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Canada reaches gold-medal game with win over Russia at world juniors

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EDMONTON — Canada will play for gold at the world junior hockey championship in Edmonton after beating Russia 5-0 in semifinal action Monday.

Alex Newhook returned from injury to put Canada on the board just 59 seconds into the game.

Connor McMichael, Cole Perfetti and Braden Schneider added goals for the defending champs, and Dylan Cozens sealed the result with an empty netter.

Russian goaltender Yaroslav Askarov struggled to hang on to his stick at times and stopped 30-of-34 shots.

Devon Levi had 28 saves to collect his third shutout of the tournament.

The United States and Finland were set to face off in the other semifinal game later on Monday. The medal round will be played Tuesday.

There were fears that Newhook would not return to the tournament after suffering an upper-body injury in Canada’s final preliminary-round game against Finland on New Year’s Eve.

The Colorado Avalanche prospect from Corner Brook, N.L., missed Saturday’s quarterfinal game against the Czech Republic but looked healthy on Monday when he scored his third goal of the tournament on his first shift of the game.

Newhook’s shot hit the back bar of the Russian net and popped back out before anyone on the ice knew it went in. Play continued until the goal horn was sounded and officials reviewed the video as Newhook’s teammates congratulated him on the bench.

McMichael added to Canada’s lead midway through the first frame after a battle in front of the net resulted in Askarov misplacing his stick.

Jakob Pelletier sent a crisp pass to McMichael downlow and the native of Ajax, Ont., popped it in behind the Russian netminder to put Canada up 2-0.

A power-play marker from Perfetti widened the margin 15:05 into the first period.

Less than five minutes into the second frame, Askarov lost his stick once again and Canada capitalized.

Schneider took a long shot from the top of the face-off circle and beat the Russian goalie glove side. It was his first goal of the tournament.

Russia got on the board with less than three minutes to go in the second period only to have its goal disallowed.

Canadian defenceman Justin Barron got tangled with Levi on a Russian power play, preventing the goaltender from getting all the way across the net in time to stop a shot from Mikhail Abramov.

The Russians celebrated but Canada quickly challenged the call for an offside zone entry and, upon review, the officials agreed, waving off the goal.

Cozens nearly added to the Canadian tally with just 30 seconds to go in the second period when the Buffalo Sabres prospect was awarded a penalty shot. But Askarov stopped Cozens’ backhand attempt with his skate.

Russia pushed hard in the third period.

Shakir Mukhamadullin came close to scoring midway through the frame, ringing a shot off the post.

Both teams went down to four men with just over four minutes left on the clock after Peyton Krebs and Zakhar Bardakov were called for roughing.

The Russians pulled Askarov with about three minutes to go, and Cozens buried the empty-net goal with 1:29 left on the clock.

The 19-year-old from Whitehorse, Yukon, also had two assists in the game. With 16 points (eight goals, eight assists), he leads the tournament in scoring.

The tilt between Canada and Russia on Monday was a rematch of last year’s gold-medal game, which saw the Canadians claw their way back from a deficit for a dramatic 4-3 win.

Source: – Sportsnet.ca

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Why George Armstrong was the best captain the Maple Leafs ever had – Sportsnet.ca

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George Armstrong would stand in front of the full-length mirror in the locker room, his arms skinny like broomsticks, teeth in his hand and belly puffed out.

“You’re beautiful, Chiefy-cat,” he’d say, flexing his muscles as his teammates roared with laughter.

This was the ‘Chief’: the Toronto Maple Leafs captain who doubled as locker-room joker.

“George always kept things light,” recalled fellow Hall of Famer and former teammate Red Kelly back in 2013, chuckling. “Toronto was lucky to have him, in good times and bad.”

Armstrong, nicknamed Chief because of his Iroquois heritage, died at the age of 90. The team announced his passing on Sunday.

One of the first players of Indigenous descent to play professional hockey and the longest-serving captain in Maple Leafs history, Armstrong played his first full season for the Blue and White in 1952. He was named captain six years later by team owner Conn Smythe and wore the “C” for 12 seasons, leading the Leafs to four Stanley Cups. During the unlikely run in 1967 against the Montreal Canadiens, it was the Chief who scored the Cup-clinching goal on an empty net.

“He got over centre and he shot the puck, straight as an arrow,” Kelly said.

It’s a moment burned in the memory of many a Leafs fan; the last time Toronto hoisted Lord Stanley’s mug.

Despite all of Armstrong’s accomplishments, he long remained one of the game’s most underrated leaders. The big right winger wasn’t a fast skater and he didn’t have a great shot; critics didn’t even think he’d crack the NHL. But he was a hard worker and in his 21 seasons in Toronto, he tallied 296 goals and 417 assists in 1,187 games.

Smythe called No. 10 “the best captain the Leafs have ever had.” Coach Punch Imlach thought so much of Armstrong’s leadership that when the Chief retired for a short time after the 1967 season, Imlach left the captain position open in case he came back (he did).

“Some people thought I was nuts to hold the job open, but I never thought so,” Imlach later wrote. “George Armstrong did more for the Maple Leafs than any other hockey player who played for me. He always felt that he had a responsibility to the game, that it gave him a lot and he was always trying to put some of it back.”

Armstrong wasn’t the type to give speeches. He led by example, the last guy off the ice after practice. When Jim McKenny joined the Leafs as a rookie, Armstrong taught him to work the corners and boards, told him to stay out of league politics, even tried to make sure he made curfew. He treated everyone with the same respect, from first-liners to players who rode the bench. And he used his off-ice antics to help his teammates keep loose before big games.

“He’d always come up with something at the spur of the moment,” Kelly said. “It was just like, boom, out of nowhere, he’d hit the target and he’d have us all laughing.”

Armstrong went on to coach the Ontario Hockey Association’s Toronto Marlboros for three seasons, leading them to a Memorial Cup championship in 1975, the same year he was enshrined in the Hall of Fame. He even reluctantly took over behind the bench for the Leafs during the 1988–89 season, a short stint before starting a job as a scout for the Toronto club.

The Chief was a private guy who didn’t do interviews or make many appearances, which McKenny said was a shame, since Armstrong was such a great personality.

“He always [took] it upon himself to entertain,” said McKenny, chuckling.

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George Armstrong, Maple Leafs legend and long-time captain, dead at 90 – Sportsnet.ca

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TORONTO — George Armstrong, who captained the Toronto Maple Leafs to four Stanley Cups in the ’60s and wore the blue and white his entire career, has died.

He was 90.

The Maple Leafs confirmed the death Sunday on Twitter.

Armstrong played a record 1,187 games with 296 goals and 417 assists over 21 seasons for the Leafs, including 13 seasons as team captain. The right-winger added another 26 goals and 34 assists in 110 playoff games.

Known as the Chief, Armstrong was one of the first players of Indigenous descent to play professional hockey.

Armstrong was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1975. Some 41 years later, Armstrong was voted No. 12 on the franchise’s list of 100 greatest Maple Leafs in its centennial season.

“George is part of the very fabric of the Toronto Maple Leaf organization and will be deeply missed,” Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan said in a statement. “A proud yet humble man, he loved being a Maple Leaf but never sought the spotlight even though no player played more games for Toronto or captained the team longer. Always one to celebrate his teammates rather than himself, George couldn’t even bring himself to deliver his speech the day he was immortalized on Legends Row.”

A young Armstrong met Syl Apps when the Maple Leafs star came to his bantam team’s annual banquet. Armstrong would go on to wear No. 10, the first Leaf to do so after the retirement of talismanic Cup-winning captain Apps.

Armstrong would also become one of a select number of Leafs honoured with a banner at Scotiabank Arena and his number was officially retired in October 2016 at the team’s centennial anniversary home opener.

In 2015, Armstrong and Apps were added to the Leafs’ Legends Row.

The Leafs released a statement on Sunday with the words from Armstrong’s unread speech that night.

“Hockey is a great game and I love it. I am part of a fading generation that you will never have again. Every one of us is one of a kind, that will never be repeated. To all of my friends and acquaintances, thank you for your advice and direction, that helped make me who I am today ? a very, very happy person.”

After hanging up his skates in 1971, Armstrong coached the Toronto Marlboros to Memorial Cup victories in 1972-73 and 1974-75 before accepting a scouting position with the Quebec Nordiques in 1978.

He spent nine years with Quebec before returning to the Toronto fold as assistant general manager and scout in 1988. Armstrong served as interim coach for the final 47 games of the 1988-89 season after John Brophy was fired after an 11-20-2 start.

The next year, Armstrong returned to his role as a scout for the Leafs.

Armstrong scored 20 goals four times during his career but was better known for his leadership and work ethic, helping restore the franchise’s winning touch. A smart player and talented backchecker, he worked the angles to get the best shot at his opponent and formed a formidable penalty-killing tandem with Dave Keon.

A humble man, Armstrong was quick to deflect praise. He credited his players for his Memorial Cup wins as coach.

“It wasn’t because I was a great coach, it was because I had some great players,” he said in a 1989 interview, listing off the likes of the Howe brothers, John Tonelli, Mark Napier and Mike Palmateer.

And he offered a typical response when inducted into the Leaside Sports Hall of Fame in 2015.

“I don’t know whether I deserve it or not but I sure am happy to get it,” said Armstrong, who lived in several areas of the city before making Leaside his Toronto home.

Born in Bowland’s Bay, Ont., to an Irish father and an Iroquois mother, a young Armstrong honed his hockey skills in Falconbridge near the Sudbury nickel mines where his father worked.

The Boston Bruins were interested but Armstrong waited until the Leafs put him on their protected list while he was playing with the Copper Cliff Jr. Redmen of the NOHA in 1946-47. After winning the Eddie Powers Memorial Trophy as the OHA’s leading scorer with Stratford next season, the Leafs sent him to their main junior affiliate, the Toronto Marlboros.

He was elevated to the senior Marlies for the 1949 Allan Cup playoffs and helped the team win the title over Calgary the next year.

It was during the Allan Cup tournament, specifically a visit to the Stoney Indian Reserve in Alberta, that he got his nickname. When the band heard of Armstrong’s ancestral background, they made him an honorary member with the name “Chief Shoot-the-Puck” and presented him with a ceremonial headdress.

It was a different era and “The Chief” nickname stuck. Armstrong, who was proud of his mother’s heritage, would become the first player of Indigenous descent to score in the NHL.

He spent most of two seasons in Pittsburgh with the Leafs’ American Hockey League farm team before making the big league. He made his NHL debut in December 1949 and became a full-time member of the Leafs in time for the start of the 1952-53 season.

“It looks as if he’s going to be here for quite a long time the way he handled that puck,” legendary broadcaster Foster Hewitt said after Armstrong scored his first NHL goal in a 3-2 win over Montreal.

Taking a pass from future Hall of Famer Max Bentley, Armstrong beat defenceman Butch Bouchard and beat goaltender Gerry McNeil.

“I did a little war dance that night and I think everybody in Maple Leaf Gardens was pretty happy about it as well,” Armstrong recalled 15 years later.

Toronto owner and GM Conn Smythe named Armstrong his captain before the 1957-58 season. Smythe would later call Armstrong “the best captain, as a captain, the Leafs have ever had.”

The Leafs won the Stanley Cup in 1962, the first of three straight championships.

Armstrong was 36 when the veteran Leafs won the franchise’s last championship in 1967. His insurance empty-net goal with 47 seconds remaining in the clinching 3-1 Game 6 win proved to be the final goal of the Original Six era.

The six-foot-one, 204-pounder played a few more seasons, but suffered a knee injury during the 1969-70 campaign that forced him to retire. Armstrong was convinced to come back for the 1970-71 season before quitting for good at age 40.

At the time, Armstrong had played more seasons and more games as a Maple Leaf than any other player, and was second in career points.

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After UFC 257 triumph, Dustin Poirier guarantees ‘I won’t be fighting Michael Chandler’ next – MMA Fighting

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The easiest matchup to make after UFC 257 appeared to be Dustin Poirier and Michael Chandler, after both emerged from Saturday’s pay-per-view event with impressive knockout victories.

But Poirier doesn’t believe they’re in the same category, and he’s not keen on fighting the former Bellator champ after stopping Conor McGregor in the pay-per-view headliner.

“I can guarantee I won’t be fighting Michael Chandler,” Poirier told reporters, including MMA Fighting, at the UFC 257 post-fight press conference. “They can do whatever they want with the division. I don’t really care. If something makes sense, then we’ll do it.”

UFC 257 was initially framed by UFC President Dana White as something of an audition for the top lightweights, with Poirier vs. McGregor and Chandler vs. Dan Hooker competing to impress current UFC lightweight champ Khabib Nurmagomedov.

Chandler certainly did his part, stopping Hooker in the first round with a ferocious display of striking. But with Nurmagomedov looking less and less likely to reverse a decision to retire from the sport, Poirier thinks he should be considered the champ.

Of course, Poirier doesn’t actually hold the belt. But he should be fighting for it very soon, and if the UFC is doing things the way he believes they should be done, he said, then the person standing across from him next will be someone who’s earned the opportunity.

“I’ve just been putting in work,” he said. “That’s why I’m sitting here feeling like I can talk about it, because I’ve been in the division and the UFC for a long time, fighting the best of the best of the best.

“No disrespect to [Chandler], he seems like a good husband, a good father, he speaks well, has a lot of respect, carries himself very well. It’s not a knock against him. It’s just my feelings toward the division and the sport. I lost to Khabib, I came out and put on a ‘Fight of the Year’ for you guys, got my hand raised against a top-five opponent after that. Then I come in there and Khabib doesn’t want to come back, then I knock out one of the biggest fights you can get. I knock this guy out, too.

“Khabib reiterates he doesn’t want to fight any more – dude, I’m the champ. I’m not going to fight, some – and like I said, respect to Chandler – a new guy to the UFC who just beat a guy that’s coming off a loss that I just beat for the belt. That’s not exciting to me.”

This past June, Poirier bested Hooker by decision to rebound after a loss to Nurmagomedov in a title-unifier. A candidate more appealing to him was Charles Oliveira, who’s won his past eight fights and most recently outpointed ex-interim champ Tony Ferguson in a commanding performance.

“I think he has more [of a case for the title shot],” Poirier said. “I’ve been watching that guy for 10 years in the UFC, two different weight classes. He’s fought the best of the best, over and over again. And, he’s been knocked down and gotten up, and he’s proven what MMA and perseverance is. I respect that. Not that I don’t respect Michael Chandler. I just think there’s more work for him to do than beat a guy I just beat.”

Oliveira was one of two names broached for the title shot, the other being Justin Gaethje, who, like Poirier, lost a bid to unify the belts. Before that, however, Gaethje was stopped by “The Diamond” in a brutal bout.

Asked whether Oliveira or Gaethje had a better claim to the title shot, Poirier chose the Brazilian.

“Just because he’s never had the opportunity,” Poirier said. “Gaethje just came out here and got beat, as I did. Not a knock on Gaethje, but he lost. I think Oliviera, probably, or let them fight to see who gets it.”

Poirier will ultimately see what the UFC has in store for him after getting some rest and relaxation. He put a huge feather in his cap by beating McGregor, the UFC’s biggest box office star and a former two-division champion. The next fight he takes has to be one he can justify as a veteran who’s earned his keep.

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