Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

It hasn't even been close

Stoughton pummels weak teams to lead at 4-0

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LONDON, Ont. — The numbers speak volumes, and the volume is ear-splitting:

Four games, four wins, in just 31 ends and by a combined total score of 36-15.

Winnipeg's Jeff Stoughton had a soft early schedule coming in here and Stoughton and his Manitoba foursome took full advantage of the schedule-maker's gift to lay down a remarkable series of beat-downs on opening weekend at the 2011 Tim Hortons Brier.

In four victories so far -- including an 8-3 thrashing of Nova Scotia's Shawn Adams Sunday morning and a 9-4 thumping of PEI's Eddie Mackenzie last night -- Stoughton has yet to even see a tenth end.

Stoughton dispatched Nova Scotia in just eight ends and PEI in seven ends, to go along with the seven ends it took him to drill BC 10-4 in his Brier opener on Saturday. The closest Stoughton has had to anything resembling a challenge was a nine-end game with New Brunswick's James Grattan Saturday night -- and he won that game 9-3.

Put it altogether and Stoughton is alone in first place at 4-0 heading into Manitoba's softest day of the round-robin, with just one game today against Northern Ontario's Brad Jacobs, 1-2.

Stoughton said the break comes at a perfect time, with the tougher part of his schedule now looming after drumming four opponents who enter today with a combined record of 2-12. "The meat and potatoes are coming in," Stoughton said last night, "so it'd be nice to be at 5-0 (today)."

The meat, of course, is reigning Olympic gold medallist Kevin Martin of Alberta, who comes into today as the only other remaining undefeated team at 3-0 and who Stoughton will face Wednesday night.

And the potatoes? Why that's local favourite Glenn Howard of Ontario, who bounced back from an opening draw loss to New Brunswick with back-to-back wins Sunday over Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan to improve to 2-1.

"That's our team," Howard said last night. "When we get rolling, we're going to be good. My guys are starting to make everything in front of me and I felt a lot more comfortable myself."

Stoughton plays Ontario Tuesday night and Manitoba third Jon Mead says his team has no illusions about the work still in front of them. "We have to be careful about patting ourselves on the back here too quickly," said Mead. "We have to be cognizant that the teams we've been playing don't have great records and haven't been playing great.

"What I take out of this is that we're making a lot of great shots and that's what it's going to take to win this thing. But it is going to get a lot tougher."

Manitoba has used a simple formula to victory thus far, a combination of ruthless efficiency -- their blistering 88 per cent team shooting percentage leads the field -- and the big end.

Stoughton authored a three-ender and a four-ender in the win over BC -- and then did the exact same thing the very next game against New Brunswick.

And then Sunday, a three-ender in the fourth end against Nova Scotia put Manitoba ahead for good. But the biggest of the big ends came Sunday night, when Stoughton used the final rock of the fourth end to fillet a PEI stone off the four foot and give Manitoba a five-ender and a 7-2 lead.

"I think we've carried our momentum over from provincials," said Manitoba second Reid Carruthers. "We were cruising there and we came into this event feeling like we were one of the better teams here.

"And I think we're just clicking right now."

 

LOOSE HAIRS: Ontario fifth Scott Howard -- son of Glenn -- made his Brier debut Sunday night, throwing two perfect guards in a tenth end relief appearance at lead during a 10-3 Ontario rout of Saskatchewan. "I don't know if you guys saw but I almost fell on my first slide out there," laughed Howard. "A little nervous."

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Brier in a box

Province (Skip) W L

Manitoba (Stoughton) 4 0

Alberta (Martin) 3 0

Ontario (Howard) 2 1

N.L. (Gushue) 2 1

Saskatchewan (Laycock) 2 1

Quebec (Gagne) 2 1

NWT/Yukon (Koe) 2 2

Northern Ont. (Jacobs) 1 2

B.C. (Cotter) 1 2

New Brunswick (Gratton) 1 3

Nova Scotia (Adams) 0 3

P.E.I. (MacKenzie) 0 4

 

Sunday Results

Third Draw

Manitoba 8 Nova Scotia 3

Fourth Draw

Alberta 8 British Columbia 2

Newfoundland 7 Northern Ontario 6

Ontario 7 Nova Scotia 4

Saskatchewan 8 Quebec 7

Fifth Draw

B.C. 6 Newfoundland & Labrador 5

Manitoba 9 P.E.I. 4

NWT / Yukon 8 New Brunswick 7

Ontario 10 Saskatchewan 3

Saturday Results

First Draw

Manitoba 10 British Columbia 4

Second Draw

Manitoba 9 New Brunswick 4

Monday

Sixth Draw, 8:30 a.m.

Saskatchewan vs. Newfoundland; Ontario vs. B.C.

Seventh Draw, 1:30 p.m.

P.E.I. vs. Alberta; Quebec vs. New Brunswick; Manitoba vs. N. Ontario; NWT/Yukon vs. Nova Scotia.

Eighth Draw, 6:30 p.m.

Quebec vs. Ontario; N.Ontario vs. B.C.; Nova Scotia vs. Saskatchewan; Newfoundland vs. Alberta.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 7, 2011 C3

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