Stoughton to shoot for five

Skip Jeff Stoughton. (SUN file photo)

Skip Jeff Stoughton. (SUN file photo)

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 12:20 PM ET

STEINBACH -- History beckons once again.

For the second time in the last three years, Charleswood's Jeff Stoughton stands on the precipice of sliding to glory as the first skip to ever win five Manitoba titles.

Stoughton clipped Rosser's Chris Galbraith 6-5 in the Safeway Select's Page playoff 1-vs.-1 match at the T.G. Smith Centre last night.

Stoughton advances to today's 2 p.m. final where he will face the winner of this morning's semifinal between Valour Road's amazing Reid Carruthers and Galbraith.

'GREAT TIMING'

"Yeah, it's very exciting," Stoughton said. "We've got one big game left (today) and that's all we can ask for. So, that's great timing and things are going well."

Stoughton second Garry Van Den Berghe could also tie Bryan Wood for the most men's provincial championships for a front ender with five in his last year of competitive curling.

But both had this chance two years ago when Stoughton had also won six straight matches, only to lose the final to Swan River's Brent Scales. Although Stoughton also lost last month's Olympic trials, his side has won three of the four finals it has played this season.

Carruthers advanced to the semifinal by eliminating La Salle's Randy Neufeld 7-5 in the two-two playoff when Neufeld missed his last shot.

"That was one heck of a game," said Carruthers, 21. "We were pretty fortunate to win that one. The guys played really well. I gave up a bad steal of two in the sixth end. That rattled us a little bit but we pulled it out somehow. I'm kind of in shock right now.

"(The semifinal) will probably be another close one but that's what the Select's all about. Close games, exciting finishes."

Carruthers had beaten Galbraith to qualify but lost to him in the opening round of the playoffs.

"We've had a couple of really good games and I'm looking forward to another one," Carruthers said.

With most of the attention focused on others here this week, Galbraith has quietly gone about his business. First, the former national junior titlist qualified for the championship round for the first time, then advanced to the playoff against Stoughton by handing Carruthers his only loss yesterday morning.

"Yeah, phantom team," Galbraith, 31, conceded after clipping Carruthers 7-6. "Play awful all year, then show up at the Select.

"We've been steady. We started off a little shaky but we're getting better and better each game."

Carruthers rebounded from his loss to Galbraith by bouncing clubmate Dave Smith, skipped by Vic Peters, 7-4. Peters had replaced an injured Smith at skip the entire week.

"It was a lot of fun," he said. "It was good run, for sure."

DREAM TEAM: Stoughton, third Jason Gunnlaugson (Carruthers), second Bryan Galbraith (Galbraith) and lead Steve Gould (Stoughton) were named to the Select All-Star team by the Manitoba Curling Media Association.


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