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Brier final: Stoughton vs. Jacobs

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EDMONTON -- Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs will play Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton for a Canadian men’s curling championship here Sunday night in the final of the 2013 Tim Hortons Brier (7:30 p.m. CT, TSN).

Jacobs advanced to face Stoughton with a 9-7 win over Ontario’s Glenn Howard in Sunday morning’s Brier semifinal.

"Unbelievable -- I’m so proud of the guys," Jacobs told reporters.

A win tonight would be the first Brier title for Northern Ontario since 1985. Northern Ontario is also seeking to become just the second team to win a Brier after qualifying for the playoffs through the 3 vs 4 game. Alberta’s Kevin Koe did it for the first time in 2010.

"I was born in 1985," said Jacobs. "I think it’s time. But it’s a long day ahead of us, a long game coming up. We’ll see what happens, but I’m just pumped to be playing for the title."

Northern Ontario defeated Manitoba in the round-robin game between the two teams on Thursday evening. Manitoba shot 91 percent in that game, but Northern Ontario shot 92 percent and won 9-4.

Northern Ontario is red-hot coming into tonight’s final. Thursday’s win over Manitoba sparked what is now a five-game winning streak for Jacobs, that includes playoff wins over Newfoundland in the 3 vs 4 game Saturday evening and then over Ontario this morning. As a team, Northern Ontario has shot 92, 91, 89, 91 and 92 in their last five games.

Manitoba’s Stoughton is attempting to win his second Brier title in three years and fourth overall. Stoughton last won the Brier in 2011 and went on to win the world championship that year. Stoughton is 3-1 in four previous Brier finals and has never lost in a year in which he qualified through the 1 vs 2 game, as he did this year.

The Stoughton team’s players have a combined eight previous Brier final appearances; Northern Ontario has none.

Tonight’s final will include a reunion of sorts. Northern Ontario third Ryan Fry is a native Winnipegger and former Manitoba junior champion who played with Stoughton for several seasons ending in 2008.

With tonight’s appearance in the Brier final, Manitoba has now contested the final in all four major national curling championships this winter -- junior men’s, junior women’s, women’s and now men’s. Manitoba is 1-2 in those finals coming into tonight -- Matt Dunstone won a junior men’s title, but Shannon Birchard and Jennifer Jones lost junior women’s and women’s finals respectively.

Dunstone went on to win bronze at the World Juniors in Sochi this weekend.

Ontario’s semifinal loss put the exclamation mark on what was an epic collapse by the defending world champions here this weekend. After opening at 10-0, Howard lost his last three in a row, including a loss to Alberta on the final round-robin draw, a loss to Manitoba in the 1 vs 2 game -- that was made possible by a tactical blunder by Ontario in the final end -- and finally the loss to Northern Ontario today.

"The bottom line is their skip out-curled our skip," said Howard, who was out-curled 90-78 by Jacobs in the semifinal. "I feel bad -- I feel like I let the boys down."

Ontario will play Newfoundland’s Brad Gushue for a bronze medal Sunday afternoon.

The Stoughton team has a practice session this afternoon prior to the bronze medal game.

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