Five-time champion

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 9:31 AM ET

STEINBACH -- Charleswood's Jeff Stoughton just keeps making a case for one day being known as the greatest curler in Manitoba history.

And one of the best ever in Canada, if not the world.

Stoughton defeated Valour Road's amazing Reid Carruthers 8-7 in the Safeway Select final before yet another full house (1,200) at the T.G. Smith Centre yesterday to become the first skip to win five Manitoba titles.

And Carruthers summed it up best.

'HISTORY BOOKS ARE NICE'

"The guy just keeps on winning and winning," he said graciously. "You never know when he's going to stop."

Stoughton's second, Garry Van Den Berghe, also tied Bryan Wood for the most provincial championships by a front ender with five.

"It's not anything I think about, but I guess the history books are nice," said Stoughton, 42. "For Garry and I to be five-time champs is fantastic. One day I'll look back and say it's pretty big."

Stoughton has also been to three Olympic trials, losing the 2005 final, is the all-time money leader on the Grand Slam and has won a Players' Championship, not to mention all those Canadian and provincial mixed championships.

When Stoughton takes third Jon Mead, lead Steve Gould and Van Den Berghe to the Brier in Regina March 11-19, he will have a chance to tie the legendary Ken Watson for the most Brier titles in Manitoba history with three.

"That would be nice," said Stoughton, somewhat surprised by the fact. "Like I said, I don't look at the record book too much. To know that is fantastic, and if we can pull that off, it would be awesome. That's our goal now, to get to the worlds, so we've just got to win the Brier."

Mead figures the only other Manitoba curler who could come close would be Kerry Burtnyk.

"If he doesn't go down as one of the greats in this era, I don't know what you've got to do," he said.

"He'll go down in history for a couple of things," said Van Den Berghe. "One, for being a great, great curler and another for speaking his mind. I don't know which one's going to be bigger."

After a poor start, Stoughton finally cracked a four in the fifth end to take a 5-3 lead and wrest control from a Carruthers squad that had been determined not to be denied all week.

"You're a fantastic team," Stoughton said during the closing ceremonies. "Just keep plugging away and good things will come to you."

Carruthers, 21, advanced to the final by defeating Rosser's Chris Galbraith 8-7 in the semifinal, and Stoughton admitted the youngsters had thrown a scare into him.

'A DREAM'

"We're a young team," Carruthers said of third Jason Gunnlaugson, second Derek Samagalski and Tyler Forrest. "This was our first Select, and it's a dream to come this far. The guys played amazing, I'm so proud of them, and I just had a blast out there. I really loved it. Making it to the Select final is always something to remember."

The Stoughton foursome said the victory was the result of all the hard work they had put into preparing for the trials.

"We put a ton of time and sacrifice into winning the Olympic trials and not to win is very disappointing, so we wanted to make this like our Olympic trials," Stoughton said. "We've done that, we move on now and win that Brier and keep it going. Look out."

It was Stoughton's seventh straight victory this week.

"I hope it doesn't sound arrogant, but we feel like we got something we deserved today," Mead said.

"Coming here, we really wanted to make a point," Gould said. "We were in charge most of the games. It's just pretty cool to be going back."


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