KAMLOOPS, B.C. — Manitoba’s Jeff Stoughton finally figured out a way to beat Quebec here at the Tim Hortons Brier Sunday morning. Unfortunately, the answer didn’t come until the bronze-medal game.
Quebec’s Jean-Michel Menard — who owned Stoughton here over the last week, defeating Manitoba first in the round-robin and then eliminating them in the page playoff 3 vs. 4 game on Saturday — was no match for Manitoba Sunday, falling behind 7-0 after just four ends en route to a 9-5 loss.
With the bronze-medal victory, Manitoba picks up a cheque for $30,000 and 30 points on the Canadian Team Ranking System, while Quebec earns $20,000 and 20 CTRS points.
That’s not a bad payday by curling standards, but it was all cold comfort for a Manitoba team for whom anything less than victory in this evening’s Brier final was going to be a disappointment today.
"Yeah, I’m cranky about it," said Stoughton, who thinks the bronze medal game is superfluous in the page playoff system. "That’s what the 3-4 game is for -- you lose it and you finish fourth. And then, we had the hammer today instead of Quebec (because Manitoba had the better round-robin record), which is also funny.
"It’s a game neither of us want to play, neither of us have any interest in, neither of us are focussed out there at all...We got on the right side of him missing, but it easily could have gone the other way where we were crashing and burning."
Menard said his team had hit the wall before they ever set foot on the ice against Manitoba Sunday morning.
"We ran out of gas, quite frankly," said Menard, who shot just 55 percent before lifting himself from the game after the fifth end. "I was personally totally mentally exhausted. Playing two back-to-back games yesterday then having only 5 hours sleep because of the time change -- it was really tough and unfortunately we weren’t very focussed, especially me."
The Stoughton foursome still has two events to play this winter -- a major Grand Slam event next weekend in Fort McMurray and then the Players Championship next month. Stoughton repeated on Sunday that he wants to continue to curl next winter but the future of his team is uncertain.
There is just one final game still to be played at this Brier -- tonight’s final between Alberta’s Kevin Koe and BC’s John Morris.
BC is attempting to win their first Brier since 2000 here tonight, while Alberta is attempting to win the province’s 26th Brier championship and move within one of Manitoba’s record of 27.