Loss takes back seat

Manitoba skip Jeff Stoughton apparently suspected something was up during the Brier final. (Sun...

Manitoba skip Jeff Stoughton apparently suspected something was up during the Brier final. (Sun Media/Darren Makowichuk)

JIM BENDER, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:30 AM ET

It was a "double whammy."

Jeff Stoughton's Manitoba team was on the podium after losing Sunday's Brier final to Alberta's Kevin Martin in Calgary when it was confirmed that Jack Stoughton, Jeff's dad, was in a Calgary hospital.

Jack Stoughton suffered a minor heart attack some time before the game.

"You find out that after losing that game, it is kind of like a double whammy," Manitoba second Rob Fowler said upon arriving in Winnipeg yesterday. "But it also puts things in perspective a little bit, too.

'Less significant'

"As disappointed as we were to lose, to come off the ice and find out that a family member's in the hospital makes a curling game seem a lot less significant than the fact that somebody's had a heart attack. That's a life-or-death situation."

Although those around the Manitoba skip tried to keep it from him, Stoughton apparently suspected something was up during the match.

"I didn't have the impression Jeff knew during the game but it made sense after the game because his dad used to come down before the game, but didn't," Fowler said.

"And there was one time between ends that Jeff was sitting looking through binoculars at the section where all of our fans and family were. Obviously, there was a reason he was looking -- because his mom and dad weren't there. So, I'm sure he was wondering what was happening. But he never gave any indication that he was distracted or that something was up."

Stoughton, who missed some key shots early in the final when Martin scored big, did not return with the team, remaining in Calgary with his mom and dad, who is apparently OK.

"I think he's fine," said Manitoba lead Steve Gould as he clutched his three-year-old son, Rylan.

"It was probably a good thing that they caught it when they did. I think he's had some heart problems in the past and he'll probably be fine."

Stoughton dashed to the hospital as soon as the closing ceremonies concluded at the Saddledome.

"Jeff came back to the hotel room (late Sunday) night and said his dad was resting," Gould said. "Jeff is more there to help with his mom and he's a little bit worried about her. At the end of the day, curling really doesn't mean a whole lot, does it?"

Jack Stoughton started watching the Brier final on TV in his hospital room but that just spiked his blood pressure so they had to turn it off, Gould said. Now, he is awaiting test results.

Stoughton still plans to fly home today, then drive to Yorkton, Sask., with Gould and Fowler to compete in the Canada Cup, which starts tomorrow.

"Jeff's going for sure," assured Gould.

Manitoba third Kevin Park, who had planned to return to Winnipeg with the others, will fly in from Edmonton with Martin on his sponsor's private jet.

Stoughton earned 30 Canadian Team Ranking System points for finishing second at the Brier and is closing in on both Alberta's Randy Ferbey and Kevin Koe in the race for the last two straight-through berths into the 2009 Canadian Curling Trials.

"Obviously, it's tough to lose Canada but we did get a little bit closer to the big prize, which is that Olympic trials spot," Gould said. "We're going to go to Yorkton (this week) and try to win the Canada Cup."

The same number of CTRS points are up for grabs at the Canada Cup as there were at the Brier.


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