Stoughton's roaring back in Edmonton

CON GRIWKOWSKY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:21 PM ET

Clear the easier track, here comes Jeff Stoughton.

If you had to pick a team with the best chance to grab the third playoff spot at the Tim Hortons Roar of the Rings, you’d have to consider Stoughton.

Other than Glenn Howard and Kevin Martin, that is.

Stoughton’s Winnipeg team was a bit unlucky to only come out with a 2-2 record against what he termed the heavyweights.

Make a draw against Glenn Howard in the opener and throw away two picked rocks against Kevin Martin Tuesday night and it may have been a much clearer picture.

One thing was clear, though. Heading into Wednesday’s action. Stoughton’s last three games were against squads with a combined 1-11 record.

He easily handled winless Jason Gunnlaugson Wednesday.

When Kevin Koe and Randy Ferbey dropped their games, Stoughton matched their 3-2 records in a three-team pack looking for the final playoff spot.

“We just have to win our two games Friday and keep playing on Friday,” said Stoughton. “It depends what that game will be — a semifinal or a tiebreaker. We have to take care of our business and we know we’ll be in something, that’s for sure.”

Stoughton wraps up Thursday’s schedule against Wayne Middaugh and Pat Simmons, who have a combined 2-8 record.

“You probably need a break or two,” said Stoughton. “Right now, we’ve got things rolling and we just have to win our two games. That’s all we can do is take care of ourselves.”

He’s got the best setup man in the field. Edmonton’s Kevin Park has been pretty consistent, shooting around 90%.

“He’s a great third, that’s why we got him,” said Stoughton. “He’s got great shotmaking ability and he can make every shot out there. Perfect draw, perfect freeze, hack weight, nice weight, peels, doubles, anything. That’s what we wanted — a guy who can make all the shots. He comes with the experience in the big games, so it’s just been a great match. It’s been fantastic.”

Park kinda played down to the level of the opposition Wednesday shooting just 75% to lose his rating as top third.

“As long as we keep ourselves in the game, we should be OK,” said Park. “You can’t any of these guys too lightly at this point.”

Park knows the team is in a good situation. The way the schedule is set up, it’s impossible for some of the top teams not to drop down.

“The top teams are all playing each other right now,” said Park. “You know guys are going to be dropping down in each draw. There’s no panic or anything on our part. We just have to make sure we win.

“With a few breaks and a little bit of luck, you’re 4-1 or 5-0 instead of 3-2. You have to try to make up for that somewhere down the line.”

With the three wins, Park has now tied his career trials record in two previous appearances.

“Five wins,” said Park. “I don’t think we can afford to lose another one. It’s just like a bonspiel where it’s sudden death. Just go out and get the job done.”


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