DAUPHIN -- Ryan Fry has finally earned his way to the same event where his father, Barry, enjoyed his ultimate moment in the sport.
Barry Fry won the 1979 Brier and his son is hoping to win another one for the family 28 years later.
"It sort of validates the way I set up my life, actually," Fry said after winning his first Manitoba title at third for Charleswood's Jeff Stoughton yesterday.
"My dad got me into the game. I've learned from him and it's taken quite awhile to be able to win a championship and get myself there.
"But it feels great to be going and I'm sure he's very proud, and I'm very proud to be able to carry on the tradition he started."
Fry left a promising team that he had been skipping to hook up with Stoughton.
"It was a hard decision because I played with three of my best friends," said Fry, who had lost the 2005 final to Valour Road's Randy Dutiaume. "But I knew the potential of this team and the commitment that all the guys would give to it. That was very important to me that we could get four guys to do everything they could to win a championship like this.
"Hopefully, we can go there and do our best to bring back a championship -- a long-awaited championship now."
Stoughton was the last Manitoban to win a Brier back in 1999.
ANOTHER FIRST: Rob Fowler's father, Brian, won the men's provincial title back in 1987 while both his mother, Lois, and sister, Rhonda Ritchie, have won the women's crown.
"That mixed Buffalo (1998) just didn't stack up," joked Rob, who joined Stoughton at second this season. "It's just extra special. It's what you grow up dreaming about. I guess the fact you grow up around the game, it's something that you want, you dream of and work for. That's what makes it extra special."
NEW BLOOD: Fry replaced Jon Mead while Fowler took over for Garry Van Den Berghe this year.
"It's just exciting to win with Ryan and Rob," said lead Steve Gould. "They played great."
And he is hoping they help Stoughton improve on his frustrating showing at last year's Brier.
"It's a new team, a new city, a new year," Gould said. "Last year wasn't great but, at the same time, we've got a totally new setup. So, we want to prove we can make the playoffs and bring a title back."
SMARTING: West Kildonan's Pete Nicholls, who throws third stones while Dean Dunstone throws skip's rocks, had upended Assiniboine Memorial's Kerry Burtnyk 7-6 in an extra end in the semifinal.
"This is tough because any time you get knocked out of a provincial championship, especially this late, it hurts," admitted Burtnyk, who came up a shade short on an attempted freeze with his last rock.
But the year is not over for him. Burtnyk will play in the next Grand Slam event, the Canada Cup and the Players' Championship. And he is pretty well assured of getting an exemption into next year's provincials as Manitoba's CTRS points leader.
GOOD NUMBERS: The impressive Credit Union Place drew a total attendance of 23,244, far exceeding expectations of the organizers, who charged more for admission than any other provincial. They are also hoping to become part of the rotation in the same way that Brandon gets the event every four years.