Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION
Posted: 02/3/2014 2:04 AM | Comments: 0
Last Modified: 02/3/2014 7:49 AM | Updates
He made it look easy -- again.
Winnipeg skip Jeff Stoughton won his 11th Manitoba men's curling championship on Sunday, defeating provincial rival Mike McEwen 8-3 in the final of the Safeway Championship at the MTS Iceplex.
A pair of three-enders -- one in the first end and one in the final end -- bookended the latest triumph for a man who has made the Manitoba competitive curling scene his own private playground for the past two decades.
It was Stoughton's 11th Manitoba men's title in 12 trips to the final -- and the third time he beat McEwen in the final since 2010.
With the victory, Stoughton and his team -- third Jon Mead, second Reid Carruthers and lead Mark Nichols -- will represent Manitoba at the Brier in Kamloops, March 1-9.
-- 2014 Manitoba men's curling champion Jeff Stoughton
"It's pretty exciting to be able to go back to a place where we had some good history," said Stoughton, who won his first of three Briers in Kamloops in 1996. "Hopefully that building is packed and we're having a great time."
Stoughton said there was also an extra-special satisfaction in winning this title after having celebrated a milestone birthday in the past year. "It's kind of cool to be a 50-year-old and get to go to the Brier," said Stoughton.
"The guys keep bugging me -- I get good deals in the buffet line."
The loss was a bitter pill to swallow for McEwen, who has now appeared in four of the last five provincial men's curling finals but lost all four of them -- including three to Stoughton in 2010, 2011 and now 2014. The other loss was to Rob Fowler in 2012.
"I don't know if they get harder. It gets more aggravating," McEwen said after the game. "They're a great team -- I'm not going to take anything away from how they played. But, we're a great team, too, and I think we deserve to be on the national level.
-- skip Mike McEwen on Stoughton's dominance
"But we've got a giant to go through in Manitoba. That's the way it is. It's just a massive amount of patience on our part and we're going to have to wait longer."
Stoughton was asked if he had any empathy for the agonies he has put his rival through in three finals. True to form, Stoughton was blunt in his reply. "No. You've got to play your best at the right time," said Stoughton. "And it's going to come -- it's just not there yet."
McEwen got a more empathetic hearing, however, from Mead. "You can see it in their faces -- they don't seem to get any breaks," said Mead, who was sensational on Sunday and showed once again why he is widely considered one of the sport's premier big-game players.
"They got about as little out of some well-thrown rocks today as they possibly could. They deserved a better fate."
In addition to victories over McEwen in three provincial finals, Stoughton also beat McEwen in the 2013 semifinal and in the Page playoff 1 vs. 1 game on Saturday night, a victory that vaulted Stoughton straight to Sunday's final.
With the loss to Stoughton on Saturday, McEwen had to first beat Willie Lyburn in Sunday morning's semifinal just to advance to the final. But he did that, and McEwen said after the final he fully expected to carry a strong performance by his team against Lyburn into the final game against Stoughton.
"I felt good about today. I fully expected to win," reflected McEwen.
McEwen's optimism appeared well-placed -- for the grand total of the first half of the first end. But with McEwen rocks nicely placed and an opening-end McEwen steal looking like it was in play, Mead jumped all over a miscue by McEwen third B.J. Neufeld, triggering a chain of events that flipped the end and ultimately resulted in a three-ender for Stoughton.
McEwen never recovered and trailed by as much as 5-1 after the fourth end. But his team continued to battle and had narrowed Stoughton's lead to 5-3 after the seventh end, only to give up another three-ender in the eighth end that prompted handshakes.
It was all sweet vindication for a Stoughton team who vowed after their Olympic dreams were dashed at the Roar of the Rings earlier this winter they would salvage something out of all the work and effort they put into this season.
"This wasn't on our agenda. We were hoping to be where (Sochi-bound) Jennifer Jones is right now," said Carruthers. "But we took a break after the Trials and didn't throw for a while. And then we got back together and refocused and got fired up again to get back to the Brier."
firstname.lastname@example.org Twitter: @PaulWiecek
Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition February 3, 2014 C1
Updated on Monday, February 3, 2014 at 7:49 AM CST: Replaces photo
Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories? Please use the form below and let us know.
Having problems with the form?Contact Us Directly
Another nail-biter for Blue
B.C. chief's pay and expenses nears $1 million
Man who died in Stella Avenue standoff was ordered to vacate house after dispute with relatives
Drunk driver gets 4 1/2 years for deadly crash
Committee endorses $25-million upgrade for Kilcona Park
Gaza truce comes after days of pushing for a deal
Manitoba tribute for a Canadian icon
High court warns against police stings
Higher bacon prices are staying: Maple Leaf
Family finds old human skull in garage
Regulator bans exclusivity in roaming deals
Cyberattack breached personal data: watchdog
Police looking for man after attempted abduction
Candidate goes homeless to show economic gap
Fridays of long weekends the deadliest days to be on the road
Player ordered to trial for fatal punch of referee
Winnipeg airport shows off refurbished second runway
MTYP hires new artistic director
US warns against travelling to Ebola-hit countries
NASA to test making rocket fuel ingredient on Mars
Contract talks in Met Opera labour dispute extended
MTS sees slight decline in revenue and slight increase in profit in second quarter
Top 20 Concert Tours from Pollstar
Unfairly convicted man can sue police, Crown
Demoted worker shoots CEO, kills self in Chicago
Target taps outsider as CEO for needed shakeup
'Godfather of Makeup' Dick Smith dead at 92
Moncton shootings suspect fit to stand trial
US, UN announce deal on 72-hour Gaza cease-fire
Preview of Folklorama at News Café today
Study traces dinosaur evolution into early birds
Fahmy imprisoned in Egypt weighs appeal
See-through mice reveal details of inner anatomy
W. Africa Ebola outbreak tops 700 deaths
World Cup predicting sloth rejects honours
Man dies in rollover
Drivers don't care that 60 means 60
Kellogg's sales hurt as dieters drop Special K
Winnipegger to be inducted into soccer hall of fame
Improving defence a work in progress