Canada had a pleasant start to the 2021 World Junior Championships, scoring 19 goals while only conceding three during their opening two games. Slovakia did howevere provide considerably much more bite than Germany and the Canadians had to fight throughout all three periods to eventually drag out a 3-1-win.
Having been scheduled favourably, Team Canada once again was heavily favoured against a Team Switzerland with few NHL calibre prospects on their roster. Switzerland held their own quite well defensively throughout their first two games, losing to an only goal against the Slovaks and conceding four to Team Finland.
Offensively though, things have been rough. Draft eligible Attilio Biasca turned some heads with his goal on Sunday, but that goal has been the only one the Swiss have scored so far in the tournament. One goal in 42 shots is not enough if you want to reach the quarter finals.
Team Canada started the game, as expected, with immense velocity. Switzerland looked as though they were third on the puck as Canada skated in circles around them. Philip Tomasino isn’t one of the forwards with the most playing time on the team, but he sure knows how to do something creative with the time he gets. The Nashville prospect became the first player on the board as he sniped the puck past QMJHL-goaltender Noah Patenaude with less than two minutes played of the opening period.
Canada had 13 more shots throughout the period, but did not manage to double their lead. Switzerland meanwhile only managed three and Devon Levi, who got his third straight start in net, had no problem keeping a clean sheet.
Buffalo Sabres prodigy Dylan Cozens became the second goalscorer of the night, when he pushed a rebound from Cole Perfetti past Patenaude and into the open cage.
Quebec native Jacob Pelletier followed up with 3-0 off a rebound from fellow Calgary Flames draft prospect Connor Zary and minutes later the younger brother Suzuki continued the rebound mania shortly afterward with his second of the tournament. Connor McMichael, who could have got a ten minute major for his interference during period one. scored number five with a beautiful wrister in pace from the top of the slot.
Dylan Cozens once again shows his smart defensive stick, this time using his long reach to get the steal before feeding McMichael for the goal. Canada leads Switzerland 5-0 at the second intermission. pic.twitter.com/std7vfnuXF
— Kris Baker (@SabresProspects) December 30, 2020
In the mean time, Montreal prospect Kaiden Guhle was making a name for himself on the world wide web by delivering hits like this one:
Patenaude did everything he could to keep the score to a minimum, but as so often before when a superior force meets an inferior one, there’s only so long you can stand your ground.
The third period turned into a long and tedious nightmare for the Swiss as Team Canada went for yet another game with double digits on the score board. Quinton Byfield, who coincidentally is the youngest player on both this and last year’s team, already had three assists to his name from the first two periods. He followed this up by scoring his first two tallies of his World Juniors career to put the score up to seven.
Perfetti added number eight before Guhle made his best Shea Weber-impression and buried it home from the point. We can surely get used to seeing his rocket of a slapshot.
Before deciding that enough was enough, Pelletier scored his second of the night and third of the tournament. The game ended with a 10-0-victory for Canada, who now possess a whopping 29-3 in goals for/against after three games played.
On New Years Eve, we will get to see the first real test for this team as they take on Finland in what should be a battle for the top seed in Group A.
Switzerland will face Germany in a decisive battle for what should be the last quarter final spot in the same group. Considering Germany’s overtime win over Slovakia, Switzerland will need to beat their rivals to squeeze on through to the next round.
Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s
The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.
Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.
Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.
Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.
He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.
Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.
Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.
“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.
“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”
Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.
(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)
Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills
It’s been a year unlike no other for Canadian hockey teams, with COVID-19 travel restrictions forcing the creation of a new NHL division made up entirely of Canadian teams. The previous generation of NHL hockey was known as the “Dead Puck Era” because referees tolerated slowing down the game with clutching and grabbing.
The leading scorers today score in jaw-dropping fashion and routinely pull off stickhandling dangles that were unimaginable until only recently. The Canadian team that will win the North Division will be the one with the most skill.
Here are the training aids that will help you develop your skills all year long.
Innovators like HockeyShot Canada make “passers” so that players can develop pinpoint accuracy and the soft hands necessary to cradle and control a pass when it lands on your stick. The high-quality rubber bands return the puck with the same force which passed it, so you can give yourself one-timers or work on accuracy.
Whether you’re on a two-on-one, sending a breakout pass from the defensive zone, or holding down the blue line on the power play, every positional player needs to pass accurately.
A player is lucky to get a few shots on net each game, and they can’t let them go to waste. Until recently, players needed to rent ice in the off-season to practice their shots in realistic game-like conditions.
Now, players can use shooting pads at their home that let pucks glide as they do on real ice. Shooting is perhaps the one skill that requires the most repetition because one inch can be the difference between going bar-down and clanking one wide off the post.
Practice your quick release and accuracy and develop an arsenal of shots, including wrist shots, slapshots, one-timers, and more. The more tools in your tool kit, the deadlier a sniper you’ll be.
Having the puck on your stick is a responsibility, and you don’t want to cough it up to the other team and waste a scoring chance or lose possession. The ability to stickhandle helps you bide time until a teammate is open, so you can pass them the puck and continue attacking.
If you’re on a breakaway, you may want to deke the goalie rather than shoot if your hands are silky enough. Develop stickhandling skills, and you’ll keep goalies and opponents guessing – being unpredictable helps make a sniper’s job easier.
Of course, you also need to handle the puck in your own zone without causing a turnover. Stickhandling is a crucial skill in all areas of the ice.
When the coach sends you over the board, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get the puck in the slot or somewhere else, but when it’s playoffs, you always need to be ready. The Kings of the North Division have all of the above skills and more, and you can too if you practice all year.
Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards
Australia broke with tradition to hold its swimming trials just six weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics and former world champion Giaan Rooney said the move could reap rich rewards in Tokyo after disappointments at London and Rio.
Australia has typically held its trials up to six months before an Olympics but that gap has been drastically cut this year with swimmers vying for Tokyo spots this week in Adelaide.
Rooney, who won individual world titles at Fukuoka and Montreal and a relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Australia is gearing up for a much improved Games after its swimmers flopped at Rio and London.
“I think we needed to make it work,” she told Reuters. “The shift started about a year ago to bring the trials into line with the rest of the world and qualify five or six weeks before.
“In sport and swimming, six months is a long time,” Rooney added. “From a coaching perspective, it’s much better to know you have chosen the team in form.”
After winning five gold medals at Sydney 2000 and seven in Athens, the Australian team was rocked by accusations of disruptive behaviour by some of its top sprinters at the 2012 Olympics.
Australia won just one gold medal in the London pool and three in Rio five years ago.
Australia knew something had to be done if it was to close the gap on the powerful Americans and moving the trials is part of the strategy.
“I think it’s to make your swimmers more resilient to change,” Rooney said.
“In the USA they get to race every week regardless of illness or breakups and under all circumstances. Nothing rattles them.
“Australia doesn’t have that racing continuity. This is about making sure you are prepared for anything. I think our swimmers are more resilient than they have been in the past decade, COVID is part of this.”
Rooney said there might even be an “upside” for Australia with the Olympics postponed by a year due to the global health crisis, with the emergence of swimmers like teenager Kaylee McKeown, who broke the women’s 100m backstroke world record on Sunday.
“We are now talking about athletes who are not only going to make the Olympics but are medal chances,” Rooney said.
“We wouldn’t have been talking about her this time last year. She might not have been ready for a position on the team. She is now a legitimate gold medal chance in Tokyo once she gets there.”
For all her confidence about Australia’s performance in Tokyo, Rooney was wary of making predictions about a gold rush for her compatriots.
“I think this will be a more successful Olympics for us than Rio in the pool but individual goal medals will still be difficult to come by,” said the 38-year-old.
“The biggest challenge is to make the jump from minor medals to gold.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)
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