Team Canada held a limited media availability at Ostravar Arena on Sunday. Team Russia held a full morning skate. Mark Masters has more.
Team Canada captain Barrett Hayton is officially listed as a game-time decision for the gold-medal game.
“He’s working with our medical staff in there right now and doing his treatment and trying to get himself ready,” said assistant coach Mitch Love. “We got a lot of hours here before puck drop so we’ll see where he’s at.”
The Arizona Coyotes centre, who is tied for the tournament scoring lead with 11 points, crashed into the boards in the third period of Saturday night’s semifinal win over Finland. Hayton could be heard yelling in pain before leaving the ice favouring his left arm.
“He’s been getting treatment,” said teammate Joe Veleno. “We saw him this morning, he’s got nothing on his shoulder really so, you know, he seems fine right now.”
That may be wishful thinking. TSN’s Frank Seravalli reported the initial outlook for Hayton wasn’t positive and while the 19-year-old hasn’t been officially ruled out, he’s a long-shot to play.
Dealing with the absence of a star player is nothing new for this Canadian team. They won twice without Alexis Lafreniere and Veleno missed one of those games due to suspension. Nolan Foote was ejected less than one minute into the quarterfinal win over Slovakia and then in the semifinal game top-pair defenceman Bowen Byram was a late scratch due to illness.
“It’s a resilient group,” said Love. “We’ve dealt with a lot of adversity in this event so far and here we are again today with a chance to play the Russians for a gold medal.”
“You know what, sometimes it’s tricky,” said Russian assistant coach Igor Larionov, “when you got the best players out, sometimes the guys who play do some extra effort. We have to be prepared. We got some people also who are injured and playing through the pain.”
Byram is likely to play tonight.
“He’s doing better,” said Love. “He was at breakfast this morning, which is a good sign. He’ll be a game-time decision as well.”
Byram isn’t the only Canadian player who’s been dealing with a nasty flu bug. Calen Addison missed practice on Wednesday and others have been impacted as well.
“It was going around a little bit, but guys seem to be all good this morning,” said Veleno. “We saw everyone this morning at breakfast so it’s a good sign. It’s the gold-medal game so whether you’re sick or not I think all the guys will be ready to go.”
“There’s been a little bit of an illness,” said defenceman Ty Smith, “but that’s kind of caused guys to step up like (Jamie Drysdale) did last night and that helps build a stronger team because guys get more touches and more confidence.”
Love confirmed that Hayton and Byram are the only two question marks for Team Canada Sunday.
Canada’s first real bout with adversity came when Russia handed them a 6-0 loss on Dec. 28, the most lopsided defeat in the country’s history at the World Juniors.
“That was an eye-opener for us,” said Love, “and we’ll try and use that tonight to will ourselves to the win.”
Both teams are expecting a much tighter affair than the preliminary round.
“Well, it happened last year,” said Larionov. “It happened last year, 2019. So, now, we’re in the new year, 2020, we’re starting to rewrite the books in January so it will be a new game. For us, no overconfidence, we know things happen like that, 6-0, but it’s all behind us, in the distance.”
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However, that painful loss remains a fresh memory for many Canadian players, who are determined not to repeat the sins of the past.
“Last game they wanted to get under our skin,” said Veleno, “they were giving us some cross-checks, hitting us a little late and passing by our bench and giving us some smirks, but we can’t let that get to us. It’s aggravating when that happens, but we have to stay composed. No matter what, we have to believe in ourselves and trust our teammates and I think we’ll be fine … We have to be disciplined tonight and not get sucked up in their game plan.”
If Hayton can’t play, Veleno will be leaned on even more. After prematurely celebrating a couple close calls that didn’t go in during the last two games, the Grand Rapids centre hopes he’s saving his goals for the gold-medal game.
“That’s what everyone’s telling me,” he said with a chuckle. “I hope the hockey Gods will reward me. I mean, I don’t know what else I can do. The guys have been chirping me a little bit and so have the coaches so I got to make sure I bury those.”
Veleno scored against the Czechs on New Year’s Eve, but that’s his only goal in the tournament. He pinged one off the post against Finland last night.
Veleno, who didn’t score in five games at last year’s World Juniors, tossed and turned on Saturday night, but not because of his lack of finish against the Finns.
“It took me a while before heading to bed. I was just thinking about today’s game,” he said with a smile.
Veleno was imagining a different kind of celebration. Not a goal, but a championship.
“Throwing the gloves in the air, I guess, that’s probably the first thing I thought about,” he said, “getting the Cup and getting to do a lap with that. At the same time, we all have a role to play. We can’t all score big goals. We all have to contribute in our own ways.”
Connor McMichael brings a swagger to Team Canada. He started the tournament on the fourth line, but still scored the team’s first goal sparking a comeback against the United States on Boxing Day. And the London Knight enters the gold-medal game having scored in three straight.
On Saturday night, the Capitals first rounder channeled his inner Babe Ruth against the Finns.
“Right before we went out for our first shift he said, ‘Just get me the puck in the high slot and I’m going to introduce myself to the back bar,’ and that’s what he did,” said linemate Ty Dellandrea. “So, he called it.”
Apparently, McMichael has done this before.
“Usually when he says he’s going to score he does it,” Dellandrea said. “He’s a goal scorer.”
McMichael has 25 goals in 27 games in London this season. He now has four at the World Juniors, one off the Team Canada lead (Hayton).
“He’s got a great shot,” observed Dale Hunter, who also coaches McMichael in the OHL, “that’s his strength and when he shoots it it comes off his stick hard and different and goalies have a hard time picking it up.”
McMichael’s goal was the beginning of a Canadian deluge. Dellandrea could sense how locked in the group was in the dressing room.
“We were ready to go,” the Flint centre said. “We were excited for this game. There was a calmness getting ready for the game. Usually, we’re talking a bit, but it was silence, a calm before the storm.”
McMichel has done his damage early in games with all his goals coming within the first 23:31 of play.
When the Canadian anthem plays after wins in Ostrava some red-clad fans have taken to shouting “True North” during that part of O Canada. It’s a tradition at Jets games and one that Winnipeg native Joel Hofer is well aware of.
“I heard that, actually,” he said with a wide grin after posting a semifinal shutout. “I heard that the first couple games so it’s definitely cool that they’re getting here. It’s getting pretty cold here so maybe they brought over the cold.”
Hofer may have ice in his veins. The Portland goalie has appeared unflappable backstopping Canada to four straight wins. Hofer admitted to being nervous in his first start against the Germans. Have those nerves dissipated?
“No, they’re still there,” he said. “I mean, they’re obviously going to be there. How can you not have nerves, I mean, it’s the World Championship. Everyone has nerves, you just have to accept them and it’s just a feeling. It’s good.”
A fourth-round pick of the Blues in 2018, Hofer has gone from never being invited to a Hockey Canada camp to starting in the gold-medal game at the World Juniors.
“It’s pretty crazy,” he said. “I wasn’t invited to the (summer World Junior) Showcase or anything and was off the radar for a bit. So, I kind of just went about my business, game by game, and it’s been showing off.”
Frank Seravalli has more on how Hofer is aiming to follow in the footsteps of Jordan Binnington, who he met at training camp, here.
After replacing Yaroslav Askarov in the semifinal win over Sweden, Amir Miftakhov is expected to start for Russia, Larionov said. Miftakhov shutout Canada in the preliminary round.
Byfield named to Hockey Canada WJC select camp roster – NHL.com
The camp will be held at Westerner Park Centrium from Nov. 16-Dec. 13 in Red Deer, Alberta.
Alexis Lafreniere, chosen No. 1 by the New York Rangers in the 2020 draft, was not one of the 46 invitees that includes 26 forwards, 15 defensemen and five goalies. The forward played for Canada in the 2019 and 2020 WJC, and he was named the tournament most valuable player in 2020.
Lafreniere could still be added to the team; the Rangers want Lafreniere to attend NHL training camp, but Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney said more clarity on Lafreniere’s status is expected in about 10 days.
“(Rangers general manager) Jeff Gorton and I had a good chat,” Renney said, “and [I] gave Jeff the opportunity to understand our timetable of what might be coming up with respect to this camp … and well beyond that. With that being said, Jeff was certainly open-minded to the idea, was hoping that his player would have the opportunity to join the NHL team in New York as of now, actually, to begin skating with the club.”
The event is the final step in picking the team that will play for Canada at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship. The tournament, to be held Dec. 25 to Jan. 5, 2021, will be played entirely at Rogers Place in Edmonton without fans in attendance in a secure-zone bubble, similar to what the NHL used for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The IIHF initially was going to utilize Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta as joint hosts.
“I think having an opportunity to be together for 51 days will be special,” Canada coach Andre Tourigny said. “Fortunately for everyone, we’ll have time to be really well prepared so we’re really grateful for it. the coaches spent so many hours on video for scouting and getting prepared. Close to 90 players had been scouting through video and I think we’re really excited and really confident with the group we will have in Red Deer. We can’t wait to get into the bubble.
“This has never happened in the past where Team Canada had the chance to meet together for this long (in a selection camp) and to grow their structure and to grow their chemistry for that long. I think it will be unique, and it will be an outstanding opportunity for us.”
Byfield, a forward, is one of six returnees who helped Canada finish first at the 2020 WJC, along with defensemen Bowen Byram (Colorado Avalanche, 2019 NHL Draft, No. 4) and Jamie Drysdale (Anaheim Ducks, 2020, No. 6) and forwards Dylan Cozens (Buffalo Sabres, 2019, No. 7), Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals, 2019, No. 25) and Dawson Mercer (New Jersey Devils, 2020, No. 18).
To ensure the health and safety of all participants and the community, Hockey Canada will be adhering to enhanced measures around testing and team protocols.
“Although this has been a difficult year for our athletes and staff, we are excited to unveil the 46 players who will compete for a spot on Canada’s National Junior Team at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship,” said Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of national teams for Hockey Canada. “We know our athletes are excited for the opportunity to defend gold on home ice this year, and we expect a highly competitive selection camp with a number of difficult decisions to be made when it comes time to select the players who will wear the Maple Leaf in Edmonton in December.”
The selection camp will include practices, three intra-squad games and six games against a team of U SPORTS all-stars before the team enters the bubble in Edmonton in preparation for the 2021 WJC. The camp will take place in a bubble and will be closed to the public and media.
Canada will be in Group A, along with Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Germany. Group B will include the United States, Russia, Sweden, Austria and the Czech Republic. Canada plays the opening game of the round-robin portion against Germany on Dec. 26.
The top four teams in each group will play in the quarterfinals Jan. 2. The semifinals are Jan. 4, and the championship and third-place games are Jan. 5.
Canada, which defeated Russia 4-3 in the 2020 championship game at Ostravar Arena in Ostrava, Czech Republic, finished first at the event for the 18th time.
Vancouver (Western Hockey League) coach Michael Dyck and Saskatoon (WHL) coach Mitch Love will be assistants under Tourigny, the coach of Ottawa of the Ontario Hockey League. Love and Tourigny were assistants to coach Dale Hunter at the 2020 WJC.
HOCKEY CANADA WJC SELECT CAMP ROSTER
GOALIES: Brett Brochu, London, OHL (2021 draft eligible); Dylan Garand, Kamloops, WHL (New York Rangers); Taylor Gauthier, Prince George, WHL (2021 draft eligible); Triston Lennox, Saginaw, OHL (2021 draft eligible); Devon Levi, Northeastern, HE (Florida Panthers)
DEFENSEMEN: Justin Barron, Halifax, QMJHL (Colorado Avalanche); Bowen Byram, Vancouver, WHL (Colorado Avalanche); Lukas Cormier, Charlottetown, QMJHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Jamie Drysdale, Erie, OHL (Anaheim Ducks); Kaiden Guhle, Prince Albert, WHL (Montreal Canadiens); Thomas Harley, Mississauga, OHL (Dallas Stars); Daemon Hunt, Moose Jaw, WHL (Minnesota Wild); Kaedan Korczak, Kelowna, WHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Mason Millman, Saginaw OHL (Philadelphia Flyers); Ryan O’Rourke, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL (Minnesota Wild); Owen Power, Michigan, BIG10 (2021 draft eligible); Matthew Robertson, Edmonton, WHL (New York Rangers); Braden Schneider, Brandon, WHL (New York Rangers); Donovan Sebrango, Kitchener, OHL (Detroit Red Wings); Jordan Spence, Moncton, QMJHL (Los Angeles Kings)
FORWARDS: Adam Beckman, Spokane, WHL (Minnesota Wild); Mavrik Bourque, Shawinigan, QMJHL (Dallas Stars); Quinton Byfield, Sudbury, OHL (Los Angeles Kings); Graeme Clarke, Ottawa, OHL (New Jersey Devils); Kirby Dach, Saskatoon, WHL (Chicago Blackhawks); Tyson Foerster, Barrie, OHL (Philadelphia Flyers); Gage Goncalves, Everett, WHL (Tampa Bay Lightning); Ridly Greig, Brandon, WHL (Ottawa Senators); Dylan Holloway, Wisconsin, BIG10 (Edmonton Oilers); Seth Jarvis, Portland, WHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Peyton Krebs, Winnipeg, WHL (Vegas Golden Knights); Hendrix Lapierre, Chicoutimi, QMJHL (Washington Capitals); Connor McMichael, London, OHL (Washington Capitals); Dawson Mercer, Chicoutimi, QMJHL (New Jersey Devils); Alex Newhook, Boston College, HE (Colorado Avalanche); Jakob Pelletier, Val-d’Or, QMJHL (Calgary Flames); Cole Perfetti, Saginaw, OHL (Winnipeg Jets); Samuel Poulin, Sherbrooke, QMJHL (Pittsburgh Penguins); Jack Quinn, Ottawa, OHL (Buffalo Sabres); Jamieson Rees, Sarnia, OHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Cole Schwindt, Mississauga, OHL (Florida Panthers); Xavier Simoneau, Drummondville, QMJHL (2021 draft eligible); Ryan Suzuki, Saginaw, OHL (Carolina Hurricanes); Philip Tomasino, Oshawa, OHL (Nashville Predators); Shane Wright, Kingston, OHL (2022 draft eligible); Connor Zary, Kamloops, WHL (Calgary Flames)
Jahnke: Fantasy football reactions from the Falcons' TNF win over the Panthers | Fantasy Football News, Rankings and Projections – Pro Football Focus
Thursday Night Football featured two division rivals who played just 18 days ago. The Falcons dominated time of possession most of the game, but their drives kept ending in field goals, which kept the game close. The game featured plenty of stars in the fantasy football world, but none of them had a great game — some performances were quite disappointing.
As always, this collection of fantasy reactions will include snap counts for skill players on each team, along with notes on players who saw their fantasy stocks rise or fall during the action — and how we should react to anything new.
Samuel had the winner spot locked up early in the second quarter after scoring his second touchdown of the game. He ended up with three carries for 23 yards and a touchdown, along with four catches for 31 yards and another TD. Samuel’s fantasy stock was on the rise earlier in the week after the release of Seth Roberts, which helped lead to more playing time for Samuel. While this game was a step in the right direction, Christian McCaffrey will return soon and command a ton of touches. There is the possibility McCaffrey and Mike Davis seeing the field at the same time, which could cut into both Samuel’s playing time and his carries.
Gage was held to two catches on three targets for 25 yards. With Ridley missing two-thirds of the game, this should have been an opportunity for Gage to have a bigger role in the offense. He had seen his targets rise in recent weeks, leading to back-to-back games with over 50 yards. Instead, Ridley’s injury led to more targets for Julio Jones and Hayden Hurst. Even if Ridley misses time, it would be hard to trust Gage with how few targets he had in this game and earlier in the season when Jones was out.
Hill has spent the season as the No. 2 running back behind Todd Gurley II. Coming into Thursday night, he had put up a higher yards per carry and more than double the yards per route run. This week, Hill saw his biggest role in the offense in over a month. Despite having seven fewer carries than Gurley, Hill ended up with nine more rushing yards. He saw three targets and was the only halfback targeted in the Falcons offense. He only had two catches for nine yards, but if he continues to outplay Gurley it wouldn’t be surprising to see Hill’s playing time continue to rise.
Ridley left the game early in the second quarter with an ankle injury. He was off to a strong start with three catches on four targets for 42 yards before the injury. The Falcons have struggled to keep all three of their wide receivers healthy, with both Julio Jones and Russell Gage missing time in recent weeks. While Olamide Zaccheaus typically replaced Jones, and Brandon Powell replaced Gage last week, it was Christian Blake primarily replacing Ridley Thursday night. Blake caught both of his targets for 14 yards. If Ridley were to miss any time, Blake would be a good waiver wire target. He might not be someone worth starting right away, but there would be high upside in the Falcons offense.
A way-too-early look at Canada’s 2021 World Junior Championships roster – Sportsnet.ca
Hockey Canada announced a list of 47 players expected to participate in a 51-day evaluation camp en route to the 2021 World Junior Championships in Edmonton. Canada will put its title defence on the line, playing in Group A alongside Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland and Finland.
Canada will open the tournament on Dec. 26 against Germany, with the marquee preliminary round match-up against Finland on New Year’s eve.
At first glance, this roster is extremely deep. There are 26 first round picks and seven returnees from last year’s gold medal winning team. The list of 26 includes Kirby Dach, whom Hockey Canada learned it was getting on loan from the Chicago Blackhawks on Thursday.
One notable name not on the list was Alexis Lafreniere, the top pick by the New York Rangers in the 2020 draft. According to Hockey Canada president Tom Renney, talks are ongoing with Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton as to the participation of Lafreniere in either the camp or once Team Canada enters the bubble. We should know more in the next 10 days.
This camp will be challenging in that most of the players haven’t played a game since March. Nine players named to the camp from the QMJHL have played a varying number of games, as the only one of three CHL leagues currently on the ice.
In making things as safe as possible, each player and staff member will be tested for COVID-19 prior to leaving for camp, then tested regularly once camp begins. The evaluation camp will start on Nov. 16 in Red Deer, Alta. It is expected that the final roster of 25 players will enter the Edmonton bubble on Dec. 13.
The IIHF has made for an allowance of two extra players on the roster due to the pandemic. Canada will be allowed to carry 3 goalies and 22 skaters into the Edmonton bubble.
Discussion is ongoing with U Sports to play six exhibition games — with two pre-tournament games vs. Sweden and Russia — once Canada gets into the bubble.
Here’s a way-too-early-look at what Canada’s final roster might be (the “*” indicates a returnee from the 2020 team):
Synopsis: Goaltending is the biggest concern for this team. The position is wide open with no returnees from last year, as Joel Hofer, Nico Daws and Olivier Rodrigue have all aged-out.
Gauthier is the elder statesman of the group. He’s a right-catch tender who is extremely athletic and he’s a Hlinka-Gretzky gold medalist. If Gauthier can make the saves he’s supposed to make, he should be the starter. Garand has been brilliant for upstart Kamloops. He’s a monster competitor, who is technically sound. He is also very good at playing the puck. The third goalie is anyone’s guess. Lennox has the size, Brett Brochu has come out of nowhere and Devon Levi is extremely confident and has put up remarkable numbers at every level.
Synopsis: The defence corps provides a nice mix of experience, size and grit. Byram and Drysdale should anchor each of the top-two pairings, with both of them likely to see significant time on the power play.
Schneider, a Rangers’ first-rounder, was close to making it last year. He skates well, moves pucks efficiently and has great physical presence. The makeup of this group allows there to be a puck-mover paired with a complimentary or more of a stay-at-home type. O’Rourke, Guhle, and Korczak are all big and nasty, while Spence is a blend of Byram and Drysdale. This group is also split evenly between left and right shots.
TBD Alexis Lafreniere
Synopsis: The strength of this team is up front. If Dach plays and Lafreniere is added before the Dec. 13 cutoff date, Canada will possess the deepest group of forwards in the tournament.
There’s plenty of size down the middle with Dach, Byfield and Cozens. It will be a dogfight for the 4C position. Lafreniere would solidify the top left wing position, while an abundance of options remain, with many natural centres being forced to the wing.
McMichael snipes and Cozens can use his size and speed, while I expect big things from Byfield in an elevated role. Mercer can play anywhere in the lineup. The competition for forward spots will be intense.
Beckman led the WHL in scoring last season. Newhook was one of the best players at camp last year. Wright will not only have earned his way on the team, but he will be able to carry this experience forward. Pelletier is super slick and the long layoff has served him well. There will also be plenty of options for the power forward type in Greig, Holloway and Poulin.
Perfetti used last year’s snub as motivation and he’s poised to make the team this year. Goncalves had a breakout year in Everett last year, while Krebs spent time in the Vegas bubble. Tomasino has speed to burn and he’s a right shot.
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