SELKIRK -- Pete Nicholls became the first to qualify for the championship round of the Safeway Championship, then some of his Deer Lodge crew stayed on the ice to get in a little extra practice.
Nicholls, the No. 4 seed, whipped West Kildonan's fifth-ranked Reid Carruthers 9-3 in only six ends at the Selkirk Recreation Complex yesterday morning.
"We've got to be sharp," said Nicholls, who lost the 2007 final to Charleswood's Jeff Stoughton. "I read what Mike (McEwen) said in the paper before this thing started. He said they were playing not to lose (last year) and I think you've got to go out there and play to win.
"You can't get tight and worry about losing. You've got to go and throw and be confident. Dean (Dunstone) and I talked a little bit about that. We just go out and play and see what happens. It's a mindset, you just have to go out and say, 'Hey, we can play with the big boys and not worry about the results, just throw the rocks.' Just remain confident the way we were a couple of years ago when we could have maybe beaten Jeff, but didn't."
Staying sharp is why second James Kirkness and lead Wayne Sigurdson got in a little extra work.
Nicholls qualified for the playoff round quicker than he did the last few years, which gave his foursome a welcomed rest.
"It's a new game now that we're in the Final 8 and we'll have to be at our best," Nicholls said. "We're where we want to be right now so, we're happy."
REBOUND: Three of the four losers in the A-side qualifiers rebounded to qualify on the B side -- namely Assiniboine Memorial's third-seeded Mike McEwen, Beausejour's Daley Peters and Carruthers. Granite's unranked Bob Sigurdson also upset Petersfield's Dave Boehmer 8-1 to qualify.
"We were pretty bad this morning," said McEwen, who was upended by West Kildonan's Brendan Taylor in an extra end. "It was not pretty. But it shows how much character we have that, even though we were pretty poor this morning, they still had a lot of trouble beating us."
McEwen then eliminated Hamiota's Kelly Skinner 5-2.
"This was a better," McEwen said. "We weren't playing well even in our first two wins and it's tough when you're only playing one game a day."
REFRESHED: The Carruthers squad was also terrible against Nicholls in the morning.
"We went home, got some rest and re-grouped," said Carruthers who missed the playoffs for the first time with his old team last year. "So back in the Final 8, we're feeling good ... and we've got another leg."
BACK ON BOARD: Sigurdson missed the championship round in five of his last six trips to the provincials.
"It's a big achievement for us," he said. "We always fall a game or two short here or there.
"We still have to make it through the weekend. Now, you re-set your goals again."
BITER: Canadian junior women's champion Kaitlyn Lawes was practising with her team here during an afternoon draw.