Big dogs tumble at Select

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 1:58 PM ET

STEINBACH -- Both the defending champ and the No. 2 seed were bounced from the Safeway Select in the same draw yesterday.

And the only real surprise was that their Brier dreams were dashed so soon this week. Valour Road's Randy (Lunch Box) Dutiaume failed to defend his Manitoba men's curling title when he fell to Virden's Graham Freeman 4-3 at the T.G. Smith Centre. Clubmate Dave Boehmer was eliminated by Mike McEwen, also of Valour, 4-2.

And truth to tell, Dutiaume never really did much to serve notice all year that he was ready to defend, as evidenced by his No. 4 seeding here. And Boehmer just solidified his rep as the best cashspieler who just cannot win a provincial crown.

Dutiaume knows that it is rare to win back-to-back Manitoba titles.

"That's why it was so special to try to repeat this year," he said. "To be able to put yourself into position with names like (Vic) Peters and (Don) Duguid and (Jeff) Stoughton would be quite something in this province. Unfortunately, we just didn't have the horses this week. Oh well, we'll be back another day."

Actually, Dutiaume is not that certain the same foursome will be back another day, as they have yet to discuss their immediate futures.

"But I really enjoy playing with these guys," he said of third Dave Elias, second Greg Melnichuk and Shane Kilgallen.

"I actually thought the boys were playing pretty good, but we just didn't have that same sort of thing that we had last year. Last year, when we wanted a rock in a certain spot, we'd get it there, and we just didn't seem to get it into that exact same spot that would give us control in the end.

"My guys played good today, and I just didn't have my A game. Unfortunately, we didn't win, and that's the way the ball bounces."

The 'Lunch Box' was empty.

But Dutiaume, 43, did enjoy his short-lived reign.

"It's been really good," he said. "You couldn't pick a better province to win it in, and whoever wins this spiel this weekend is going to be a fine representative. I wish them all the best of luck."

But even stranger was yet another frustration for Boehmer, who battles the best in the business on the cashspiel circuit but cannot beat the better teams at the Select.

"Another 2-2 and .500 is terrible being the No. 2 seed and all that," Boehmer, 40, readily admitted. "We just didn't seem to have the spark out there.

"I don't know if it's the money thing or not, because you know I like playing for the money. I hate to say that maybe that's what it is. Just so many dull performances in the provincials, I really don't know what else it could be."

But there is actually a prize purse at the Brier now.

"I know, but it's all or nothing here, though," he responded.

So, for now, Boehmer will continue to be known as just one hell of a cashspiel curler.

"That's what it looks like now, and this pretty much confirms it because of another early exit," he said.

The season seems to be over for Boehmer, third Pat Spring, second Ken Tresoor and Keith Fenton as he declined to go to the next Grand Slam event because his front end could not make it.

Meanwhile, another former champ, Swan River's Brent Scales (2004), also fell by the wayside, which not only underscored the difficulty of repeating, but makes the accomplishments of those who have won four Manitoba titles -- Stoughton among them -- all that more amazing.


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