Stoughton misses perfect record

Canada's third Jon Mead (left) leans back to avoid being hit by skip Jeff Stoughton's broom end...

Canada's third Jon Mead (left) leans back to avoid being hit by skip Jeff Stoughton's broom end during play against Norway. (REUTERS/Andy Clark)

KIRK PENTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:49 AM ET

REGINA -- Jeff Stoughton's week reached new heights in the 10th end on Thursday night.

Not only was he tied 6-6 coming home with the hammer against Norway at the world men's curling championship, but he learned his nine-member Team Canada entourage, including all four players, fifth, coach, two team leaders and driver, had just won the 50/50 draw worth $18,840 at Brandt Centre.

Life was grand -- until his final stone.

Stoughton was heavy on a draw attempt to the button, giving Thomas Ulsrud a steal for one, a 7-6 win and a berth in Friday's tiebreaker against France's Thomas Dufour, who beat the U.S. 9-7.

It left Stoughton at 10-1, preventing the Winnipegger from becoming the first team since Mark Dacey in 2004 to go undefeated in the round robin.

Sweden's Niklas Edin, who like France and Norway finished at 7-4, placed third based on draws to the button all week and will meet the Norway-France winner in Saturday's 3-4 game.

Dufour's triumph knocked Switzerland and Germany (6-5) out of playoff contention.

Stoughton, who already knew he would be meeting Scotland's Tom Brewster in Friday's 1-2 Page playoff game, had a chance to be the first perfect team in the round robin since 2004, but he wasn't worried about the loss.

"Both teams made really good shots, and I think we were more excited that we won the 50-50 draw. So that was pretty great," said Stoughton, who felt the 50-50 win didn't affect his team. "No concerns, no worries. Huge game (Friday) night, and we want to win the 1-2 game."

The winner of the 1-2 game goes directly to Sunday's final, while the loser meets the 3-4 victor on Saturday night.

Stoughton, the 1996 champ, has lost only one meaningful game now in three trips to the worlds, and that came against Scotland's Hammy McMillan in the 1999 gold-medal match in Saint John, N.B.

Brewster, who played with McMillan and also served as his fifth at the 2002 worlds, has seen the evidence from '99, so he knows it can be done.

"Hammy played third for me for a couple years. He always brings it up," Brewster, 36, said after clinching second place with a 6-1 win over France. "I know how he did it. I've seen the video. They played great that day, and that's the key.

"(But) I feel Jeff's got a stronger team this year. This is his best team I've seen. They're really solid."

Canada thumped Scotland 7-3 in its round-robin meeting on Tuesday. In fact, it has thumped almost everyone thanks to remarkably quick starts. Canada has led this week by a combined score of 13-3 after the first end and 47-28 at the fifth-end break.

"Reid and Steve are just setting things up so well," said third Jon Mead, whose squad will have the hammer on Friday. "We definitely try hard to get out of the gates. It's huge to get out of the gates well and get up, because the crowd might be giving us a half point in the first place."

Scotland's third, second and lead are 22, 21 and 22 years old, respectively, and this week is their first time playing in an arena and in front of more than 400 people. In other words, there's a chance the bright lights and sold-out Brandt Centre on Friday night could be a factor.

"Hopefully they're going to be nervous as hell and they play terribly, but they seem to be holding their own, obviously," Stoughton said with a bit of a chuckle. "But it's going to be the only sheet out there, sixty-five hundred cheering for Canada -- plus their 50 Scottish supporters, which are pretty loud -- so I think it's going to great."

Third Greg Drummond, who lost last year's Scottish junior men's and men's finals, doesn't sound too concerned about playing in front of the pro-Canadian crowd.

"It was loud back on Tuesday when we played Canada, but I'm guessing it's going to be a bit louder," he said. "We're looking forward to it."


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