Next One arriving

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

DAUPHIN -- For years now, the Manitoba curling fraternity has been looking for the Next One.

Or, the 'Next Jeff.'

And it's starting to look like Reid Carruthers could soon lay claim to that moniker. Carruthers, who lost last year's Manitoba final to Charleswood's Jeff Stoughton, skipped his Beausejour squad to an easy 8-5 victory over Valour Road's former Manitoba champ Randy Dutiaume at Credit Union Place yesterday to advance to the playoff round of the Safeway Championship.

'LOTS OF POTENTIAL'

"They've got lots of potential and it looks like they're carrying that on into here," said Stoughton, a five-time Manitoba champ. "They're not a one-hit wonder, and we didn't think they were going to be after last year when we played them and how well they played ... They'll be a tough team to beat."

Stoughton, Assiniboine Memorial's Kerry Burtnyk and Portage la Prairie's Don Spriggs also qualified through the A-side.

"The crowd is getting behind the young guys (Carruthers), which is great to see," Burtnyk said after clipping West Kildonan's Pete Nicholls 8-7. "We haven't had a lot of young teams come along for awhile."

Carruthers, 22, took teams by surprise last year but was seeded sixth here.

"(Last year), everything was gravy; this (year), we want to win," said his flame-throwing third, Jason Gunnlaugson.

However, Brandon's Terry McNamee, who qualified through B, cooled Carruthers off by downing him 7-3 in the first draw of the playoff round last night.

"McNamee played great and definitely deserved that win," conceded Carruthers. "(But) we've battled back from losses before and I'm not too worried about it. Last year, we didn't go undefeated to the final. We made our way through the 2-2 (playoff) game. We definitely made it harder on ourselves, hopping on one leg, but it's just a matter of re-grouping."

Carruthers plays Dutiaume, who also qualified through B, again this morning.

Stoughton, however, is not about to surrender his mantel without a fight. He clobbered Virden's Graham Freeman 7-1 in seven ends to qualify, then destroyed Dutiaume 9-4 in eight last night.

"The guys played sharp," Stoughton said. "(But) to win in the quarters is not the end of the road yet and anything can happen. We're playing well; we're feeling good; and we just want to carry this on until (today) and hopefully, we can get to that A-side final."

In the other games last night, Nicholls clipped Spriggs 10-8 and Burtnyk beat Valour Road's David Bohn 8-6 in an extra end.


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