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Canada is 'all business' ahead of high-stakes showdown with Finland – TSN

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William Nylander


What are the stakes tonight?

“They’re huge,” said Team Canada centre Alex Newhook. “We know what’s on the line. We know the opponent we’re playing is a really good opponent and they’ve had a good tournament so far. We’ll have to bring our A game if we want to take the group.”

A win and Canada takes top spot in Group A and faces the Czech Republic, fourth place in Group B, on Saturday. A loss leads to a knockout-stage date with either the United States or Sweden.

Team Canada spent one hour and 15 minutes on the ice yesterday, but after only 30 minutes of drills Andre Tourigny allowed his players to work on individual skills and have some fun. The coach said most of the adjustments at this stage of the tournament will be made through video sessions and chats with players.

“I like where our guys are at,” Tourigny said. “They’re all business. They’re smiling, but they’re all business. I can feel a good vibe, good prep, you can see it in their eyes, but at the same time they’re not tight. They’re ready for the competition.”

Team Canada has outscored the opposition 29-3 at the World Juniors while not trailing for even a second through three games. But they haven’t faced an opponent like the Finns, who are the only other undefeated team at the tournament.

“They’re a pretty fast group,” said Phil Tomasino, who has four goals and two assists despite skating in a fourth-line role. “We haven’t seen that type of speed the last few games so it’ll be a good challenge. We’re ready. We’ve watched a lot of video and prepared really well for it.”

“The last couple games it’s really been us taking it to them and the other team sitting back,” noted Jets first rounder Cole Perfetti. “Finland, they’re a crazy-skilled team and it will be a really good battle. It’s going to be good for us, heading into the medal round, to play a team like Finland to get us prepared and get us to tune-up on the defensive side of the game and stuff we haven’t had to work on as much the last couple of games.”

Team Canada will have to pay close attention to Finnish captain Anton Lundell who’s posted six points and leads the tournament in face-off percentage.

“They are the best team in face-offs in the tournament,” said Tourigny, “so they are a puck-possession team and they start with face-offs so we will have a good challenge on our face-offs tonight. We want to be a puck-possession team as well.”

Canada and Finland to battle for top spot in Group A on New Year’s Eve

Canada and Finland are both undefeated at the 2021 World Juniors, setting up a big New Year’s Eve battle for the top spot in Group A. Dave Tomlinson joins SportsCentre to discuss what Team Canada can expect from a red-hot Finland team.

When Tourigny shuffled his lines ahead of the Switzerland game on Tuesday, Perfetti and Newhook ended up together on a line with Peyton Krebs.

“It’s nice to play with Newy,” said Perfetti. “It was a lot of fun. Growing up I always played against him and that was the first time I played on a line with him.”

“Me and Perf have been close for a while,” said Newhook. “Playing against him, I’ve seen the stuff he can do with the puck and it’s fun to watch, but more fun to be a part of. When I moved to Ontario I played against him for two years there in the ETA [Eastern AAA Hockey] and OMHA [Ontario Minor Hockey Association] so great battles with him. We have a good relationship going and that chemistry will help moving forward.”

Newhook was born in St. John’s, but moved to Ontario at age 14 to further his hockey career. And playing with the York Simcoe Express allowed Newhook to form a relationship with former NHL goalie Curtis Joseph, who posted a supportive message on Twitter this week. The tweet included a video of Newhook scoring on Joseph on a breakaway.

“I actually played with his son for two years and me and Luke are best buddies so I got to know Curtis a bit. He’s a great guy and I did get him once in a shootout so that’s something I’ll take with me forever. We’ve stayed in touch over the years and for him to put that out is pretty funny. He’s a down-to-earth guy and I’m really fortunate to have met him.”

Joseph provided Newhook with insight on how a goalie sees things.

“It was kind of cool, actually,” Newhook recalled. “I’ve learned a lot from him life-wise just kind of asking questions about his path and what he’s gone through and then, from a goalie’s perspective, yeah, he kind of told me a bit of how he thought about guys coming down on shootouts and he helped me a bit on shootouts.”

Newhook on high-stakes game vs. Finland, relationship with CuJo

What are the stakes tonight against Finland? “They’re huge,” said Team Canada centre Alex Newhook. “We know what’s on the line.” A win and Canada clinches Group A and is assured of an easier quarterfinal opponent, but a loss means a knockout-round date with either Sweden or the United States. Newhook spoke to TSN about the challenge presented by the Finns and also reflected on his special relationship with former NHL goalie Curtis Joseph.

Team Canada has scored 29 goals at the World Juniors with four coming off the stick of a defenceman. Moncton’s Jordan Spence, a healthy scratch in all but one game so far, and Mississauga’s Thomas Harley have potted one each while Prince Albert’s Kaiden Guhle has a pair. Guhle, a Canadiens prospect, scored on a rocket from the point during Tuesday’s win over the Swiss and said he worked hard on his shot during the lengthy pandemic pause.

“You can never shoot enough pucks so whenever I got asked to go shoot on goalies for goalie ice I did it,” Guhle explained, “or just going out in the summer time and putting down some plastic ice and a net, I tried to do that.”

The smooth-skating Guhle, who brings a physical presence to Canada’s blueline, has worked hard in recent years to improve his offensive game. Last season, he posted 40 points in 64 games, which was a 23-point increase over the previous campaign.

“It was about puck skills and being more confident with the puck and allowing more things to open up,” he explained in a summer interview with TSN.

Ryan Suzuki scored his first World Juniors goal in his first game on Boxing Day, which led to a funny message from brother Nick Suzuki.

“He texted me and said, ‘At least one of us has a goal in this tournament!’ So he was pretty good about it. But whenever I talk to him it’s usually about other stuff and not hockey.”

The Montreal Canadiens centre produced three assists in five games in Vancouver as Canada lost in the quarterfinals at the 2019 World Juniors. Ryan, meanwhile, is now up to two goals this year in Edmonton.

Canada’s Suzuki aims to get the gold that eluded big brother Nick

Ryan Suzuki leaned on his big brother, Canadiens centre Nick Suzuki, for advice during Canada’s World Junior camp. Now that he’s made the team, the Saginaw Spirit forward is looking to do something big brother didn’t. “My dad gave me the news that I was going to be part of the team and he actually said that Nick didn’t get a gold medal [in 2019] so you can one-up him on that so that’s what I’m going to try and do.”

Team USA forward Arthur Kaliyev has used the same bizarre tape job on his stick since he was 13. There’s almost no tape on the blade and almost an entire roll at the the top of the stick.

“It is brutal,” said teammate Trevor Zegras. “His stick weighs 50 pounds maybe and nobody really knows why he tapes his stick like that. He told me it feels like a tennis racquet, his knob, so whatever that means. Pretty crazy. Never seen anything like that.”

TSN pressed Kaliyev for an explanation.

“I just liked it better than using a full blade,” he said. “I just liked it, that’s all. I just like how it feels. I prefer less tape.”

OK, and how about all the tape up top?

“I got the idea from a tennis racquet. I liked the feel so I started using it on my stick.”

Kaliyev scored 44 goals in 57 games with Hamilton of the Ontario Hockey League last season so it’s hard to question his approach.

“People are shocked at first,” he said. “They think it’s crazy, but whatever works for me.”

‘It’s brutal’: Searching for explanations for Kaliyev’s bizarre tape job

Arthur Kaliyev potted 44 goals in 57 games with the Hamilton Bulldogs last season while using one of the most bizarre tape jobs in hockey. “It’s brutal,” said teammate Trevor Zegras. “His stick weighs 50 pounds maybe and nobody really knows why.” TSN asked the the Team USA forward for the reason behind his heavy on the top, light on the bottom approach.

Projected Team Canada line-up:

Holloway – McMichael – Cozens
​Perfetti – Newhook – Krebs
Quinn- Byfield – Pelletier
Mercer – Suzuki – Tomasino
Zary

Byram – Drysdale
Harley – Schneider
Guhle – Barron
Korczak

Levi starts

Projected Team Finland line-up:

Hirvonen – Lundell – Simontaival
Pyyhtiä – Pärssinen – Lambert
Järventie – Nikkanen – Räty
Korhonen – Helenius – Petman
Puhakka

Hatakka – Heinola
Kokkonen – Puutio
Viro – Niemelä
Rajaniemi

Piiroinen starts

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Sinclair to lead Canadian women’s team in her fourth Olympics

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Christine Sinclair, the all-time international goal-scoring record holder, was named to her fourth Olympic squad on Wednesday and will headline a Canadian roster at the Tokyo Games that features a mix of veterans and youth.

Led by Sinclair, whose 186 goals for her country are the most by a female or male soccer player worldwide, Canada won medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and was the only nation to make the podium in both competitions.

“I am looking forward to doing whatever I can to help take this team back to the podium and make history again,” said Canadian captain Sinclair. “Our team is in a good spot, we are excited, we are hungry and we are ready to go.”

The 18-player roster features 12 members of the squad that competed at the 2016 Rio Games while a quintet including Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso, Adriana Leon, and Evelyne Viens will be making their Olympic debuts.

Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan travelled to Rio in 2016 as an alternate.

Canada will kick off their Tokyo 2020 journey when they face Japan on July 21 and continue Group E play against Chile on July 24 and Britain on July 27.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Which of the Canadians Picked in the 2021 NFL Draft Will Thrive This Season?

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It was a good NFL Draft for Canadian players in 2021.

Some four stars from north of the border were selected by NFL franchises in the free agency pick ‘em, and that is tied as the highest number of Canadians drafted in the 85-year history of the event.

Of course, the hope is that these young talents are more than just filler and roster depth, but can any of the quartet make the breakthrough into the big time?

Here’s a look at which of the NFL’s newest Canadian additions can shine in 2021/22.

Jevon Holland

The defensive back was the number 36 pick in the Draft by the Miami Dolphins, who beat off a number of rivals in the hunt for the Coquitlam native.

A versatile defender, Holland is a former Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist thanks to his exploits in the NCAA back in 2019 with the University of Oregon.

He sat out the 2020 campaign, but representatives from dozens of NFL teams were in town to watch Holland go through his paces at the Oregon Pro Day.

The 21-year-old is following in the footsteps of his father Robert, who turned out for the Detroit Lions, and he is expected to force his way into the starting line-up at the Dolphins. And, who knows, maybe Holland could go all the way in his first season, with Miami priced at +2500 in the Super Bowl 2022 American football odds.

Benjamin St-Juste

When you’re six foot three, 205 pounds and still able to run 40 yards in 4.51 seconds, it goes without saying that you have the physical credentials to succeed in the NFL.

Benjamin St-Juste is the man that can, and he will bolster the roster at a Washington Football Team that will be looking to improve upon their playoff showing in 2020.

The 23-year-old may only have been a third-round pick, but he comes with a burgeoning reputation thanks to a successful time at the University of Minnesota. An All-Big Ten special mention in 2019, more than 50 NFL recruitment personnel attended the college’s pro day – largely to catch a glimpse of St-Juste going through his paces.

Both Brian Gutekunst and Jon Robinson made the trip but, in the end, it was Washington who snapped up the powerhouse from the Draft.

Chuba Hubbard

The third Canadian to be drafted in 2021 was Chuba Hubbard, who became the first Canadian running back to be selected from the Draft in 25 years.

It’s the Carolina Panthers who have taken a chance on the 22-year-old and with his credentials, you can see why. Hubbard finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2019 after a stellar campaign – he served up 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, an NCAA best. He was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

While running backs are not the hottest of properties in the Draft, Hubbard provably has the talent to cross into the end zone with regularity – the Panthers might just have got their hands on an unheralded gem here.

With these three Canadians taking the step up to the NFL, the future of the sport north of the border looks in safe hands.

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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s

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Andy Murray‘s grasscourt return was cut short in brutal fashion at Queen’s Club as Italian top seed Matteo Berrettini dished out a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the former world number one on Thursday.

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)

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