LONDON - Caution, boosters of the Buffalo Boys.
A rip-roaring 4-0 start by Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton at this calibre of Brier is good stuff, but the heavy lifting on its way.
“We’re not excited yet,” Manitoba lead Steve Gould warned after Stoughton pounded Eddie MacKenzie’s Prince Edward Island crew 9-4 Sunday night at the John Labatt Centre. “We’ll get excited (next) Sunday (after the final).
“We came here to win this and have fun.”
It didn’t turn out so fun last time Stoughton, third Jon Mead and Gould were down this road. They won their opening four games five years ago in Regina, capping the run with a victory over Alberta’s Kevin Martin.
But then, the wheels fell off. They gave it all back by losing their next four, finished up the round-robin 6-5 and didn’t make the playoffs. A year later, Mead took his break from the Stoughton group to curl with Wayne Middaugh.
“(In 2006), it was more smoke and mirrors with our team,” Gould said. “We didn’t play that well and the only one we did in that four was against Martin.”
They’re clicking on all cylinders now in London.
They haven’t needed to play 10 ends yet.
They’ve scored 36 times in four games.
They crushed B.C.’s Jim Cotter 10-4 in their opener, buried James Grattan and New Brunswick 9-4 and dumped Nova Scotia 8-3 before dismantling MacKenzie.
It’s the most impressive Manitoba Brier beginning since Dale Duguid rolled to five straight wins at home in Winnipeg in 1998. He ended up losing the semifinal to Quebec’s Guy Hemmings, who dropped the final to Middaugh.
“Good start so far,” said Stoughton, who faces Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs Monday afternoon. “It’s a case where our opponents have been getting some half-misses and we’re jumping on those mistakes.”
The biggie was Stoughton’s angle-raise for five in the fourth end to break open a tie game. Gould showed some early enthusiasm, celebrating once his skip’s shot edged past a guard.
“Once it got through, that was the shot,” Gould said. “Jeff set that one up (the shot before) and once he did that, they couldn’t get out of jail.”
Has Stoughton been fortunate with a light early schedule? A lot of his foes so far have been Brier newbies.
“I don’t think you take anyone lightly here,” Stoughton said. “You’d be a fool. You just want to make sure you stay in control of the game. You don’t want to let them get one or two up.
“It’d be nice if we can get to six, seven, eight (wins) here because we know it only gets tougher.”
No. 9 would be on Wednesday against Martin, who’s riding a 29-game Brier win streak. Ontario’s Glenn Martin and Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue are still on Manitoba’s dance card.
Stoughton is the last one to beat Martin — 6-3 in the 3-4 playoff game at the Hamilton Brier in 2007.
“An hour after (beating him), it’d mean nothing,” said Gould, who’s playing in his sixth Brier. “You’re just trying to keep it going. We’ve got a team here where Jon (Mead) and I have been friends for a long time. We grew up down the street from each other and our fifth (Garth Smith) did, too. And we have (second) Reid (Carruthers), a young guy who brings a lot of energy.
“It’s been a good group to play with.”
The best, say the standings so far, at this Brier.