Penny Barker and her Moose Jaw Curling Centre rink have played many a game over the past year where it was either win or go home.
So it makes perfect sense that Barker, third Christie Gamble, second Jenna Enge and lead Danielle Sicinski would feel right at home in the brand-new single-elimination PointsBet Invitational currently underway in Fredericton, N.B.
And just as true to form was how the Barker foursome picked up their first win at the event on Thursday afternoon -- a come-from-behind rally not unlike what they put together on several occasions while winning the Viterra Scotties Tournament of Hearts this past spring.
Facing Ontario’s Hollie Duncan in their first-round match, Barker found herself trailing 8-3 after five ends, thanks to a Duncan three-spot in the fourth and steal of two in the fifth.
The two-time Scotties national competitor slowly chipped away after the break, though, putting up a deuce of her own in the sixth and steals of one the next two ends to get back within a single point.
Duncan only managed to pick up one with the hammer in the ninth, and sure enough, Barker would take advantage, scoring three in the final end for a 10-9 win.
Things most certainly won’t get any easier from here, thanks to the Invitational’s unique format -- 16 of the top teams on the World Curling Team Ranking system are playing in the event, with Barker earning the 10th seed. Teams receive $3,000 for a first-round win, $6,000 for a victory in the quarter-final, $12,000 for a semifinal win with $24,000 going to the tournament champion, for an overall haul of $50,000 going to the winner.
Barker will face Manitoba’s Kaitlyn Lawes in their Elite Eight match on Friday morning, with the winner of that bout moving on to face the winner of Alberta’s Kristie Moore and Ontario’s Rachel Homan in the semifinal on Saturday. The title game is set for Sunday morning.