Skip enjoying a winning reunion

BARRE CAMPBELL -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 11:02 AM ET

Anne Merklinger and Theresa Breen have spent three years apart on rival curling teams. But now they're reunited, and Merklinger says they're playing like they've never been apart.

"It's like we're at where we left off," said the Rideau skip.

"When she was gone, you just don't realize what you're missing. You just realize what you don't have anymore."

The duo, along with teammates Audrey Reddick and Susan Froud, had good reason to celebrate their reunification last night after qualifying for tomorrow's championship round of the Canada Cup East cashspiel, beating Montreal's Eve Belisle 8-3 at the Rideau.

GREAT COMBO

Merklinger and Breen formed one of the best back-end combinations in Ontario women's curling during the 1990s, teaming up with front-enders Reddick and Patti McKnight.

The team won the provincials four times, got to the Scott national championship game twice, and competed at the 1997 Olympic trials.

But the teammates went their separate ways after failing to qualify for the 2001 trials.

About the split, Merklinger said, "It's one of the dumbest things I've ever done.

"She's fun to play with and she's a great player,'' she said of Breen. ''Now that we're back together, we appreciate each other a whole lot more."

JOB TRANSFER

A job transfer for Breen from Ottawa to Barrie also contributed to the breakup.

"We had gotten to a point where things were just getting stale," said Breen. "It just kind of came as a mutually-agreeable thing that we would do something different.

''It was sad because it was kind of the end of an era, and we never perceived that we'd ever play together again."

Merklinger and Reddick recruited new teammates, while Breen joined forces with former world champ Marilyn Bodogh.

"I got to play with Marilyn and had a great time, and Anne got to play with some great players as well," said Breen. "I think we've learned from those experiences and they probably made us better players."

Froud was a three-year teammate with Breen on Bodogh's squad.

In the other women's A-side final, young upstart Andrea Kelly, the 19-year-old reigning New Brunswick junior champion, beat Thornhill's Chrissy Cadorin in an extra-end 9-8 shootout to get a spot in tomorrow's title round.

Ottawa's Jenn Hanna downed Brenda Nicholls of Quebec City last night to advance to a B-side semi-final this morning at the Ottawa club against Heather Smith-Dacey of Halifax.


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