Worth not making trip

JIM BENDER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

STEINBACH -- Back in 2006, Jeff Stoughton was competing at the Manitoba men's provincial championship in a fog right here in the Automobile City, still reeling from the effects of losing the 2005 Olympic trials final.

Yet he forced himself and his teammates to watch the Opening Ceremonies of the 2006 Olympic Games that they had just missed making between games.

Stoughton is back in Steinbach as the defending champ after losing the semifinal at the 2009 Olympic trials to Ontario's Glenn Howard.

And while last night's Opening Ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Games were going on, his foursome was busy reeling off its fourth straight victory to advance to Saturday's A-side qualifier of the Safeway Championship against Beausejour's Jason Gunnlaugson.

"There's a lot of difference between losing the final and semifinal," Stoughton said after sinking La Salle's Randy Neufeld 6-2 in six ends at the T.G. Centre. "In 2005 at the trials, we were the favourites to win that game (against Newfoundland's Brad Gushue) and this time, we weren't the favourite. (Alberta's Kevin) Martin and Howard were favoured by a lot. So it was just a different mentality and it didn't hurt as much when we lost because the expectation was that you hoped to win but you didn't expect to win."

Then, he added facetiously: "But yeah, someone asked me before and I said we chose to be in Steinbach rather than Vancouver. So, you know, we love Manitoba."

But he has already gotten more serious on the ice.

"When you get this far, you've got to play better," said Stoughton. "We're hitting on all cylinders, so hopefully we can carry it over until (Saturday) and Sunday if we get that far."

Gunnlaugson clipped West Kildonan's Brendan Taylor 9-6 and knows Stoughton now stands in his way.

"He's decent," Gunnlaugson said with a laugh. "I mean, it's the Jeff and Mike McEwen Show so far, so hopefully we can avoid what the other teams have been doing and that's getting pretty slaughtered.

"We've played Jeff before and won some games against him. We know what we have to do to win but that's not easy, but that's what we'll try to do (Saturday) ... Every game here has been a step in the right direction."

Kept pace

Assiniboine Memorial's McEwen kept pace with an 8-4 victory over David Hamblin of Morris while clubmate Kerry Burtnyk beat Brandon's Allan Lyburn 11-8.

McEwen will face Burtnyk in the other A-side qualifier. The winners will advance to the Page playoff one-versus-one game Saturday at 7 p.m.

The four losers drop to B-side semi-finals to be played Saturday at 9 a.m. The B finals go Saturday at 2 p.m. The two-two playoff will be played at 7 p.m.

jim.bender@sunmedia.ca


Videos

Photos