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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

# Player Position League Current team (NHL)
# Player Position League Current team (NHL)
8 Liam Foudy F OHL London Knights (CBJ)
9 Joe Veleno F AHL Grand Rapids Griffins (DET)
10 Raphael Lavoie F QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads (EDM)
11 Alexis Lafreniere F QMJHL Rimouski Océanic (2020 Draft)
12 Benoit-Olivier Groulx F QMJHL Halifac Mooseheads (ANA)
16 Akil Thomas F OHL Niagara IceDogs (LAK)
17 Connor McMichael F OHL London Knights (WSH)
18 Ty Dellandrea F OHL Flint Firebirds (DAL)
19 Quinton Byfield F OHL Sudbury Wolves (2020 Draft)
20 Dawson Mercer F QMJHL Drummondville Voltigeurs (2020 Draft)
22 Dylan Cozens F WHL Lethbridge Hurricanes (BUF)
25 Aidan Dudas F OHL Owen Sound Attack (LAK)
27 Barrett Hayton F NHL Arizona Coyotes
29 Nolan Foote F WHL Kelowna Rockets (TBL)
2 Kevin Bahl D OHL Ottawa 67’s (ARI)
3 Calen Addison D WHL Lethbridge Hurricanes (PIT)
4 Bowen Byram D WHL Vacouver Giants (COL)
5 Jacob Bernard-Docker D NCAA Univ. of North Dakota (OTT)
6 Jamie Drysdale D OHL Erie Otters (2020 Draft)
14 Jared McIsaac D QMJHL Halifax Mooseheads (DET)
24 Ty Smith D WHL Spokane Chiefs (NJD)
1 Nico Daws G OHL Guelph Storm (2020 Draft)
30 Joel Hofer G WHL Portland Winterhawks (STL)
31 Olivier Rodrigue G QMJHL Moncton 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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Maple Leafs' goalie Petr Mrazek exits with groin injury vs. Senators – The Athletic

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Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Petr Mrazek exited after the second period of a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday with what the team called a groin injury. The team had no further update on his status after the game.

Mrazek went down awkwardly on the final shot of the period from Ottawa’s Victor Mete, then hobbled down the tunnel at the end of the period. Mrazek made 26 saves but allowed three first-period goals. Jack Campbell came on for the Leafs in goal to start the third period.

Mrazek, 29, was making his debut with the Leafs after signing a three-year deal in the offseason.

(Photo: Chris Tanouye / Getty Images)

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Umpire's 'Blown' Check-Swing Call Ends Epic Dodgers-Giants Series And Stuns Fans – Yahoo

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Of course the epic National League Division Series between the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Francisco Giants would finish in controversy.

The Giants’ Wilmer Flores struck out on what many believed was a blown check-swing call by first base umpire Gabe Morales. The out preserved the Dodgers’ 2-1 victory in Game 5 on Thursday, allowing the team to advance to the National League Championship Series against Atlanta.

The chances of a Giants rally appeared dim at the time. The count was 0-2, there were two outs, a runner on first, and three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer was pitching. Not to mention that Flores had never gotten a hit off Scherzer before, the San Francisco Chronicle noted.

But the anticlimactic ending to the momentous playoff clash between the historic rivals angered fans. Reporters and Major Leaguers, including the New York Mets’ Kevin Pillar (a former Giant), chimed in, too.

Check out the reactions of what some called “the check swing heard round the world.”

This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.

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Cardinals acquire Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz from Eagles – Sportsnet.ca

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The undefeated Arizona Cardinals have added another weapon to their arsenal.

The Cardinals, who are the only 5-0 team in the NFL, acquired three-time Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz from the Philadelphia Eagles on Friday for cornerback Tay Gowan and a 2022 fifth-round draft pick.

Ertz played with the Eagles since they selected him in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. He set an NFL record for most receptions by a tight end in a single season with 116 catches and also had a career-high 1,163 yards during the 2018 season. Ertz, who was selected to the Pro Bowl three consecutive years from 2017-19, caught the game-winning touchdown during Super Bowl LII to help the Eagles defeat the New England Patriots 41-33 and capture their first Super Bowl.

“Zach Ertz built a special legacy in Philadelphia,” Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. “Talented, tough, and passionate, he helped to establish our team’s culture and played a vital role in our success over the years.

“Zach created so many memories that will live on forever, from setting numerous franchise and league records, to reaching across the end zone for the game-winning touchdown in our first-ever Super Bowl championship. He will always be a member of the Eagles family, not only because of what he accomplished on the field, but also because of the wonderful person, dedicated leader, and exemplary role model that he was for nine seasons in Philadelphia. We wish Zach and Julie nothing but the best.”

The 30-year-old Ertz has 18 receptions for 189 yards and two touchdowns in six games this season. Philadelphia lost 28-22 Thursday night to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers with Ertz hauling in a touchdown catch.

The Cardinals play the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

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