Rock and a hard place

TODD SAELHOF, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:47 AM ET

Cheryl Bernard is reaching back into history for a touch of optimism after a fourth loss at the 2009 Scott Tournament of Hearts in Victoria.

A finalist at the 1996 event in Thunder Bay, Ont., she skipped her Alberta team into good shape after suffering three early losses.

"When we were here in '96, we were out of it at one point," said Bernard, who's in charge again of this year's Alberta champion.

"And then we ended up getting back in, rolling off a bunch of wins ... it's just not impossible.

"That's what I keep telling everybody."

After a fourth loss yesterday afternoon at the national curling championship, she'll need to continue to preach the positive. Bernard and Co. finished 1-1 in yesterday's action to put them in danger of missing the playoffs.

Alberta is one of five teams with 5-4 records. B.C., which is leading the way at 8-1, sits on top ahead of Team Canada and Saskatchewan, who share second spot with 6-3 records heading into today's play.

Yesterday morning, Bernard ended a two-game losing streak with an 11-4 drubbing of New Brunswick's Andrea Kelly in a game shortened to seven ends.

But in the afternoon, the Alberta foursome was edged 7-6 by Saskatchewan's Stefanie Lawton.

Bernard put the morning game away early, scoring four points with the hammer in the opening end and adding three more in the third.

The foursome of Bernard, third Susan O'Connor, second Carolyn Darbyshire and lead Cori Bartel finished at a tournament-best 95% for the game, with Darbyshire recording just the second 100% performance of the tournament.

But the afternoon draw against Saskatchewan proved to be a different game.

Alberta struggled to make the shots when needed, while Lawton's team executed the clutch hits and draws.

Bernard herself had troubles, especially in the eighth end when she flashed on the last rock to give Lawton a draw for two. While Lawton was nearly heavy with the hammer, the Saskatchewan skip's shot stopped just in time to give her team a count of two and a 5-4 advantage.

Lawton and Co. then stole one in the ninth after a couple of Alberta misses to extend their lead by two coming home.

Bernard did make a big shot to get two back in the 10th and force an extra end.

The veteran skip hit a Saskatchewan's shot rock on the nose in the back of the 12-foot and stuck around to count two by a hair.

But in the extra end, Bernard was too strong on a draw to the four-foot with her last rock in an attempt to steal the victory. Saskatchewan was left with shot rock, and Lawton didn't have to throw the hammer.

In other action yesterday, defending champion Team Canada, skipped by Winnipeg's Jennifer Jones, turned in a lopsided 10-3 victory over Quebec. But Jones lost in the afternoon draw, dropping an 8-4 decision to Newfoundland/Labrador.

Lawton continued her strong play last night, beating New Brunswick 10-4.

TODD.SAELHOF@SUNMEDIA.CA


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