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2020 World Junior Hockey Championship: Canada preview & roster – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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They may have breezed through the preliminary round, but Team Canada had a disappointing early exit from the 2019 World Junior Hockey Championship. There were only 47 seconds left in the third period when Finland tied it up and pushed the game to overtime. It was there that Canada lost 2-1 in the knockout stage.

It was a bit of a shock to see Canada booted out so early. They hold the highest number of medals (31) and gold medals (17) in the tournament’s history.

This year, they’ll be in grouped together with long-time rivals the United States and Russia, both of whom made it to the semifinals last year with Russia grabbing bronze and USA taking home silver.

Canada didn’t meet either of those adversaries during last year’s tournament, but this year they’ll be facing USA right out of the gate when the tournament starts on Boxing Day.

Team Canada preliminary roster

#PlayerPositionLeagueCurrent team (NHL)
#PlayerPositionLeagueCurrent team (NHL)
8 Liam FoudyFOHLLondon Knights (CBJ)
9Joe VelenoFAHLGrand Rapids Griffins (DET)
10Raphael LavoieFQMJHLHalifax Mooseheads (EDM)
11Alexis LafreniereFQMJHL Rimouski Océanic (2020 Draft)
12Benoit-Olivier GroulxFQMJHLHalifac Mooseheads (ANA)
16Akil ThomasFOHLNiagara IceDogs (LAK)
17Connor McMichaelFOHLLondon Knights (WSH)
18Ty DellandreaFOHLFlint Firebirds (DAL)
19Quinton ByfieldFOHLSudbury Wolves (2020 Draft)
20Dawson MercerFQMJHLDrummondville Voltigeurs (2020 Draft)
22Dylan CozensFWHLLethbridge Hurricanes (BUF)
25Aidan DudasFOHLOwen Sound Attack (LAK)
27Barrett HaytonFNHLArizona Coyotes
29Nolan FooteFWHLKelowna Rockets (TBL)
2Kevin BahlDOHLOttawa 67’s (ARI)
3Calen AddisonDWHLLethbridge Hurricanes (PIT)
4Bowen ByramDWHLVacouver Giants (COL)
5Jacob Bernard-DockerDNCAAUniv. of North Dakota (OTT)
6Jamie DrysdaleDOHLErie Otters (2020 Draft)
14Jared McIsaacDQMJHLHalifax Mooseheads (DET)
24Ty SmithDWHLSpokane Chiefs (NJD)
1Nico DawsGOHLGuelph Storm (2020 Draft)
30Joel HoferGWHLPortland Winterhawks (STL)
31Olivier RodrigueGQMJHLMoncton Wildcats (EDM)

Strengths

This team looks to have every area covered, from down the middle, to the blue line, and all they way to the netminders. But their talented group of forwards has to be their biggest strength. The roster includes 10 first-round selections and the predicted top two 2020 NHL Draft picks — Alexis Lafrenière and Quinton Byfield.

Lafreniere is leading the QMJHL with 70 points in 32 games while Byfield is third on the OHL leaderboard with 57 (22G, 35A) in 30 games. Byfield also took home the silver medal during this year’s Hlinka Gretzky Cup, tallying a point per game during the tournament.

Not to mention Dylan Cozens, who currently has 46 points (20G, 26A) with the Lethbridge Hurricanes and is skilled enough to play both centre and wing. The depth of the forward corps is crazy impressive.

Weaknesses

This team is stacked and are in it to win it, so there aren’t a lot of weaknesses to choose from. The only concern is that it looks like it will be a game-time decision on who the starting goaltender will be. It’s the most important position and will remain a question mark right up until the round-robin games have concluded.

All three goaltenders have impressive records, so the choice shouldn’t make or break the team. Though there are three netminders on the roster, the coin toss will probably be between Joel Hofer, who’s leading WHL goaltenders with his 20-4-2 record, 1.81 goals-against average, .937 save percentage, and four shutouts so far this season, and Nico Daws, who has a 13-3-4 record in the OHL, a 2.06 GAA and .939 save percentage.

During Sunday’s practice, the team was down to just one goalie — and it was neither of these guys. It was up to Oliver Rodrigue to man the net after Hofer was stung by a shot to the glove and Daws left early with an undisclosed injury. What was a small question mark for the team a few days ago, is becoming the biggest one.

X-Factor

Lafrenière is one of five returning players from last year’s roster, but the only returning forward. At 18 years old, he’ll be looked upon to not only provide excellent offence, but also leadership to the team. He’s currently leading the QMJHL in points (70) and assists (47). During his rookie season, he scored 42 goals, the most goals scored by a rookie since some kid named Sidney Crosby in 2004. He’s predicted to be the top prospect eligible for the 2020 NHL Draft, ranked number one by Elite Prospects, Hockey Prospect, McKeens Hockey, and Future Considerations.

Last year, Lafrenière was the youngest on Team Canada’s roster and scored his only goal in Canada’s 5-1 win over the Czech Republic. He’ll be hoping to take the team a little further into the competition so he can make more of an impact this year.

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Canadian athletes support protest at Olympics 'in certain situations' – CBC.ca

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Canadian athletes took the middle ground in their statement on the International Olympic Committee’s anti-protest rule on Monday.

The Canadian Olympic Committee Athletes’ Commission (COC AC), with support from the national committee, put forward seven suggestions to Rule 50 that states “no kind of demonstration or political, religious or racial propaganda is permitted in any Olympic sites, venues or other areas.”

The Canadian athletes suggested the addition of neutral protected spaces at the Games for peaceful demonstrations that don’t interfere with the competition.

They also suggested clear guidelines be established for what constitutes demonstration, protest and propaganda, as well as provisions for what are considered acceptable actions.

Oluseyi Smith, two-time Olympian and COC AC chair, said the consensus showed a desire for protests not to interfere with competition on the field of play. There was little agreement, however, about demonstrations on the podium or at the opening and closing ceremonies.

“Athletes agree that the games have to remain for sport while at the same time giving an opportunity for athletes who have earned their right to speak — to champion things which are important to them while the world’s watching,” Smith said.

The rule was made stricter in January when the IOC reduced the number of spaces at which it would allow the athletes to protest.

WATCH | CBC Sports panel on Rule 50 recommendations:

The COC Athletes’ Commission has presented 7 recommendations in regards to Rule 50 of the Olympic Charter. 17:20

Those changes came under fire following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis in May that prompted worldwide protests against racial injustice, including among professional athletes.

Smith and fellow Canadian athletes like sprinter Aaron Brown, wrestler Jasmine Mian and decathlete Damian Warner all made reference to the NBA’s efforts to promote racial justice in the wake of the deaths of Floyd and Breonna Taylor, as well as the shooting of Jacob Blake.

“This is really just a discussion of, ‘Is this place for sport, or is this a place to champion what we hold dear?’ And I really believe we can have our cake and eat it, too. I think we can go out there and be the best athletes we can [be],” said Smith. “But also bring attention to topics that are important to us as individuals but also to us a nation just like the NBA has done around Black Lives Matter.”

Recommendations weaker than U.S. statement

The Canadians’ recommendations were weaker than the U.S. statement on the matter, which called for the abolition of the rule entirely and was backed by pioneers John Carlos and Tommie Smith, renowned for raising their fists on the podium at the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games in protest of racial inequality.

Mian, 30, competed at the 2016 Olympics and graduated from the school of public policy in Calgary. In July, Mian wrote for CBC News that abolishing Rule 50 could do more harm than good.

She suggested that threatening a boycott would be more effective than simple acts at the Games.

WATCH | Sprinter Aaron Brown says recommendations don’t go far enough:

CBC’s Scott Russell spoke with Canadian Olympic sprinter Aaron Brown about Rule 50, that bars protesting at the Olympic Games. 5:14

“I think it would be incredibly powerful if we came together as a collective and said, ‘Look, we’re not going to go do Tokyo next year until and unless the government is willing to make progress on certain policy issues that we have at home or that exist internationally,'” said Mian. 

“I think waiting to talk about this on the Olympic podium actually misses our opportunity to do true activism.”

Once the Games begin, Mian said athletes lose their negotiating power and protests becomes less effective.

“There are aspects of the Olympic movement and aspects of neutrality that are worth preserving, and I think that we have to have a more nuanced conversation about what is the middle ground between having complete autonomy to say whatever you want and being able to say nothing at all,” Mian said.

Brown, 28, also competed in Rio. The sprinter said Rule 50 goes against the values of the Olympic movement, quoting the charter as saying to play “sport at the service of the harmonious development of humankind.”

“When you have a rule in place that prevents you from doing that and restricts you in certain elements, I just think that it goes against the spirit of what it’s supposed to stand for,” said Brown.

The Toronto native said Olympic athletes should use the attention of the Games to their advantage.

“If they’re going to be leaders on the field or in the court of play, why not be leaders off of it? They can exact change and shine light on injustices that are happening around the world,” said Brown.

Warner, a 30-year-old London, Ont., native, agreed that athletes should use the Olympic platform.

“In certain situations where your voice is more powerful than your legs or your throwing arm, I think you should be able to speak your mind or talk about the things that have plagued you and your communities,” Warner said.

WATCH | Damian Warner slams IOC protest rule:

Canadian decathlete Damian Warner had strong words for the IOC, calling their stance on athletes protesting ‘unfortunate’ and said they are on the ‘wrong side of history.’ 0:50

Consequences for breaking new rule

One other issue considered by the Canadian athletes was that of consequences for breaking their proposed new rule. Mian said governments interfering with individual athletes’ right to protest is a potential negative outcome from the complete abolition of Rule 50.

“Even if we gave athletes from all around the world the same rights to protest on the podium, the consequences for them in their home country are going to be very different, and I think that that’s a real concern,” she said.

To that end, the COC AC recommended establishing clear consequences and “degrees of violation” for athletes who break the rule.

Rule 50 also includes language banning the commercialization of the Olympics through athlete advertising, which the Canadian athletes recommended be separated from protest guidelines.

The athletes’ commission said it only made recommendations that were supported by a clear majority of its members, following a process including public seminars, one-on-ones with individual athletes and an open Q&A.

Below are the COC AC’s full recommendations to amend Rule 50:

  • Establish two separate rules when expressing views: one regarding expressions through commercial matters such as emblems, advertising and commercial installations and the other, regarding demonstrations, protests and propaganda.
  • Clearly define the terms used within Rule 50 including what constitutes a demonstration or protest or propaganda.
  • Establish provisions for what is viewed as an acceptable demonstration based on the values and principles of Olympism.
  • Establish clear parameters for an acceptable demonstration that is peaceful and respectful of other athletes and countries.
  • Maintain and/or establish neutral or protected spaces that allow for a peaceful demonstration that do not interfere with competition.
  • Clearly define and outline the consequences and the “degrees of violation” around demonstration, protest and propaganda.
  • Explore other opportunities to meaningfully celebrate unity and inclusion by taking a stand against racism and discrimination.

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Cam takes blame for failed SNF final play: 'Just thinking too much' – theScore

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Cam Newton looked like his old MVP self for most of the New England Patriots‘ Sunday night shootout with the Seattle Seahawks, but the quarterback came up short during the game’s biggest play.

After running for his second 1-yard touchdown of the contest to bring New England within one score with 2:16 remaining, Newton again advanced his new team to the goal line, this time with three seconds left.

But Seattle was ready for Newton’s run. The defense swarmed to stuff the quarterback and seal the 35-30 victory.

“I just didn’t make everybody right and that’s the only thing I regret,” Newton said after the game, according to USA Today’s Mark Daniels. “In that type of situation, it’s humbling to be able to have the respect of a team to have the ball in my hands. I just have to deliver. I saw a clip of it; I could’ve made it right by just bouncing it (outside). I was just trying to be patient. Just thinking too much, man. Or even just diving over the top. There’s so many things that flashed over me.

“Playing a fast defense like that, as soon as you guess, you’re wrong. I’ll definitely learn from this. The play was there. The play was there all game.”

Newton couldn’t finish the job, but the 31-year-old arguably produced one of his best career performances.

In addition to the two short touchdown scampers, Newton finished with 397 passing yards – his highest total since 2011 – and one passing touchdown against one interception. He also added a team-high 47 yards on the ground.

Russell Wilson ultimately outgunned Newton, pushing himself to the front of the early MVP race with a five-touchdown outing.

While New England sent a clear message to the rest of the league that it can contend without Tom Brady and a host of key defenders who departed this offseason, Newton isn’t satisfied with a moral victory.

“It’s many ways you can win in this game. We don’t want to become one-dimensional,” Newton said. “We had our opportunities. Just moving forward, we have a lot of things about being optimistic about but yet, we still have to get better.

“The reason why you play this game is for (one) stat and one stat only. We didn’t get that statistic today and that’s the win. For us, this is a disgusting taste in my mouth. I’ve just got to grow and get better in this offense and hopefully have a better result next week.”

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Wolff comes up short in first U.S. Open – pgatour.com

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MAMARONECK, N.Y. – The kid will live to fight another day.

Matthew Wolff, the 54-hole leader by two, just didn’t have it for the final round of the 120th U.S. Open at Winged Foot on Sunday. He shot a final-round 75 to finish even par and in solo second, six behind Bryson DeChambeau (67), who shot the low round of the day by three.

“I played really tough all week,” Wolff said. “I battled hard. Things just didn’t go my way. But first U.S. Open, second place is something to be proud of and hold your head up high for.”

Wolff blinked first when he hit a wild hook and bogeyed the third hole. DeChambeau caught him with a birdie at the fourth hole, and took a lead he would never relinquish with a par at the fifth. Both eagled the par-5 ninth to remain separated by just one shot, but it was no contest from there as DeChambeau kept the pedal down while Wolff shot a 39 coming in.

“My advice?” said Zach Johnson (74, T8) “Leave this parking lot with the positives because, my guess, there’s a slew of them. Whatever he’s doing right now is not ineffective.

“… He’s going to slice and dice today,” Johnson added, “and he needs to really focus in on some of the things that he did the previous three days, I think more so than today.”

The two main combatants have a history of butting heads. When Wolff won the 3M Open last year, DeChambeau tied for second. When DeChambeau won the Rocket Mortgage Classic in July, Wolff was second. Both tied for fourth at the PGA Championship last month.

DeChambeau said he expects to run into Wolff again in the future, and it seems likely. Wolff is too good to just go away, and he’s also irrepressible, approaching golf as a game, not science. While DeChambeau had ear buds in prior to the final round, Wolff was on the phone cracking up laughing. Although he said he would play his usual “rip dog” game, he was just a little off.

“I really didn’t feel that nervous out there,” he said. “Maybe at the start I did, but at the start I played pretty well. I don’t think it was nerves that were holding me back. I just think it wasn’t meant to be.” A few breaks here and there, he said, and he might have made it closer.

The final pairing further accelerated a youth movement that was already in gear. Wolff (21) and DeChambeau (27) combined to make up the second youngest final pairing in the last 50 majors, behind only Jordan Spieth (22) and Smylie Kaufman (24) at the 2016 Masters Tournament. 

Wolff’s youthful exuberance will almost certainly come away from Winged Foot unscathed.

“He’s just a kid,” said fellow Oklahoma State product Rickie Fowler (79, 17 over). “Some of the things he’ll say, you sometimes forget that you’re around someone who’s – you look at him as one of our peers, someone you play against and compete against, but he’ll say something and you’re like, yeah, he’s still a kid. He’s 10 years behind us.

“There’s really no course that doesn’t suit him,” Fowler added, “just because he’s able to work the ball both ways easily. He’s a great ball-striker. His extra length, with the way the rough is, it helps on a lot of holes out here because you’re going to miss fairways, and to potentially have between two and four clubs less out of the rough, that makes a big difference.”

That’s the case on any course, and Wolff will almost certainly be a force on many of them.

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