Jeff Stoughton was a perfect 5-0 after the round-robin of the BDO Classic Canadian Open at MTS Centre. Then he ran into Kevin Koe.
Stoughton, the bonspiel's defending champ, lost 5-3 to the Alberta skip during quarter-final action yesterday.
"We just didn't come out as sharp as we could have," said Stoughton after stepping off the ice. "... We're disappointed. We're going to regroup after this, but we can't complain about the spiel. We had a great five games, and what can you do? We just came up against a real hot team, and we struggled a bit."
The Charleswood Curling Club skip said the team's performance had vastly improved from the last Grand Slam event in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ont., last November, when it failed to qualify for the quarters.
"We've progressively gotten better throughout the year," said Stoughton. "This is a great step for us -- to qualify here and win five. A week and a half from now we're in Dauphin (at the Safeway Championship) and ready to roll. I think the guys take a lot of positives from this. We're going to feel good going to Dauphin."
Stoughton will be bringing a new team -- Ryan Fry, Rob Fowler and Steve Gould -- to the provincials, beginning Feb. 7, for the first time in many years, and he's going there with one goal in mind.
"The whole idea is to go there and win this thing and get back to the Brier," he said. "I think most teams, if they don't look at it that way, then I'm not sure why they're playing.
"... It's nice to be at a high-level competition, but I'm going there to win. I'm not going there to finish second or eighth or 31st. We're going there to win and we've got to get the guys in the frame of mind that we're good enough to do that."
With a new team, however, there are obvious growing pains. Pain he's willing to endure for the greater good.
"You become so accustomed to your players and how they throw," he said of former teammates Jon Mead and Garry Van Den Berghe. "The side of it it now is your expectations are a little lower and you feel really good when the guys are playing well and you're helping them out. It's a new feeling of 'Let's win with a new team.'"
Stoughton will be taking the next few days off before beginning throwing every day up to the start of the Safeway.
In other quarter-final action yesterday, Alberta's Randy Ferbey overcame giving up a four in the fifth end to beat provincial rival Mark Johnson 8-6. Ontario's Glenn Howard knocked off Saskatchewan's Pat Simmons 6-5, while Alberta's Kevin Martin beat Ontario's Wayne Middaugh 5-3.
Ferbey went on to defeat Koe 7-5 in the semis and Martin beat Howard 5-3 to set up a Ferbey-Martin final at noon today.
The game will be broadcast on CBC and tickets are available at Ticketmaster or the box office.