Midas touch

JIM BENDER -- Winnipeg Sun

, Last Updated: 7:29 AM ET

He is generally acknowledged as the finest third to come out of Manitoba, and one of the best in the world.

So, it should not be that much of a surprise when Jon Mead helps teams win big bucks the few times he spares for them. Although Mead, who helped Jeff Stoughton win three provincial men's crowns, one Brier title, one Players' Championship and to finish second at last year's Olympic trials, has taken at least this season off, he seems to have the Midas touch whenever he reappears.

Mead replaced Richard Hart at third for Ontario's Glenn Howard at a lucrative World Curling Tour event in Lloydminster, Sask., and helped him win $22,000. A few weeks earlier, Mead spared at third for Alberta's John Morris (who stepped up to replace absent skip Kevin Martin) at the Meyers Norris Penny Prairie Classic in Portage la Prairie, and that team cashed a $4,000 cheque.

"Steve's (Gould, Stoughton's lead) real mad at me because, in the two spiels I've played, I made more money than they did," Mead joked from the Calgary airport yesterday.

Stoughton earned $8,000 after losing a semifinal to Kerry Burtnyk.

But that doesn't mean Mead has gotten the bug to make a comeback, despite the success of Manitoba's Burtnyk -- the team Howard beat 9-5 in that final -- after returning from a one-year leave of absence.

"As much fun as it is to win, I go thinking, 'This is why I'm not doing this,' and I'm tired as I've ever been right now," Mead said. "It's great when things are going well but it's a hard way to make a living.

"And I'm backed up at work. When I get back, I'll get to spend a little time with my wife, then she is off on a trip. So, I've got no plans to play any more. I have no time or the inclination."

Besides, Mead did not play like he can, despite the extra curling coin in his pocket.

"I expected to do well with these guys (Howard) because they play so well and I played a lot of shots that you expect to make," he said. "But I didn't play particularly well for Johnny Mo in Portage."

Actually, Mead could be convinced to play one more spiel.

"I wouldn't mind the possibility of going to the Bear Mountain (Arena Classic in Victoria, B.C.) -- not for the curling but for the golf," he said.

With his $15,000, Burtnyk jumped back to the top of the WCT money list.

HEARTS PASS: Both Manitoba's Jennifer Jones and reigning provincial champion Janet Harvey will pass on this weekend's berth bonspiel in Neepawa to compete at a lucrative women's cashspiel in Abbotsford, B.C.

"It's one of the women's Grand Slams so it's hard to pass up," Jones explained. "(The conflict) is unfortunate. We would have gone to the berth spiel otherwise."

Harvey is the cashspiel's defending champ.

Without Jones and Harvey, the berth spiel drew just 23 teams.

BITERS: CCA CEO Dave Parkes, the man responsible for the TV debacle, is reportedly stepping down. No word, though, on whether he is being pushed out ... The 2009 Brier will reportedly be awarded to Calgary ... The MCT's Skins Game at Grand Marais has been cancelled again due to lack of entries. Refunds will be mailed out this week ... The deadline for entries into the Strathcona Senior Men's and Great Canadian Travel Senior Women's Bonspiels as well as both the junior men's and junior women's zones is tomorrow at 4:30 p.m. Contact the MCA ... Tickets for the 2007 Safeway Select, to be played in Dauphin, Feb. 7-11 are now on sale.

TEAM OF THE WEEK: It is the curlers' dream end, that is if you are on the right end of the score.

Bruce Hembroff's team was. His mixed foursome cracked an eight-ender at the Charleswood Senior League on Monday, earning the Sun's nod for Team of the Week.

"I never dreamed that this would ever happen," said Hembroff, thankful that his squad of third Richard Wilding, second Mac Morton and Marilyn Davis set up the perfect end for him. "It's like getting a hole-in-one in golf."

Hembroff was actually losing 3-1 when the big eight became a possibility in the fourth end.

"It kind of snuck up on them," Hembroff said. "I was kind of surprised myself."

The skipper needed to pick out an opposition stone and stay to score the eight-ender.

"I knew the possibility was there but nobody said a thing," Hembroff said. "My third knew but said nothing."

Then he made the shot.

"It was quite exciting," Hembroff said. "But I did feel kind of bad for the other team."

Hembroff declined to identify his victim, who gamely kept on playing. After trading points, Hembroff finally won 10-4.

COMING UP: Reigning Manitoba junior women's champion Calleen Neufeld will be one of 16 teams entered in this weekend's berth bonspiel in Altona ... A total of 30 teams have entered the junior men's berth spiel in Manitou ... On the Manitoba Curling Tour, there are two men's events as the women take a break to compete in their berth spiel in Neepawa. The Pharmasave Gimli Classic starts Friday and finishes Monday with the Agricore United Oiltown Classic starting in Virden on Friday, finishing Sunday ... The Starbuck Grannies Spiel "for grannies only," goes today.

HOUSE CLEANING: Quebec's Eve Belisle downed Manitoba's Terry McNamee 10-5 yesterday to improve to 5-0 at the national Mixed in Kitchener/Waterloo, Ont. McNamee fell to 4-2 heading into last night's draw against the 0-6 Yukon/NWT ... Brandon's Brian Moffatt defeated Carman's Bill North 6-3 in the final of the McDiarmid Lumber Senior Men's Berth Bonspiel to earn a spot in the provincials, to be played at the Fort Rouge Curling Club, Feb. 22-26 ... Brandon's Lois Fowler felled Minnedosa's Jean Garbolinsky 12-1 in the final of the Mondetta Senior Women's Berth spiel to advance to the provincials, to be played in Altona, Feb. 22-26.

Manitoba's Calleen Neufeld won $905 Cdn at a cashspiel in Duluth, Minn. ... On the MCT trail, Saskatchewan's Bruce Korte beat Brandon's Mike McEwen in the final of the MCT event in Swan River to earn $11,500. McEwen settled for $6,500 ... West Kildonan's Pete Nicholls clipped St. Vital's Brad Haight 6-4 in the men's final of the East St. Paul Cash Spiel to win $4,000. Kim Link of the home club beat Brandon's Maureen Bonar 7-5 in the women's final to earn $2,500. Bonar got $1,200.


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