Ne­do­hin com­ing off the bench for Alberta at Tour­na­ment of Hearts

Cape Breton Post - - SPORTS - BY DONNA SPENCER THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Hold­ing Alberta’s broom at the Cana­dian women’s curl­ing cham­pi­onship made Heather Ne­do­hin re­al­ize how much she missed it.

The 41-year-old quit com­pet­i­tive curl­ing two years ago af­ter two decades and a pair of na­tional ti­tles.

But the emer­gency call-up by Shan­non Kleib­rink has been the busiest al­ter­nate player at the Scot­ties Tour­na­ment of Hearts in St. Catharines, Ont.

Ne­do­hin skipped her sec­ond and third games for Alberta on Tues­day be­cause of Kleib­rink’s ail­ing back. Alberta’s record was 3-3 with Ne­do­hin in the house for two of those wins.

“I have to be hon­est. I never thought I’d be back,” Ne­do­hin said. “I’m go­ing to get emo­tional. It feels re­ally good to be back.

“For me, it’s harsh that’s Shan­non’s back is not feel­ing well, but at the same sense, some­thing was pre­sented to me and I’m just go­ing to roll with it.”

Al­ter­nates, or fifths, are in­sur­ance poli­cies against in­jury and ill­ness and gen­er­ally don’t play much.

But an­tic­i­pat­ing they would need her, Ne­do­hin also played lead in Alberta’s sec­ond game so she could get a feel for the Merid­ian Cen­tre ice.

She and Man­i­toba’s Michelle En­glot locked horns Tues­day un­til the 10th end when Ne­do­hin missed her at­tempt at a deuce to send the game into an ex­tra end.

En­glot pre­vailed 9-5 to stay un­beaten and even with On­tario’s Rachel Ho­man, who was also 6-0 with a 7-4 win over Kerry Galusha of North­west Ter­ri­to­ries.

Que­bec’s Eve Belisle got to 4-2, de­fend­ing cham­pion Chelsea Carey was at 4-1 and North­ern On­tario’s Krista McCarville was 3-2 all with games to play in the evening.

Galusha lost to both Man­i­toba and On­tario to fall to 3-3 along­side Alberta. Prince Ed­ward Is­land’s Robyn MacPhee and Sta­cie Cur­tis of New­found­land and Labrador were tied at 2-4.

Belisle downed Cur­tis 7-4 and MacPhee edged B.C.’s Marla Mal­lett 8-7 in the af­ter­noon draw. Mal­lett was win­less in six games.

The top four teams at the con­clu­sion of the round robin Fri­day morn­ing ad­vance to the Page play­off. Ties for fourth are solved by tiebreaker games. The fi­nal is Sun­day.

Ne­do­hin won the Hearts for Alberta as a skip (2012) and as third (1998).

Mar­ried to four-time Cana­dian and three-time world cham­pion David Ne­do­hin, she said in 2015 she wanted to spend more time with their daugh­ters and on her job as man­ager of the Sher­wood Park Curl­ing Club.

But two days prior to this year’s Alberta cham­pi­onship, Ne­do­hin got a phone call from Kleib­rink.

Kleib­rink, 48, had in­jured a disc in her back lift­ing weights and would Ne­do­hin join them as their al­ter­nate?

Ne­do­hin skipped two of their first three games in the Alberta cham­pi­onship. They’ve con­tinue play­ing as a five­some into the Tour­na­ment of Hearts.

Kleib­rink’s back hasn’t re­sponded to mas­sage ther­apy or phys­io­ther­apy as much as she’d hoped it would.

“And now the mus­cles are mad,” Kleib­rink said. “The re­al­ity is it needs about three weeks off.”

If Ne­do­hin can get Alberta on a roll, Kleib­rink may let her go the dis­tance in St. Catharines.

“I’m not go­ing to go back in seven games later not know­ing the ice,” Kleib­rink said. “It’s not like we don’t have an amaz­ing skip out there.”

Kleib­rink, who won an Olympic bronze medal in 2006, and Ne­do­hin have years of shot-call­ing ex­pe­ri­ence at the sport’s high­est lev­els.

Ne­do­hin didn’t let her skills go fal­low as she’s con­tin­ued to play in a women’s league at her club and also in mixed dou­bles with David.

Third Lisa Eyamie and front end Sarah Wilkes and Alison Thiessen have been ad­just­ing to the dif­fer­ent per­son­al­i­ties of their skips.

Kleib­rink is soft-spo­ken and con­tained with a quiet sense of hu­mour. Ne­do­hin is ex­pres­sive in face and body lan­guage and her voice is hoarse by the sec­ond day of an event.

In or­der to stop swear­ing into her tele­vi­sion mi­cro­phone at the 2012 world cham­pi­onship in Leth­bridge, Ont., Ne­do­hin adopted the term “sug­ar­balls” which went vi­ral on so­cial me­dia.

“I un­der­stand both per­son­al­i­ties,” Eyamie said. “Shan­non is a lit­tle qui­eter for sure, but she and I are good friends and get along re­ally eas­ily. That makes it eas­ier to say what we need to say and kind of move on.

“Heather, ob­vi­ously, is a lit­tle bit dif­fer­ent. She talks a lit­tle bit more, has a lit­tle bit more in­ten­sity, but that plays well for me as well. When I was younger, that’s kind of what I was like, so that’s fine.”

THE CANA­DIAN PRESS/SEAN KILPATRICK

Alberta al­ter­nate Heather Ne­do­hin gives third Lisa Eyamie a high five af­ter a win over Saskatchewan dur­ing the Scot­ties Tour­na­ment of Hearts in St. Catharines, Ont., on Tues­day.

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