon Mead. "Very few people can play at that level and he's making all the big ones. Whether it's a draw or a hit, he's doing it all. He's got a wonderful touch.

"He gives the rest of us a lot of confidence because I don't feel like I have to make my last shot in order for us to avoid something bad."

'Not doing anything extra special'

Stoughton, who gets the hammer in the semifinal, admitted to feeling confident.

"It's just that things are going well and you just want them to keep going," he said. "I'm not doing anything extra special. It's just one of those feelings that you get, that you have a good feeling before all your shots. You sort of see it before you throw it and it's a great feeling when things are going well for you and you're not struggling.

"It's pretty nice. Two wins away from this whole thing and we couldn't ask for anything more than that. The guys are starting to play real well. Hopefully, we can hold it together for two more wins."

Morris had beaten Stoughton 8-4 in the first game of the week.

"They're a great team and we'll have to play a lot better," Morris said after dropping a 7-4 decision to Newfoundland's Brad Gushue in a game that determined top spot.

"I hope they don't play as well against us as they did the first game because that will mean big trouble," said Gould. "But, if we play good, it should be a real good game."

Gushue finished first to earn the bye into the Sunday's final, to be televised on CBC at 11:30 a.m.

"The key now is not to think about it for the next two days because then you can stress out about it," said Gushue. "We've got to do stuff to distract ourselves.

"And it doesn't matter who we play, they're both great teams."

Veteran Russ Howard, who has been calling the shots and throwing second stones, admitted he could use the rest.

"We're playing great and if we can put together another one like that, we'll be in great shape," he added.


Videos

Photos