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Manitoba capitalizes on early misses from Quebec to claim bronze at Brier

Team Manitoba skip Jeff Stoughton celebrates his team's bronze medal finish after defeating team Quebec with third Jon Mead during the bronze medal draw at the 2014 Tim Hortons Brier curling championships in Kamloops, British Columbia March 9, 2014.

BEN NELMS/REUTERS

It was a game neither skip wanted to play, but a series of missed shots by Quebec gift-wrapped the bronze-medal match for Manitoba Sunday at the Canadian men's curling championship.

Manitoba's Jeff Stoughton won 9-5 in nine ends after scoring two in the first and stealing two in the second on a missed Quebec runback at the Tim Hortons Brier.

He stole another in the third on a gentle Quebec hit that overcurled and two more in the fourth on Jean-Michel Menard's tap-back attempt that barely brushed Manitoba's stones.

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It put Manitoba up 7-0 going into five.

Menard drew for one finally in five and raised his arm in a good-natured salute to the applause of the half-filled arena.

He let alternate Pierre Charette skip eight and he stole two to keep the game going when Stoughton missed a hit for one. Manitoba also put alternate Garth Smith in at lead.

Neither skip was up for the game and both suggested it shouldn't even be part of the Brier.

"I was personally totally mentally exhausted," said Menard.

"Playing two back-to-back games, having only five hours sleep because of the time change . . .We weren't really focused, expecially me, and it cost us early in a few ends."

Stoughton minimized the win and said they weren't really focused either.

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"We got lucky in the first end. If he makes his shot they probably steal two and they win the game," he said.

"It's a disappointing game to play because you're not going to win the Brier. It's a game that Quebec and Manitoba didn't want to play. It's not a game that anyone wants to play."

Menard agreed.

"I'll try to be nice, but this game shouldn't exist, it's useless," he said.

Stoughton said the winner of the 3-4 playoff game should decide the bronze medal. That would have seen Quebec take it, since they beat Manitoba to qualify for the semifinal.

Menard's five-game winning streak overcame his weak 3-4 start at the Brier to get him into fourth spot and the playoffs. He then defeated Stoughton 7-6 Saturday as missed shots allowed Quebec to steal two for a three-point lead in their playoff game.

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But he lost 9-8 in the semifinal later Saturday to Alberta and Kevin Koe, who plays John Morris and British Columbia Sunday evening for the championship.

Stoughton finished in a three-way tie for the lead at the Brier at 9-2 but the way the tiebreaking formula was applied and pushed him out of the 1-2 playoff game, which B.C. took over Alberta.

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