KAMLOOPS -- Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton will take a three-game winning streak into his final two round-robin games here at the Tim Hortons Brier on Thursday.
Stoughton defeated Saskatchewan’s Steven Laycock 7-4 Wednesday afternoon to improve to 7-2 and position his Manitoba team alone in third place heading into a critical matchup Thursday morning against B.C.’s John Morris.
Morris is alone in first place at 8-1 heading into Thursday, followed by Alberta’s Kevin Koe at 7-1.
Stoughton also won earlier on Wednesday -- 9-6 over Northern Ontario -- and Manitoba is now done for the day.
After a shaky start to this event, Stoughton is now firing on all cylinders, authoring his two best performances of the week in his team’s last three games -- shooting 96 percent in the win over Saskatchewan and 95 percent in Tuesday’s win over Nova Scotia. Stoughton shot 86 in the win over Northern Ontario.
Manitoba lead Reid Carruthers says his team is drawing confidence from the play of their skip. "Jeff played outstanding today. We just have to keep setting them up and hopefully he’ll keep cleaning the table," said Carruthers.
Stoughton said he likes where his team’s game is at heading into their final two round-robin games. Manitoba finishes its round-robin Thursday night with a game against Ontario’s Greg Balsdon.
"It just took us a little while to get into the groove and get used to the ice and the rocks and everything else," said Stoughton. "But I think everyone is starting to feel a little more confident and it shows out there. There’s not as much hesitation -- it’s just go and make some shots."
Ontario and Saskatchewan are tied for fourth place at 4-3 heading into Wednesday’s evening draw, followed by NWT’s Jamie Koe and Quebec’s Jean-Michel Menard at 3-4.
Meanwhile, with an 8-3 loss to New Brunswick Wednesday morning, P.E.I. fell to 3-5 and became the fourth and final team that will have to play its way back into the Brier next year as part of a new format.
Nova Scotia, at 0-8, was also relegated earlier this week. Those two provinces will join Nunavut and Yukon in a special 4-team playoff that will take place immediately prior to the start of next year’s Brier in Calgary.
Only one team will advance from the special playoff to compete in the actual Brier, while the other three teams will be sent home.