MORRIS -- Randy Dutiaume was just an inch or so away from having a great weekend at the Manitoba Curling Tour Championship.
Needing a win to earn a berth for the Safeway Championship, the veteran skip fell short against Brandon's Rob Fowler in the men's MCT championship final at the Morris Curling Club, dropping a 5-3 decision Sunday evening.
Dutiaume's slight but fatal mistake came in the sixth end. Facing multiple Fowler stones and without the hammer, the Thistle skip came in a bit too thick on a double take-out try with his first throw, leaving the Brandon skip an opportunity to simply push Dutiaume's yellow stone outside of the eight-foot with last rock to score three in the end.
That made it 4-2 Fowler with two ends to play -- a disadvantage that Dutiaume couldn't make his way back from.
"That's what happens in big games against good teams," he said after the game. "You make one slight mistake and they turn out to be the difference. Even if we would have given up a deuce there, we were still in the game. The three hurt us. Good teams always make you pay."
Dutiaume's team -- a new foursome this season made up of third Peter Nicholls, second Dean Moxham, and lead Wayne Sigurdson -- will now have to look to this weekend's provincial regional qualifiers to gain an invite to the men's provincial championships in Dauphin in February.
Though they lost the final and the provincial berth, his team did go 5-2 over the weekend. That's a positive sign, according to Dutiaume.
"The great thing about our team is that we're all a little older so we forget things quicker," he laughed. "We don't get too up or too down. These guys I have now, they've been around the block a hundred times. They know where to miss -- it's not always what you make it's what you leave.
"As for this weekend, I find it always a bit of a crapshoot playing in the city zones. There are a lot of good teams and you have to get on a roll."
Dutiaume's loss means Sean Grassie (Deer Lodge) earns a berth to Dauphin via the points system. William Lyburn (Deer Lodge) earned the other points berth prior to the Morris event.
Dutiaume, a former Manitoba champion (2005), was the only finalist to leave Morris without a berth to the provincial championship.
Fowler, who earned $2,500 for the win Sunday, picked up an invite just by advancing to the qualifying round Saturday night, while in the women's draw, both Cathy Overton-Clapham (Fort Rouge) and Chelsea Carey (Morden) had berths sewn up before the playoff round started.
Carey earned the only women's berth by advancing to the qualifying round. She later went on to beat Overton-Clapham 5-4 in the MCT Championship final.
Fowler earned his berth to the Safeway Championship Saturday night. His rink just needed to qualify for the playoff round, so once they accomplished that the pressure was off.
"At the end of the day when you're at a cash bonspiel, you want to win the thing," said Fowler, whose rink fell short in the MCT championship final a year ago. "We haven't closed out too many bonspiels this season.
"We seem to do well right up until the semifinal or final, so to win here gives us some confidence heading into next weekend."
Fowler is playing in the 18-team BDO Canadian Open in Kingston, Ont. (Dec. 14-18), where first place nets the winner a cool $40,000 paycheque. Jeff Stoughton and Mike McEwen are the other Manitoba rinks participating in the Grand Slam of Curling event.