Small consolation

Winnipeg skip Jeff Stoughton calls to his sweepers during the Canadian Open final at the MTS Centre...

Winnipeg skip Jeff Stoughton calls to his sweepers during the Canadian Open final at the MTS Centre Sunday, Jan. 8, 2006. (Winnipeg Sun/Brian Donogh)

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 8:19 AM ET

Not even winning 30 grand will soften the sting of the crushing disappointment in Halifax.

But it could buy a few consolation dinners for Jeff Stoughton, whose Manitoba team will feel the pain of losing the Canadian Curling Trials final for some time yet.

Stoughton needed an extra end to nip Alberta's John Morris 7-6 in a most entertaining final of the Grand Slam's Canadian Open before 5,003 fans at the MTS Centre last night.

"I don't think anything can soften that blow," Stoughton said. "It's too much and too far away to be looking forward to (the next trials).

"This helps in that the team has been playing so well, and we just want to continue on and play well, try to get back to that Brier and go from there. So it's great to win a Grand Slam, but nothing's going to ease that pain, that's for sure."

Stoughton needed to make a hit, roll and tap for the winning point. Afterwards, the crowd gave his team a standing ovation for not only its performance here, but for its efforts in Halifax.

"I think so," agreed Stoughton, supported by third Jon Mead, second Garry Van Den Berghe, lead Steve Gould and fifth Don Harvey, who played one game here. "I know a lot of people lived and died with the Manitoba team at the trials, and we really appreciated that. It was great to have their support and have them cheering us on and knowing that we were so close.

"And pulling that one off here was just fantastic."

Stoughton cracked a three in the eighth end to take a 6-4 lead after Morris wrecked on a raise-takeout. But Morris fought back to force the extra end with a deuce in the 10th.

'CLASSY GUYS'

"Giving up that three hurt," Morris admitted. "We battled hard, came back hard and just fell a little short.

"They (Stoughton) played great, and they're always fun to play. They're classy guys, and if you're going to lose to a team, you don't mind losing to a team like Stoughton's. They deserved it."

Morris, who lost the trials semifinal to Stoughton in Halifax, settled for the $18,000 runner-up cash.

"The good thing about losing a final here is at least you get a pay cheque to bring home, as opposed to the trials where you just get a lot of pats on the back," said Morris, supported by third Kevin Koe, second Marc Kennedy and Paul Moffatt. "There's some consolation because we're all heading to Vegas (for Koe's brother's stag) on Thursday, so it will be nice to have a little spending cash. It wouldn't have looked too good if we didn't qualify here, because I would have been playing the nickel slots."

Stoughton will now take aim at a record fifth Manitoba title and a third Brier belt.

"We'll have a little time off, and I think this will help," Stoughton said. "We've got a few games under our belt after the loss (in Halifax).

"Everyone's feeling good, and everyone feels like we can go on to win (the Safeway Select)."

BITER: The Children's Hospital Foundation hopes to realize at least the $46,000 raised by last year's Slam. The final figures will be in later this week.


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