KAMLOOPS -- Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton is going to have to take the long route to Sunday’s Brier final.
A 7-5 loss by Alberta’s Kevin Koe to Quebec’s Jean-Michel Menard on the final round-robin draw here at the Tim Hortons Brier this morning means Manitoba finishes the round-robin in third place and will now have to play in Saturday afternoon’s 3 vs 4 game against Quebec.
Alberta will play BC’s John Morris in Friday night’s 1 vs 2 game.
While Manitoba finished the round-robin with the same 9-2 record as BC and Alberta, Stoughton was relegated to third place by tiebreakers.
The first tiebreaker -- the three teams’ round-robin records against each other -- solved nothing because all three teams were 1-1 against each other during the week.
That brought the second tiebreaker into play -- the cumulative distance of pre-game draws to the button that teams have been doing here all week to determine hammer in the first end. Manitoba trailed both BC and Alberta in that category and so was seeded third heading into the playoffs.
It’s an unfortunate finish for Manitoba. The teams in tonight’s 1-2 game get two chances at advancing to the Brier final, with the winner advancing straight to the final while the loser gets a second chance in Saturday night’s semifinal against the winner of the 3-4 game.
Stoughton’s opponent in tomorrow’s sudden-death 3-4 game will be Quebec, who finished the round-robin in fourth place at 7-4.
Menard is the 2006 Brier champion. Quebec defeated Manitoba 9-7 when the two teams met in the round-robin Tuesday morning.
Stoughton is attempting to win his fourth Brier here this weekend at the age of 50 -- and in the same arena where he won his first one back in 1996. Stoughton has played in two of the last three Brier finals, winning in 2011 en route to his second world championship and losing last year to Northern Ontario’s Brad Jacobs, who went on to win gold in Sochi last month.