MORRIS -- It has indeed been an emotional season for the Liza Park squad.
Not only did she lose her lead, Heather Mowat, who is still recovering from a serious vehicle accident but her own father, Roy Hathaway, was also involved in a car accident just before she started playing in her Scotties Tournament of Hearts rural zone.
"We've had quite a year, you know, as far as it being an emotional year for us," Park said after beating Maureen Bonar 9-4 in a battle of Brandonites at the Southern Manitoba Convention Centre yesterday.
Hathaway spent four weeks recovering in a Brandon hospital after rear-ending a semi-trailer but is here to support Park.
Tammy Mowat, who has replaced her sister, at lead, also lost her maternal grandmother just before Christmas. And her father, Alex, had a mild heart attack last summer.
So, if there are indeed curling gods, perhaps they will smile on Park and crew here this week.
"I don't know if we're the sentimental (favourite) or anything," she said. "You see the teams wearing their green ribbons (in tribute to the green-eyed Mowat) and that's great support. We love that."
But after all her team has been through, surely it deserves to end the week with a crown.
"I don't know if you deserve it so much as you earn it," replied Park, who was playing Fort Rouge's Darcy Robertson last night.
"We feel great. We're throwing awesome and we're confident right now. Hopefully, we can keep it going. We play all the top teams in the first half of the week so, they'll get us on our A game. That's the one thing about not being seeded, right? You start off on a roll and see those teams first, then you never know what can happen then, right?"
Park called Heather Mowat before the match.
"She said it was good to hear our voice, was wishing us luck and said she'll be following us and keeping an eye on us," she said.
Meanwhile, Manitou's Bev Atkins pulled off the upset of the day when she shocked Fort Rouge's defending champion Janet Harvey 10-8 in an extra end.
"It means a lot but we've been playing well and we really had her on the run most of that game," said Atkins, supported by third Cindy Wainikka, second Jackie McCannell and Jayme Cockbill. "We deserved to win.
"You always want to get two wins but when you're playing the top teams, I wanted to get out of this day with a split and this certainly puts us into a good position. This is a real confidence-booster for our team, no doubt."
Harvey, who won her opener, pulled the string on a draw attempt facing two.
"I personally didn't play well enough," she said. "My team played great and credit goes to (Atkins), too.
"You don't want to be 1-1 going into Day 2. It's only going to be harder to keep in. One loss, we're still going. The girls are playing great, I've just got to step it up a notch and we'll be fine."
Both St. Vital's Kristy Jenion and Fort Rouge's Shauna Streich were 2-0 before the late draw.
Play continues today with draws at 8:30 a.m., 12:15, 4 and 7:45 p.m.
Game of the day
* Manitou's Bev Atkins upended defending champion Janet Harvey of Fort Rouge 10-8 in an extra end. Atkins stole two in the extra end when Harvey's draw attempt to the four-foot failed to hit paint.
Today's feature match
* Brandon's sentimental favourite Liza Park against St. Vital's former national champion Jennifer Jones, who lost a lot of fans when she cut her lead, Dana Allerton, 12:15 p.m.