OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC —
Alexis Lafreniere scored seven seconds after the United States tied the game late in the third period as Canada beat its North American rival 6-4 on Thursday in the opener for both countries at the 2020 world junior hockey championship.
Barrett Hayton, with two, Connor McMichael, Nolan Foote and Ty Dellandrea, into an empty net, also scored for the Canadians, who got 28 saves from Nico Daws.
Lafreniere, the projected No. 1 pick at the 2020 NHL draft, added three assists.
“He’s an amazing player,” McMichael said about Lafreniere. “The way he carried the team today and did the things he did was incredible. We’re obviously happy to have him.”
After Shane Pinto buried his second of the night for the U.S. with 3:18 left in regulation on the Americans’ third power-play goal of the night, the 18-year-old Lafreniere scored on a slick move to put his team back in front.
Lafreniere knocked a down a backhand saucer pass through the slot by American defenceman K’Andre Miller, then got in alone on Spencer Knight before deking forehand and sliding the puck just past the right pad of the sprawled-out netminder.
“I got lucky to knock it down. I just tried to get it to the net. I was lucky enough to put it in,” said Lafreniere.
The U.S. pressed late with the extra attacker, but Dellandrea sealed it into an empty net with 70 seconds left on the clock.
Nick Robertson, with a goal and an assist, and Arthur Kaliyev also scored for the Americans, who got 26 saves from Knight.
The Americans saw their streak of 12 straight victories to open the under-20 event snapped.
The countries usually face off later in the tournament when placed in the same group — often on New Year’s Eve — but instead met on Boxing Day.
In Group B’s early game, hosts Czech Republic upset Russia 4-3 inside a raucous Ostravar Arena.
Next up for Canada is Saturday’s tilt with the Russians, while the U.S. goes right back at it Friday versus Germany.
Down 2-0 after the first period where they didn’t generate much of anything offensively, the Canadians came out flying in the second with three goals in just over 10 minutes.
McMichael, the Ontario Hockey League’s scoring leader before joining the national team, got things started at 3:31 when he took a feed from Akil Thomas off the rush and beat Knight.
Hayton, who was loaned to Canada for the tournament by the Arizona Coyotes and was named captain on Wednesday, tied it on a power play at 6:34 when he took a pass from Lafreniere at the top of the face-off circle and wired a one-timer shortside just seven seconds after Pinto went off for holding.
Foote, whose father Adam won two Stanley Cups with the Colorado Avalanche and also captured gold at the 2002 Winter Olympics, then gave Canada its first lead at 13:03 on another man advantage when he beat Knight upstairs.
“We just tried to keep it simple and get pucks to the net,” said Lafreniere. “I think that worked out pretty good. Our power play was good. We’ve got to keep working, keep getting better.”
Pinto appeared to score the Americans’ third power-play goal in three chances late in the period, but time expired before the puck entered the net in front of 8,693 fans.
Daws, who was making his international debut for Canada at any level, made a couple big stops in the third period to keep his team ahead before Hayton beat Knight on another power play off a feed from Lafreniere at 10:47.
But Robertson, a Toronto Maple Leafs prospect, got the Americans back within a goal at 4-3 on a wicked shot with 7:45 left in regulation before Pinto tied it with the Americans’ third power-play goal of the game.
“That was really fun,” said McMichael. “You can tell we had a lot of nerves in the first period, but we got back to our game in the second and third.”
Canada, which according to the website eliteprospects.com is icing its youngest-ever roster at the world juniors with an average age of 18.6 years, found itself down 2-0 after 20 minutes.
Pinto, a 2018 first-round pick of the Ottawa Senators, opened the scoring on a deflection at 3:10 with Hayton in the box.
The goal came as Canadian fans at Ostravar Arena were in the process of passing a giant flag across the lower bowl.
Canada couldn’t connect on a man advantage of its own, but started to get going midway through the period with an energetic shift capped by hulking six-foot-six defenceman Kevin Bahl using a 10-inch height advantage to lower the boom on Bobby Brink.
The Canadians didn’t really threaten Knight’s goal, and the Americans doubled their lead with 1:28 left in the first on another power play when Trevor Zegras drew the puck through his legs after Bahl fell at the blue line before finding Kaliyev.
The U.S. came in having won four straight and six of its last 11 against Canada at the world juniors after picking up just two victories — albeit in the 2004 and 2010 gold-medal games — in the countries’ 10 previous meetings dating back to the 2000 tournament.
While none of the players on the ice Thursday had ever suited up against one another on this stage, there’s plenty of familiarity at lower age groups, including at the under-18 worlds and the annual Hlinka Gretzky Cup summer showcase.
One of the players with zero familiarity is the undrafted Daws, who came out of nowhere with a banner start to the OHL season to grab the starting job despite having never played for Canada before this month.
The Canadians, who have won the world juniors 17 times since the event’s official inception in 1977, finished a disappointing sixth at last year’s tournament in Vancouver and Victoria, B.C., following a stunning overtime loss to Finland in the quarterfinals.
On the other side, the Americans headed to the Czech Republic having won a program-record four straight medals, including last year’s second-place finish after losing to the Finns in the final.
Canada won the tournament in both 2015 and 2018 in North America, but hasn’t topped the podium in Europe since the last time the Czech Republic hosted in 2008.
This report was first published by The Canadian Press on Dec. 26, 2019
Golf-Olympic gold medallist Schauffele pumped for Zozo Championship in Japan
AmericanXander Schauffele returns this week for the Zozo Championship in Japan nearly two and half months after winning the gold medal at the Tokyo Games and the 27-year-old said he is looking to grab a “special” victory at the PGA Tour event.
The tournament returns to Japan at the Accordia Golf Narashino Country Club on Thursday after last year’s edition was moved to California due to COVID-19 restrictions.
The $9.95 million event will feature Asia’s first Masters champion Hideki Matsuyama, two-time major winner Collin Morikawa and Schauffele, who won gold for the United States at the Tokyo Olympics in August with a one-stroke victory.
Schauffele, whose grandparents reside in Japan, said winning at the Zozo Championship would be a huge honour for his family.
“I’m very excited,” Schauffele, who also won the Ryder Cup with the United States last month, said on Wednesday.
“Winning here would be really cool. It would be really special to sort of win twice in Japan, especially since I don’t live here.
“I think it would be a huge honour for my family if I was able to do that and I’m going to do my best this week.”
American Morikawa, whose father is of Japanese descent, said he is looking forward to playing in front of an energetic crowd with 5,000 spectators allowed each day.
“These are some of the best fans,” Morikawa said. “I remember my first tee shot out here two years ago when there were fans on stools and lined up five, six people deep.
“They would cheer for you walking to tee boxes, hitting every tee shot whether it’s good or bad.
“They bring so much energy. I’ve said it since we returned from COVID, it’s just really good to see people out here again.”
(Reporting by Manasi Pathak in Bengaluru; editing by Kim Coghill)
NHL suspends Evander Kane for 21 games over COVID-19 vaccination status – Global News
The league on Monday announced the suspension without pay and said Kane will not be eligible to play until Nov. 30 at New Jersey. Kane will forfeit about US$1.68 million of his US$7 million salary for this season with the money going to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
The league also announced that a concurrent investigation into allegations of sexual and physical abuse made against Kane by his estranged wife, Anna, could not be substantiated.
“I would like to apologize to my teammates, the San Jose Sharks organization, and all Sharks fans for violating the NHL COVID protocols,” Kane said in a statement. “I made a mistake, one I sincerely regret and take responsibility for. During my suspension, I will continue to participate in counseling to help me make better decisions in the future. When my suspension is over, I plan to return to the ice with great effort, determination, and love for the game of hockey.”
The Sharks have not said what Kane’s status will be after the investigations. Kane had not been around the team since the start of training camp while these investigations were ongoing in an agreement between him and the team.
“While we are encouraged by Evander’s commitment to moving forward, we are extremely disappointed by his disregard for the health and safety protocols put in place by the NHL and the NHLPA,” the team said in a statement. “We will not be commenting further on Evander’s status prior to the conclusion of the NHL’s mandated suspension.”
Kane had previously been cleared by the NHL in an investigation into allegations made by Anna Kane that he bet on hockey games, including some against the Sharks.
Edmonton Oilers fans enter Rogers Place for 1st time amid new COVID-19 protocols
But the league did determine that Kane violated the COVID-19 protocols. A person familiar with the investigation said earlier this month that the league was looking into allegations that Kane submitted a fake vaccination card. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details weren’t made public.
Using a fake vaccination card is illegal in both the United States and Canada, as well as against NHL rules.
Commissioner Gary Bettman said last week that only four players on active rosters hadn’t been vaccinated.
Kane, 30, is three seasons into a $49 million, seven-year contract. He’s with his third organization after being drafted by and debuting with Atlanta/Winnipeg and a stint in Buffalo.
Last season, he had 22 goals and 27 assists in 56 games.
© 2021 The Canadian Press
2021–22 NBA Season Predictions: MVP, championship picks and more – Sportsnet.ca
The 2021-22 NBA season gets going Tuesday night.
Returning to a regular 82-game schedule after last season’s 72-game affair, and many teams who appear poised and ready to chase after a ring, this could be one of the most wide-open seasons in recent memory.
There are, of course, the true powerhouses and bottom-feeders in the league. But heading into this new season, it looks like there could be more teams than usual who make the leap up into true contender status.
In an attempt to make sense of what could come, Sportsnet polled some of its basketball experts to try to predict some of the major award winners and who will win it all.
Sixth Man of the Year
Donnovan Bennett, staff writer and digital host: Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors
Michael Grange, senior basketball insider: Patty Mills, Brooklyn Nets
William Lou, Raptors Show host on Sportsnet 590 The FAN: Alex Caruso, Chicago Bulls
Steven Loung, NBA section editor: Patty Mills, Brooklyn Nets
Blake Murphy, co-host of the FAN Morning Show on Sportsnet 590 The FAN: Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
Eric Smith, Raptors play-by-play announcer on Sportsnet 590 The FAN: Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
Coach of the Year
Bennett: Ime Udoka, Boston Celtics
Grange: Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat
Lou: Nick Nurse, Toronto Raptors
Loung: Steve Nash, Brooklyn Nets
Murphy: Steve Nash, Brooklyn Nets
Smith: Steve Nash, Brooklyn Nets
Most Improved Player
Bennett: Chris Boucher, Toronto Raptors
Grange: OG Anunoby, Toronto Raptors
Lou: Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets
Loung: Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets
Murphy: Jaren Jackson Jr., Memphis Grizzlies
Smith: Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets
Defensive Player of the Year
Bennett: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
Grange: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Lou: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Loung: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
Murphy: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
Smith: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
Rookie of the Year
Bennett: Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic
Grange: Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
Lou: Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
Loung: Jalen Green, Houston Rockets
Murphy: Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
Smith: Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
Bennett: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
Grange: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
Lou: Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
Loung: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
Murphy: Steph Curry, Golden State Warriors
Smith: Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
Biggest sleeper team
Bennett: Chicago Bulls
Grange: Golden State Warriors
Lou: Toronto Raptors
Loung: Golden State Warriors
Murphy: Cleveland Cavaliers
Smith: Golden State Warriors
Bennett: Brooklyn Nets vs. Golden State Warriors
Grange: Milwaukee Bucks vs. Golden State Warriors
Lou: Brooklyn Nets vs. Los Angeles Lakers
Loung: Brooklyn Nets vs. Golden State Warriors
Murphy: Brooklyn Nets vs. Denver Nuggets
Bennett: Golden State Warriors
Grange: Milwaukee Bucks
Lou: Brooklyn Nets
Loung: Brooklyn Nets
Murphy: Brooklyn Nets
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