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Canada overcomes Foote ejection



OSTRAVA, Czech Republic — Thursday’s quarter-final didn’t exactly start off on the right Foote for Team Canada.

Sniper Nolan Foote was ejected 53 seconds in, booked for a five-minute major and game misconduct for an egregiously incorrect head contact call.

Good thing Foote’s all-world hands and NHL-quality shot weren’t needed.

Team Canada could’ve sent Slovakia packing playing with their sticks upside down.

Captain Barrett Hayton scored just 54 seconds after Team Canada patiently killed off Foote’s five-minute major, officially putting Canada in control of a contest that never really seemed in doubt.

They poured it on with four goals in the second period, including one from Alexis Lafreniere, who returned for the first time since suffering a knee injury on Dec. 28, en route to a 6-1 victory that ended Slovakia’s tournament.


Team Canada will be playing for a medal for the first time in two years at the World Junior Championship. Last year’s squad was bounced in the quarter-final round on home soil in Vancouver.

Canada’s path to gold is not yet clear.

For the first time, the World Junior Championship is re-seeding for the semifinal. By virtue of winning Group B in the preliminary round, Canada is the second seed for the medal round.

If top seed Sweden knocks off the host Czech Republic (8th), Team Canada will face the winner of the Team USA (4th) – Team Finland (5th) quarter-final in the semis on Saturday.

That either means a grudge match against the Americans, who both held and then erased two-goal leads against Canada on Boxing Day to open the tournament, or the Finnish team that knocked Canada out of the tournament last season on their way to gold.

It may not have been flashy, but Team Canada improved to 13-0-1 all-time over Slovakia with a methodical, check-the-boxes victory.

Projected No. 1 overall NHL pick Lafreniere playing at full strength? Check. Lafreniere was lethal with a goal and an assist.

Another quality start from Joel Hofer? Check. Hofer was minutes away from dealing Slovakia their fourth shutout in their last five games against Canada.

Even-strength dominance? Check. Canada controlled the puck possession game and their first four goals of the afternoon came at five-on-five, with Hayton, Connor McMichael, Jacob Bernard-Docker and Liam Foudy doing the damage.

Solid penalty kill performance? Check. The bulk of Slovakia’s seven first-period shots came on that five-minute power play to open the contest. But Canada only allowed one real quality chance over the whole five minutes, a 2-on-1 that Hofer turned aside with a right pad save that kicked out the puck like a pinball flipper.

Defence activation in the offence? Check. After Canada’s defence generated just one point over the first two games of the tournament, the D has now accounted for 16 points over the last five games. Calen Addison and 17-year-old Jamie Drysdale added two points apiece on Thursday.

The only box remaining to be checked is Foote’s availability for Saturday’s semifinal.

That shouldn’t be an issue, but then again, Joe Veleno was suspended for one game for a head-butt that would’ve been considered a kiss in coach Dale Hunter’s era in the NHL.

Short of that, Canada appears to be clicking on all cylinders heading into the final four.

Contact Frank Seravalli on Twitter: @frank_seravalli​

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Daniel Jones Tackles Himself on 80-Yard Run – Sports Illustrated



By the time Daniel Jones had reached the 50-yard line, Fox play-by-play man Joe Buck had seen enough.

“He is gone!” Buck shouted, and every piece of evidence supported this claim. Jones, who has good speed, was four yards ahead of the closest defender, and there were some Eagles pursuers who were already starting to ease up and let the inevitable happen.

And then, Jones’s worst nightmares came to life.

There’s been more than enough negativity to go around for the Giants this season, and this won’t be the space to add on to the pile. The play represented the longest rushing play by a quarterback since Marcus Mariota’s 87-yard touchdown scamper in Week 13 of 2015. It’s the fourth-longest run by a quarterback in league history, and it’s one yard longer than Saquon Barkley’s career high.

All’s well that ends well, and I’m pleased to report that the Giants scored a touchdown four plays later. Jones’s teammates didn’t wait that long to appreciate the humor of the moment, not even attempting to hide their laughter after Jones got too far ahead of his skis.

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, whose career-long rush is a mere 28 yards, sympathized with Jones’ plight on Twitter:

Jones was already the team leader in rushing yards coming into Thursday’s game, and he’s widened the gap with his most recent graceful display. Eli Manning’s career long was just 18 yards, so Jones is well on his way to winning over the hearts of Giants fans for years to come.

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NHL postpones Winter Classic, All-Star Weekend for upcoming season –



The NHL has postponed the 2021 NHL Winter Classic and the 2021 NHL All-Star Weekend.

The Winter Classic was set to feature the Minnesota Wild and St. Louis Blues at Minnesota’s Target Field on Jan. 1, 2021, while the Florida Panthers were set to host the 2021 All-Star Weekend at BB&T Center.

The postponements come “due to the ongoing uncertainty resulting from the coronavirus,” the league said via a statement, adding that it intends to return to Minnesota and Florida for these events in the future.

“Fan participation, both in arenas and stadiums as well as in the ancillary venues and events that we stage around the Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend, is integral to the success of our signature events,” NHL senior executive vice president and chief content officer Steve Mayer said via a release.

“Because of the uncertainty as to when we will be able to welcome our fans back to our games, we felt that the prudent decision at this time was to postpone these celebrations until 2022 when our fans should be able to enjoy and celebrate these tentpole events in-person, as they were always intended.

“We are also considering several new and creative events that will allow our fans to engage with our games and teams during this upcoming season.”

The league’s release added that the postponement announcement does not affect the NHL and NHLPA’s previously stated goal of starting the next NHL season on or around Jan. 1, 2021.

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Vikings trade Yannick Ngakoue to Ravens for multiple picks



MINNEAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings traded defensive end Yannick Ngakoue to the Baltimore Ravens for draft picks on Thursday, less than two months after acquiring the fifth-year pass rusher in a deal with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Ngakoue is tied for fourth in the NFL with five sacks in six games, including two forced fumbles, but the Vikings entered their bye week with a 1-5 record and thus more incentive to focus on the future than stay competitive in 2020.

“This was an opportunity that I felt would accomplish both the short and long term as we move forward, but these decisions aren’t easy to make,” Vikings general manager Rick Spielman said.

With Everson Griffen gone via free agency and Danielle Hunter injured since the beginning of training camp with a potentially season-ending neck injury, the Vikings on Aug. 31 sent a second-round draft pick in 2021 and a conditional fifth-round selection in 2022 for Ngakoue. He wanted to leave the Jaguars after accumulating 37 1/2 sacks in four years and called his arrival in Minnesota “a breath of fresh air.”

The Vikings have Ifeadi Odenigbo in place at defensive end, and fourth-round draft pick D.J. Wonnum will now be in line to start at the other spot.

“What you envision sometimes unfortunately doesn’t always come true,” Spielman said.

Minutes after Spielman’s previously scheduled video news conference with reporters, NFL Network reported Hunter has decided to have surgery. The Vikings were initially hoping he’d be able to return with rest and rehabilitation, and Spielman said acquiring Ngakoue was not related to Hunter’s injury. Since then, outside linebacker Anthony Barr was also lost for the season with a torn pectoral muscle suffered on Sept. 20.

“You try to readjust with some of the top playmakers you don’t have, especially on the defensive side. That’s what the coaches are doing right now,” Spielman said.

With the trade deadline approaching on Nov. 3, the Vikings could try to trade some other high-priced veterans, with perhaps safety Anthony Harris, left tackle Riley Reiff or tight end Kyle Rudolph enticing another team to part with a draft pick or two. Spielman steadfastly refused to commit to a full-on rebuild.

“Our goal every week is to go out there and win football games. You have to balance out both. I still think we have a very talented team,” Spielman said.

The Vikings didn’t disclose specifics of the acquired draft selections. ESPN reported the Ravens will send a 2021 third-round pick and a 2022 conditional fifth-round pick.

Both teams are on their bye week.

The Ravens (5-1) could use Ngakoue to enhance a pass rush that has been productive of late but could use the help. Despite getting seven sacks against Cincinnati two weeks ago, five of those came from defensive backs. Defensive end Calais Campbell was acquired via trade, also from Jacksonville, during the last off-season. He had three of Baltimore’s six sacks last week in a 30-28 win at Philadelphia, but Ngakoue ought to minimize the need to send extra rushers and allow the Ravens to generate more pressure from their front four, just as the Vikings were intending.

“A quarterback can’t throw the ball if he’s on his back. So, if you can’t get there with four, you send five. If you can’t get there with five, send six. That’s the way it goes,” pass defenceco-ordinator Chris Hewitt said.

The Ravens are fourth in the league in sacks per pass attempt.

“We are excited to add Yannick Ngakoue to our football team,” Ravens general manager Eric DeCosta said. “Yannick is someone who we are very familiar with going back to the draft process years ago. He is an exciting player and a dangerous pass rusher who makes us better. Yannick grew up here. He’s the type of person we welcome in our building. Finally, we are not finished building this team, as we continue to chase our ultimate goals.”

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