Tough season for 'Tobans

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:09 AM ET

So ends one of the most exhaustive, strange and befuddling curling campaigns ever.

And more often than not, Manitoba's efforts ended in frustration.

But here are the highlights, lowlights and other lights of the 2005-06 season:

HIGHLIGHTS

Newfoundland's Brad Gushue won Canada's first men's Olympic curling gold medal ... Once again, Jennifer Jones saved Bison pride when her foursome not only won the most moola on the women's cashspiel tour but ended the year by winning the inaugural Women's Players' Championship ... Jeff Stoughton won a Manitoba-record fifth men's provincial title and the Winnipeg Grand Slam ... Janet Harvey enjoyed her best season on the cashspiel circuit, finishing in the top 10, then captured her third women's provincial crown ... Jim Coleman won the gold medal at the Optimist International Under-18 Championships ... And TSN was back!

BEST STORIES

Gushue grabbed gold while his mother was recovering from cancer ... Shannon Kleibrink's Alberta squad recovered from illness just in time to win Olympic bronze ... Jean-Michel Menard won Quebec's first Brier since 1977 ... B.C. second Randy Nelson and his brushes with death while chasing poachers ... Fresh out of junior, Reid Carruthers was THE story of the Safeway Select, losing the final to Stoughton ... Lisa Roy, third for Kristy Jenion, recovered from a serious vehicle accident to not only get back on the ice but got all the way to the provincial final in her Thompson hometown, losing to Harvey ... Kendra Green recovered from a cracked vertebrae in time to play in the national Mixed with David Hamblin ... Both Cathy Overton-Clapham, third for Jones, and Steve Gould, lead for Stoughton, recovered from off-season knee operations while Garry Van Den Berghe, Stoughton's second, suffered through cracked ribs ... Then there was Nova Scotia second Mary-Anne Arsenault, an admitted "perfume junkie," being overcome by a competitor's fragrance during a game against Harvey at the Scott.

MOST TOUCHING STORIES

Cathy Gauthier's emotional departure from Jennifer Jones to commit more time to her family ... Newfoundland third Shelley Nichols being reduced to tears while watching her brother, Mark, win Olympic gold on the scoreboard above the John Labatt Centre ice during the Hot Shots competition at the Scott ... Gould and Jon Mead crying almost uncontrollably following Stoughton's loss to Gushue in the Olympic trials final ... The tearful reaction of Jill Officer, second for Jones, after losing the Scott final.

LOWLIGHTS

Still think the CCA should fine Alberta lead Don Bartlett for his sex-like grapple with an older man in Brier Bear's outfit in Regina, which was far worse than anything Stoughton did there. Stoughton did deserve to be fined for certain actions, but $1,000? ... Stoughton failed to qualify for the Brier playoffs for the first time since 1991. Then his foursome fell short of the playoffs at the poorly-attended WCT Players' Championship in Calgary ... And entries were down for the MCA's annual bonspiel once again.

FRUSTRATIONS

Jennifer Jones suffering from kidney stones during the Olympic trials. Still wonder how she would have done had she stayed stone-free ... Renaud Gagne earning his very first men's provincial appearance with a new team, then being unable to play due to injury ... And all those second-place showings -- Hamblin at the national Mixed, Stoughton at the Olympic trials, Calleen Neufeld at the national juniors and Jones at the Scott. Sheesh!


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