Jeff Stoughton can finally exhale.
The Winnipeg curler won his first Capital One Canada Cup of Curling and booked his spot at the Roar of the Rings Olympic trials next December in his hometown with a 4-3 win over Glenn Howard Sunday at Mosaic Place.
“It’s been a tough grind this last week and I’m really proud of the guys,” said Stoughton. “I think it’s going to hit us in the next week that we finally did it and we don’t have to worry about anything at all for the rest of the year. Of course we want to go back to the Brier, but I think it’s going to be less stressful because we’ve got this spot. So yeah, it’s a relief.”
Howard had overcome an 0-2 start to get to the final after beating Mike McEwen 9-6 in Saturday’s semifinal.
Stoughton was the best team all week in Moose Jaw and earned a bye to the final after a 5-1 record in the round robin.
“It’s great that we peaked and performed at the right time at the right place. It’s a great feeling,” said Stoughton who had never advanced to a Canada Cup final before.
It was a low scoring final as both teams made some great shots to limit their opponents chances at a big end.
Howard scored two in the seventh to tie the game 3-3 and in the ninth he forced Stoughton to make a superb final shot to blank the end to retain the hammer.
“We had our chances,” said Howard. “To force him to one in nine would have been huge. He got his blank and Mark (Nichols) made two great pick shots in 10.”
Nichols is Stoughton’s lead and was the former third for Brad Gushue’s Olympic championship team. He moved to Winnipeg and joined the Stoughton rink this season. In the 10th end he made a pair of perfect picks on a pair of guards to open up the house for Stoughton’s final shot.
“As soon as we signed Mark on, we said our first objective was to win the Canada Cup,” said Stoughton.
“When he makes those it makes my job a lot easier. Though now the pressure is really on me because I should hopefully have a pretty easy shot to win the game.
“Mark’s been making those all year. He’s been phenomenal. We’ve been keeping track and he’s only missed it once.”
Neither side missed many shots all afternoon. The Howard rink shot 88 per cent in the final and the Stoughton rink shot 87 per cent.
Moose Jaw set a new attendance record for the Canada Cup. A total of 33,160 spectators came to Mosaic Place over the course of the five-day event. That bested the previous record of 27,444 set by Yorkton in 2009.