LETHBRIDGE, Alta. -- They can grow them tough here in cattle country.
With her back against the fence and about to be branded a major disappointment, Alberta's Cheryl Bernard has emerged bloodied but unbowed at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
Bernard beat Nova Scotia's winless Jill Mouzar 10-6 at the Enmax Centre yesterday to post her third straight victory and revive her playoff hopes.
"Yes, it's a bloody battle," agreed Bernard, who moved into a tie for fifth-place with B.C.'s Kelley Law with a 4-3 record.
Down 1-3 in the early going, Bernard has played better with her playoff hopes on the ropes.
"I don't want to say that, but we do tend to do that when we do get into C events and stuff like that," said Bernard, supported by third Susan O'Connor, second Carolyn Darbyshire (a transplanted Manitoban) and Cori Bartel. "But I don't like to put us there. It's not where we want to be. We're there and we're battling so that's where we stay."
A pre-tournament favourite, Bernard seemed dazed and confused when the Hearts started. She seemed much more at ease after winning both games yesterday.
"I'm playing better, that's the biggest part of it," said Bernard, who also defeated New Brunswick's winless Sandy Comeau 8-4. "Why I wasn't before, I don't know -- struggling with ice and second-guessing stuff. Now, I feel confident when I put the broom down that I know what's going to happen. The ice isn't swinging so crazy now. It's pretty consistent so, I'm enjoying that and we're playing a lot better as a team."
This could be deja vu all over again as Bernard struggled in the early going of the 1996 nationals -- the last time she made it here -- then charged into the final.
"Yeah, it does seem like that," she said. "I don't like to do it this way but it does seem like we're coming on strong. We're getting on a roll now and hopefully we can keep on a roll. We've got a lot of tough teams to play so, our destiny's in our own hands. Hopefully, we can go on and take care of that.
"Maybe we're starting go up rather than going the other way."
Meanwhile, Manitoba's Jennifer Jones downed Law 11-5 to move into a three-way tie for top spot with Team Canada's Kelly Scott and Saskatchewan's Jan Betker all at 6-1.
"It's good," said Jones, the 2005 Canadian champ. "It's better than being tied for last. We're feeling good and I feel we're getting better and more precise, and that's what you want to do as the week goes on."
Ontario's Krista Scharf defeated Yukon/NWT's Kerry Koe 8-5 to take sole possession of fourth place at 5-2. Law fell to 4-3.
Betker rebounded from her first loss, to Newfoundland's Heather Strong, by clipping Quebec's Chantal Osborne 8-7 last night.