February 13, 2011
Stoughton heads to Brier
By KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency
BEAUSEJOUR, Manitoba - Jeff Stoughton did it again, just as he has done so many times before.
Eight times before, in fact.
The Charleswood skip won his ninth provincial men's curling title on Sunday afternoon in front of 1,400 spectators at Sun Gro Centre.
Stoughton beat top seed Mike McEwen 5-4 in the final for his record-tying third consecutive crown. Stoughton also beat McEwen in last year's final, 9-8 in extra ends.
Stoughton, Jon Mead, Reid Carruthers and Steve Gould will represent Manitoba in the Brier in London, Ont., next month. Stoughton won Canadian titles in 1996 and 1999.
"It doesn't get any better," Stoughton said. "This team has a fantastic chance (at the Brier)."
Gould also won his third straight Manitoba title on Sunday, and they joined Stoughton's former lead, Doug Armstrong, as the only men to have won three in a row.
Stoughton also improved to 9-1 in provincial finals, with his only loss coming against Swan River's Brent Scales in 2004.
McEwen went into the event as the favourite thanks to his impressive run on the World Curling Tour this winter. In fact, no team was better than McEwen, who beat Stoughton in three of four meetings this year.
But the Safeway Championship is a different animal, and the pressure of trying to win their first provincial men's crown was evident in the final.
The turning point came in the fifth when McEwen, needing an easy peel to blank, made a nose hit instead and trailed 3-2 at the break.
McEwen's frustration was evident when said "we gotta put the f------ broom in the right place" loudly enough for everyone watching at home on Shaw TV to hear.
McEwen still felt after Sunday's final that his team is the cream of Manitoba's crop.
"We still believe that we're the best chance for Manitoba to win a Brier," McEwen said.
Stoughton noted that it won't be happening this year.
"He can say what he likes," Stoughton said. "He's not going to the Brier yet, so maybe next year they'll have a good chance at it."
Stoughton blanked the sixth and seventh ends, and McEwen forced him into a single in the eighth to grab a 4-2 advantage.
McEwen tied the game with a deuce in the ninth, but Stoughton kept it clean in the 10th and needed only to draw to the eight foot for the win.
He made no mistake.
McEwen stole one in the first, but Stoughton found his footing and snagged two in the third to take the lead for good. He went up 3-1 in the fourth when McEwen came up well short on a draw to the four foot with his last rock.