Connect with us

Sports

Canada grinds out a win over Slovakia in first test at world juniors – Sportsnet.ca

Published

 on


EDMONTON — It was of those games you’ll never remember — unless Canada loses it. Then, it would never be forgotten.

It was dull, it was workmanlike, it was frustrating and at times sloppy. But it turned into a win for Team Canada, which ground out a 3-1 victory over Slovakia on Sunday in Edmonton.

“Concentrate on your work ethic, your courage, and … as a team we can just do good things,” Slovak head coach Robert Petrovicky told his players. “Our boys are happy to be here, and we want to do something special as a team.”

They very nearly did.

After a 16-2 win over Germany the night before, this was a brown out for Canada, which scored 4:06 into the game and again 3:25 before the final buzzer, while adding an empty netter. In between it was a power outage, as the country that gave hockey the brothers Stastny, Zdeno Chara and Miroslav Satan gave Canada a (cough) devil of a time in their second game at the 2021 World Juniors.

Dylan Holloway took the skate but did not play due to injury, joining injured captain Kirby Dach, while defenceman Braden Schneider was serving a one-game suspension for a head shot delivered against Germany. That’s OK though, because it was his replacement, Jordan Spence, who scored the game-opening Canadian goal that stood up for most of the night.

On Saturday, Canada had 10 different goal scorers and points from 17 of 20 players. On Sunday, Canada had just 23 shots on goal.

Here are our takeaways, as Canada moves to 2-0 at the tournament.

The Whitehorse Workhorse

Dylan Cozens is emerging as the leader of a team that lost captain Kirby Dach before the tournament even began. The Buffalo Sabres draftee followed a six-point night versus Germany with a key assist Sunday and an all-around performance that just oozed leadership.

“Cozy was really solid for us today,” Canadian coach Andre Tourigny said. “It wasn’t easy … and at some point we had a little bit of emotion on the bench. Dylan stayed calm and cool, and his presence was really good. He stayed patient and that translated to his teammates.”

Remember, Tourigny’s team has barely played together — just one pre-tournament game and two more after that. There is much to learn, and little time to do it inside the short window of this tournament.

“We grew as a group tonight,” Tourigny said. “We learned to go through adversity, and to keep our composure. It went away a little bit, in the second period we were forcing it, but by the end of the period we were patient with the outcome. Not panicking or trying to force it.

“As a team we learned,” he continued. “You learn about your players when the pressure is on. Who changes their game? Who just stays composed? Dylan Cozens really stayed with it. He’s been in that tough situation before, and it showed.”

Hey Nineteen

It was Devon Levi’s birthday, but Jordan Spence got the present.

After being a healthy scratch in Game 1, Spence scored on his first shift of the game, a goal that held up most of the night for Canada.

“A loose puck in front of the net and it came right to me. Pretty cool,” said Spence, lucky to draw in due to Schneider’s suspension. “It’s been amazing. It was unfortunate for Schneider to get suspended, and I got the call I was going to be in the lineup. Obviously a lot of emotions going on, being scratched, coming back the next day and then scoring. It’s amazing.”

At the other end, Levi was spending his 19th birthday trying to stay awake. The Slovaks had just four shots in each of the first two periods.

“I woke up, ate breakfast and focused on the game. Didn’t go on the phone much … I’ll answer my birthday wishes later. Just being here is enough,” Levi said. “It’s definitely not easy to get eight shots in the first two periods, then come into quite a few shots (nine in the third). Being a 1-0 game definitely kept me in it. I stayed focused, and just concentrated on the next shot.”

There is a lot of talk around Team Canada about the process. Don’t worry about the score, the kind of game being played, or whether you’re getting the bounces. Just play the way you’re supposed to play.

“Just stay humble,” Spence said, “and don’t let the distractions get in our way.”

•••

When Canada beats a team by 14 we shrug our shoulders and say, “Mismatch.” So, when a country like Slovakia comes out and gives out boys everything they can handle, let’s tip our cap to them, shall we?

Led by head coach and NHL veteran Petrovicky — Hartford, Dallas, St. Louis, Tampa, New York Islanders — the Slovaks have never been a U-20 powerhouse.

“After the second period the game was close,” said Petrovicky, who told his players during the second intermission, “to wait for the opportunity. It will come. It didn’t go our way at the end of the game. But I am very proud of the boys.

“Of course, we were playing a patient game and waiting for our chance. We were getting closer and closer, had a couple of chances … Every player has to buy in — that’s what we come for. To play as a team. We lost the game but I felt we played well, played hard. I’m proud of the guys.”

The only scoreless tie in Canada’s World Junior history came against the Slovaks in 1999 at Winnipeg, and since then Canada has won 14 straight in this matchup. At 14-0-1, Canada has never lost to the Slovaks, outscoring them 75-16. This game was much closer than expected, to be sure.

“After the game we were happy,” said Martin Chromiak, who had the only Slovak goal on a blistering power play wrister that made the score 2-1 for Canada with 1:24 to play. “We had so many opportunities to score a tying goal. But I think we did a really good job. We watched the game yesterday (against Germany) but we didn’t think about it.”

Goalie Samuel Hlavac only saw 23 shots. Compared to the 44 Canada fired on the German nets — or the 73 that the United States wired at the Austrian net on Boxing Day — this was almost a night off for the Slovak goaltender.

“It’s Canada, so we expect the worse,” Hlavac said. “But we played a really good game. Our guys blocked every shot, I think we can build on this game for the future.

“In the D zone we were not giving them the space. Just gave the shots from the blue-line.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

One-time home-run king Hank Aaron dead at 86 – CBC.ca

Published

 on


Hank Aaron, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s home run record and gracefully left his mark as one of baseball’s greatest all-around players, died Friday. He was 86.

Atlanta, Aaron’s longtime team, said he died peacefully in his sleep. No cause was given.

Aaron made his last public appearance just two-and-a-half weeks ago, when he received the COVID-19 vaccine. He said he wanted to help spread word to Black Americans that the vaccine was safe.

“Hammerin’ Hank” set a wide array of career hitting records during a 23-year career spent mostly with the Milwaukee and Atlanta, including RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases.

His most memorable swing

But the Hall of Famer will be remembered for one swing above all others, the one that made him baseball’s home run king.

It was a title he would be hold for more than 33 years, a period in which the Hammer slowly but surely claimed his rightful place as one of America’s most iconic sporting figures, a true national treasure worthy of mention in the same breath with Ruth or Ali or Jordan.

[embedded content]

Before a sellout crowd at Atlanta Stadium and a national television audience, Aaron broke Ruth’s home run record with No. 715 off Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Hall of Famer finished his career with 755, a total surpassed by Barry Bonds in 2007 — though many continued to call the Hammer the true home run king because of allegations that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs.

Bonds finished his tarnished career with 762, though Aaron never begrudged someone eclipsing his mark.

His common refrain: More than three decades as the king was long enough. It was time for someone else to hold the record.

But no one could take away his legacy.

“I just tried to play the game the way it was supposed to be played,” Aaron said, summing it up better than anyone.

He wasn’t on hand when Bonds hit No. 756, but he did tape a congratulatory message that was shown on the video board in San Francisco shortly after the new record-holder went deep.

While saddened by claims of rampant steroid use in baseball in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Aaron never challenged those marks set by players who may have taken pharmaceutical short cuts.

[embedded content]

Besides, he always had that April night in 1974.

“Downing was more of a finesse pitcher,” Aaron remembered shortly before the 30th anniversary of the landmark homer. “I guess he was trying to throw me a screwball or something. Whatever it was, I got enough of it.”

Aaron endured abuse, racism

Aaron’s journey to that memorable homer was hardly pleasant.

He was the target of extensive hate mail as he closed in on Ruth’s cherished record of 714, much of it sparked by the fact that Ruth was white and Aaron was Black.

“If I was white, all America would be proud of me,” Aaron said almost a year before he passed Ruth. “But I am Black.”

We’re a different country now. You’ve given us far more than we’ll ever give you.– Bill Clinton, former U.S. president 

Aaron was shadowed constantly by bodyguards and forced to distance himself from teammates.

He kept all those hateful letters, a bitter reminder of the abuse he endured and never forgot.

“It’s very offensive,” he once said. “They call me ‘n—–‘ and every other bad word you can come up with. You can’t ignore them. They are here. But this is just the way things are for Black people in America. It’s something you battle all of your life.”

After retiring in 1976, Aaron became a revered, almost mythical figure, even though he never pursued the spotlight.

He was thrilled when the U.S. elected its first African-American president, Barack Obama, in 2008. Former president Bill Clinton credited Aaron with helping carve a path of racial tolerance that made Obama’s victory possible.

“We’re a different country now,” Clinton said at a 75th birthday celebration for Aaron. “You’ve given us far more than we’ll ever give you.”

Aaron spent 21 of his 23 seasons with the Braves, first in Milwaukee, then in Atlanta after the franchise moved to the Deep South in 1966. He finished his career back in Milwaukee, traded to the Brewers after the 1974 season when he refused to take a front-office job that would have required a big pay cut.

Feared hitter, gifted fielder

While knocking the ball over the fence became his signature accomplishment, the Hammer was hardly a one-dimensional star. In fact, he never hit more than 47 homers in a season (though he did have eight years with at least 40 dingers).

But it can be argued that no one was so good, for so long, at so many facets of the national pastime.

The long ball was only part of his arsenal.

Aaron was a true five-tool star.

He posted 14 seasons with a .300 average — the last of them at age 39 — and claimed two National League (NL) batting titles. He finished with a career average of .305.

Aaron also was a gifted outfielder with a powerful arm, something often overlooked because of a smooth, effortless stride that his critics — with undoubtedly racist overtones — mistook for nonchalance. He was a three-time Gold Glove winner.

Then there was his work on the base paths. Aaron posted seven seasons with more than 20 stolen bases, including a career-best of 31 in 1963 when became only the third member of the 30-30 club — players who have totalled at least 30 homers and 30 steals in a season.

To that point, the feat had only been accomplished by Ken Williams (1922) and Willie Mays (1956 and ’57).

Six-feet tall and listed at 180 pounds during the prime of his career, Aaron was hardly an imposing player physically. But he was blessed with powerful wrists that made him one of the game’s most feared hitters.

‘A quiet superstar’

Hall of Famer Mike Schmidt described Aaron as “an unassuming, easygoing man, a quiet superstar, that a ’70s player like me emulated.”

“He was one of my heroes as a kid, and will always be an icon of the baby boomer generation,” Schmidt said. “In fact, if you weigh all the elements involved and compare the game fairly, his career will never be topped.”

Aaron hit 733 homers with the Braves, the last in his final plate appearance with the team, a liner down the left field line off Cincinnati’s Rawley Eastwick on Oct. 2, 1974. Exactly one month later, he was dealt to the Brewers for outfielder Dave May and minor league pitcher Roger Alexander.

The Braves made it clear they no longer wanted Aaron, then 40, returning for another season on the field. They offered him a front office job for $50,000 a year, about $150,000 less than his playing salary.

“Titles?” he said at the time. “Can you spend titles at the grocery store? Executive vice-president, assistant to the executive vice-president, what does it mean if it doesn’t pay good money? I might become a janitor for big money.”

Aaron became a designated hitter with the Brewers, but hardly closed his career with a flourish. He managed just 22 homers over his last two seasons, going out with a .229 average in 1976.

Standing the test of time

Even so, his career numbers largely stood the test of time.

Aaron still has more RBIs (2,297), extra-base hits (1,477) and total bases (6,856) than anyone in baseball history. He ranks second in at-bats (12,354), third in games played (3,298) and hits (3,771), fourth in runs scored (tied with Ruth at 2,174) and 13th in doubles (624).

“I feel like that home run I hit is just part of what my story is all about,” Aaron said.

While Aaron hit at least 20 homers in 20 consecutive seasons, he was hardly swinging for the fences. He just happened to hit a lot of balls that went over the fence.

Through his career, Aaron averaged just 63 strikeouts a season. He never whiffed even 100 times in a year — commonplace for hitters these days — and posted a career on-base percentage of .374.

He was NL MVP in 1957, when the Milwaukee Braves beat the New York Yankees in seven games to give Aaron the only World Series title of his career. It also was his lone MVP award, though he finished in the top 10 of the balloting 13 times.

Aaron also was selected for the All-Star Game 21 consecutive years — every season but his first and his last.

His only regret was failing to capture the Triple Crown. Aaron led the NL in homers and RBIs four times each, to go with those two batting crowns. But he never put together all three in the same season, coming closest in 1963 when he led the league in homers (44) and RBIs (130) but finished third in hitting (.319) behind Tommy Davis of the Dodgers with a .326 average.

“Other than that,” Aaron said, “everything else was completed.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Hall of Famer, Braves legend Hank Aaron dies at age 86 – Sportsnet.ca

Published

 on


ATLANTA — Hank Aaron, who endured racist threats with stoic dignity during his pursuit of Babe Ruth’s home run record and gracefully left his mark as one of baseball’s greatest all-around players, died Friday. He was 86.

The Atlanta Braves, Aaron’s longtime team, said he died peacefully in his sleep. No cause was given.

Aaron made his last public appearance just 2 1/2 weeks ago, when he received the COVID-19 vaccine. He said he wanted to help spread the to Black Americans that the vaccine was safe.

“Hammerin’ Hank” set a wide array of career hitting records during a 23-year career spent mostly with the Milwaukee and Atlanta Braves, including RBIs, extra-base hits and total bases.

But the Hall of Famer will be remembered for one swing above all others, the one that made him baseball’s home-run king.

It was a title he would be hold for more than 33 years, a period in which the Hammer slowly but surely claimed his rightful place as one of America’s most iconic sporting figures, a true national treasure worthy of mention in the same breath with Ruth or Ali or Jordan.

Before a sellout crowd at Atlanta Stadium and a national television audience, Aaron broke Ruth’s home run record with No. 715 off Al Downing of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Hall of Famer finished his career with 755, a total surpassed by Barry Bonds in 2007 — though many continued to call the Hammer the true home run king because of allegations that Bonds used performance-enhancing drugs.

Bonds finished his tarnished career with 762, though Aaron never begrudged someone eclipsing his mark.

His common refrain: More than three decades as the king was long enough. It was time for someone else to hold the record.

No one could take away his legacy.

“I just tried to play the game the way it was supposed to be played,” Aaron said, summing it up better than anyone.

He wasn’t on hand when Bonds hit No. 756, but he did tape a congratulatory message that was shown on the video board in San Francisco shortly after the new record-holder went deep. While saddened by claims of rampant steroid use in baseball in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Aaron never challenged those marks set by players who may have taken pharmaceutical short cuts.

Besides, he always had that April night in 1974.

“Downing was more of a finesse pitcher,” Aaron remembered shortly before the 30th anniversary of the landmark homer. “I guess he was trying to throw me a screwball or something. Whatever it was, I got enough of it.”

Aaron’s journey to that memorable homer was hardly pleasant. He was the target of extensive hate mail as he closed in on Ruth’s cherished record of 714, much of it sparked by the fact Ruth was white and Aaron was black.

“If I was white, all America would be proud of me,” Aaron said almost a year before he passed Ruth. “But I am black.”

Aaron was shadowed constantly by bodyguards and forced to distance himself from teammates. He kept all those hateful letters, a bitter reminder of the abuse he endured and never forgot.

“It’s very offensive,” he once said. “They call me `nigger’ and every other bad word you can come up with. You can’t ignore them. They are here. But this is just the way things are for black people in America. It’s something you battle all of your life.”

After retiring in 1976, Aaron became a revered, almost mythical figure, even though he never pursued the spotlight. He was thrilled when the U.S. elected its first African-American president, Barack Obama, in 2008. Former President Bill Clinton credited Aaron with helping carve a path of racial tolerance that made Obama’s victory possible.

“We’re a different country now,” Clinton said at a 75th birthday celebration for Aaron. “You’ve given us far more than we’ll ever give you.”

Aaron spent 21 of his 23 seasons with the Braves, first in Milwaukee, then in Atlanta after the franchise moved to the Deep South in 1966. He finished his career back in Milwaukee, traded to the Brewers after the 1974 season when he refused to take a front-office job that would have required a big pay cut.

While knocking the ball over the fence became his signature accomplishment, the Hammer was hardly a one-dimensional star. In fact, he never hit more than 47 homers in a season (though he did have eight years with at least 40 dingers).

But it can be argued that no one was so good, for so long, at so many facets of the national pastime.

The long ball was only part of his arsenal.

Aaron was a true five-tool star.

He posted 14 seasons with a .300 average — the last of them at age 39 — and claimed two National League batting titles. He finished with a career average of .305.

Aaron also was a gifted outfielder with a powerful arm, something often overlooked because of a smooth, effortless stride that his critics — with undoubtedly racist overtones — mistook for nonchalance. He was a three-time Gold Glove winner.

Then there was his work on the base paths. Aaron posted seven seasons with more than 20 stolen bases, including a career-best of 31 in 1963 when became only the third member of the 30-30 club — players who have totalled at least 30 homers and 30 steals in a season.

To that point, the feat had only been accomplished by Ken Williams (1922) and Willie Mays (1956 and ’57).

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

The Montreal Canadiens depth is about to be tested – Habs Eyes on the Prize

Published

 on


The Montreal Canadiens have had a very straight forward season thus far. They have used 18 skaters and two goaltenders. The only transactions they have made have been to save cap room on off days.

Even Victor Mete, who is the only extra player on the active roster, has yet to play a game this season.

That will very likely change on Saturday when the team plays their third straight game against the Vancouver Canucks. The Canadiens depth has been the strength of their team through five games. From every line scoring, to minutes being distributed evenly, the team has proven that they have effective depth.

The other prong to that depth is having internal replacements. It was the reason the team added Corey Perry and Michael Frolik before training camp opened even though the lineup appeared set. A team with playoff aspirations — especially in the reality of the current season — needs to have players come in and perform.

With Joel Armia suffering from a concussion and Paul Byron leaving early after taking a shot off of his foot, there is a good chance someone will have to come into the lineup. Canadiens coach Claude Julien has no issue going to his taxi squad, especially for the two veteran forwards.

“Those two players have been a great example to our young players,” Julien said after Thursday’s 7-3 win against the Canucks. “They are leading the way right now. What we like about that is their experience and what they are showing to young players who want to become good professionals. They have a great attitude. That’s why [general manager Marc Bergevin] went out to get them: If things happen along the way, we have depth. They are players who can play, who can help us. We’ll see what our injury situation is and how we can react with any changes.”

The situation to bring both into the lineup isn’t as simple as changing the lineup card. Between the team’s cap situation and waiver situation, there will need to be some maneuvering. The Canadiens may have enough cap space to bring one player up without needing anyone to go on long-term injury reserve (LTIR). LTIR would require a player to miss a minimum 24 days or 10 games which is a lot of time for what could be a short-term injury just to get around the cap. LTIR would allow a team to replace the salary of the player. Regular injured reserve is only a minimum of a week but provides zero cap relief.

There is the chance, if both Armia and Byron — who Julien said would be evaluated day-to day — are out that the Canadiens may have to play with 11 forwards and seven defencemen since Mete is on the active roster.

Another possible option would be to send down Alexander Romanov for Saturday’s game, and play Mete in his spot on defence. That would allow both Perry and Frolik to be called up even if no one is placed on LTIR. It’s not ideal for the rookie defenceman, but it wouldn’t need to be a long-term solution either.

Bergevin knew he would have to pull off some cap gymnastics this season. He did his stretching during the off-season to prepare for the inevitability of injuries. Now we’ll have to see what happens now that those gymnastics, and the depth, is being tested.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending