OSTRAVA, CZECH REPUBLIC —
Canada eased into last year’s world junior hockey championship.
The host country led its opener against Denmark 3-0 after the first period, 8-0 through two and pumped home six more over the final 20 minutes of a 14-0 romp.
The 2020 curtain-raiser versus a familiar foe should provide a little more drama.
Canada kicks off the under-20 event’s latest instalment Thursday against the United States in a game loaded with skill, speed, familiarity, and perhaps biggest of all, intensity.
“Heated,” Canadian defenceman Jacob Bernard-Docker, a first-round pick of the Ottawa Senators, said of the rivalry. “Two countries that don’t like each other playing against each other.”
Named as Canada’s captain just prior hitting the ice for Wednesday’s practice at Ostrava Arena, Barrett Hayton said watching their predecessors go to battle was part of growing up.
“That’s what you think about when you think of international competition,” said Hayton, who played 14 times with the Arizona Coyotes this season before being loaned to the Canadian setup for the world juniors. “It’ll definitely be an intense game.”
The feeling on the other side is, of course, mutual.
“That rivalry’s one like no other,” said diminutive U.S. sniper Cole Caufield, a Montreal Canadiens’ first-rounder. “It’s country versus country. It’s not just a team versus a team. It’s going to be so special to be a part of it.”
“Neither team likes each other,” added American captain Mattias Samuelsson, a Buffalo Sabres’ prospect and the son of former NHL defenceman Kjell Samuelsson. “It’ll be a good game to start.”
Viewed as the front-runners at the 10-team tournament, Canada and the U.S. sit in a difficult Group B with always-dangerous Russia, the host Czechs and a German program that continues to improve.
Group A, which is being contested in nearby Trinec, includes Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Slovakia and Kazakhstan.
While in years past there would be build-up ahead of the Canada-U.S. showdown — often on New Year’s Eve — this matchup comes a lot sooner and will give one team a huge edge early.
“You’ve got a big test right away,” said Ty Dellandrea, a Dallas Stars’ first-rounder named as one of Canada’s alternate captains along with fellow centre Joe Veleno and defenceman Ty Smith. “It’ll be good for us to bring our game to the highest level right off the start.”
The Americans beat their northern neighbours 2-1 outdoors in a shootout in round-robin play in Orchard Park, N.Y., at the 2018 event in their last meeting at the world juniors — Canada’s only blemish on the way to winning its 17th gold medal at the teenage showcase.
Other recent results saw the U.S. down Canada 5-4 in a shootout to capture the 2017 final in Montreal after also winning 3-1 in Toronto on New Year’s Eve.
“There’s no putting your foot into the water — you’ve got to go full in,” said U.S. centre Shane Pinto, another Ottawa first-round pick. “It’s going to be a tough one, but I think we’re ready.”
One of five returning players from last year’s stunning sixth-place finish in Vancouver and Victoria, Hayton said wearing the ‘C’ for Canada will be special.
“I was just incredibly honoured,” said the 19-year-old centre. “You idolize the guys who play here.”
Canadian head coach Dale Hunter said Hayton’s professional experience played a factor in the decision.
“He’s a leader,” said Hunter, himself a former NHL captain. “On and off the ice he’s a character kid.”
The coach remained coy about Thursday’s starting goalie, but Nico Daws, a netminder with zero international experience prior to this month, is the odds-on favourite to get the nod.
The undrafted netminder was never realistically on Hockey Canada’s radar before a standout start to the season that has him leading the Ontario Hockey League with a 2.06 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage for the Guelph Storm.
“It’s been crazy,” the 19-year-old said of his last four months. “I still haven’t really taken it all in yet. It’s one of those things … I don’t know if I’ll be able to appreciate it as much as I should until I look back.”
Daws tried to pour cold water on talk of his lack experience on this or any similar stage, but the fact remains along with Joel Hofer, the equally untested presumptive No. 2, Canada’s crease remains a massive question mark.
“It’s a big setting. Very intimidating, I guess you could say,” Daws said. “But I’m just there to stop pucks.”
Hayton, Veleno, Smith, star winger Alexis Lafreniere and blue-liner Jared McIsaac were all part of the Canadian team that went home bitterly disappointed from last year’s tournament after falling to Finland in the quarterfinals — a feeling they want no part of here in the Czech Republic.
“I don’t think there are any words needed,” said Hayton, whose team faces Russia in another headline-grabber Friday. “We all have that fire inside of us.”
The Americans, meanwhile, are equally motivated after losing the 2019 gold medal to the Finns with less than 90 seconds to play in regulation.
“Last year was a heartbreaker,” said Samuelsson, one of five returnees. “That feeling that you had, you don’t want it again.”
Both the U.S. and Canada are sick of practising and playing exhibition games.
It’s time for one to pen the rivalry’s latest chapter.
“This is what you drive for,” Hunter said. “They’re a good team, we’re a good team. That’s what’s going to make it a heck of a hockey game.
“You want that adrenaline. You want to be in the action. That’s what it’s all about.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 25, 2019
The Best Canadian Players Ever To Play In The NFL
When people talk about the best players in the history of the NFL, they usually talk about American players. Well, when we consider that most of the legends were from this country, this should not come as a surprise. The case is the same today. Just take a look at thegameday.com and you will see who the most popular individual players are and the top betting picks for football enthusiasts.
However, looking further north, we can see that there are many splendid Canadian players who graced the NFL with their talent.
Let’s take a look at the best ones who played in the league.
This ridiculously talented American-Canadian football player had a successful career in the league. He played as a wide receiver for various teams throughout his career, including the Minnesota Vikings, Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, and Cleveland Browns. Burleson was drafted by the Minnesota Vikings in the third round of the 2003 NFL Draft.
He quickly made a difference on the field, showcasing his speed, agility, and reliable hands. During his time with the Vikings, he became known for his ability to make acrobatic catches and his versatility as a receiver. In 2006, Burleson signed with the Seattle Seahawks, where he continued to excel. He played a key role in the team’s success, helping them reach the Super Bowl in the 2005 season. However, injuries limited his playing time during his tenure with the Seahawks.
In 2010, this wonderful man joined the Detroit Lions, where he had some of the best years of his career. He formed a dynamic receiving duo with Calvin Johnson, and together they became one of the most formidable wide receiver tandems in the league. Burleson’s leadership and veteran presence were also highly valued by his teammates. After his time with the Lions, Burleson signed with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.
This football diety wrote a delightful piece of the NFL history and he made the whole of Canada proud. He played as a fullback and defensive tackle for the Chicago Bears in the 1930s and early 1940s. Nagurski was known for his incredible strength and power on the field, earning him a reputation as one of the toughest players of his time.
During his splendid career, Nagurski helped lead the Bears to multiple championships, including the NFL Championship in 1932, 1933, and 1940. He was a dominant force on both offense and defense, known for his ability to break tackles and his hard-hitting style of play. Nagurski’s physicality and versatility made him a standout player in an era when two-way players were common.
He was later shown the heavenly doors of the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1963. This of course, only made his legacy a legit one in this neck of the woods. What do his colleagues have to say about him? Well, most of them remember him being one of the toughest dudes to roam the green fields.
This absolute legend became famous for playing as a placekicker for the Indianapolis Colts from 1998 to 2005 and later for the Dallas Cowboys in 2006. Vanderjagt was known for his accuracy as a kicker and he has the NFL record for the most consecutive field goals made with 42. He was also the first kicker in NFL history to have a perfect season, making all of his field goal and extra point attempts in 2003.
Vanderjagt was selected to the Pro Bowl twice in his career and was a key contributor to the Colts’ success during his time with the team. Imagine having those tales to tell the kiddies on your lap when you get old.
Jimmy Butler steals the show on NBA media day with ‘emo’ phase look following Damian Lillard’s trade to the Milwaukee Bucks
Whether or not Miami Heat’s golden child Jimmy Butler’s new “emo” look is just a phase, the NBA star carried it off with some aplomb, drawing plenty of laughs from his teammates.
One year on from his memorable fake dreadlocks look, the 34-year-old outdid himself by turning up at the Heat’s media day on Monday sporting a straightened fringe, piercings in his eyebrow and lips and painted black nails.
Butler said he’s now “emo” and after the summer he and the Heat have had, who can blame him?
After former Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard and his agent publicly stated on numerous occasions that he would only want to play for Miami, it seemed like a matter of when, not if, the 33-year-old would end up in South Beach.
Butler led the Heat to an improbable NBA Finals appearance as the eight seed last season, so it’s easy to imagine his excitement at the prospect of Lillard’s addition to the roster pushing the team over the top and to its first title in the post-Lebron James era.
However, the Milwaukee Bucks swooped in last week with a package that blew Miami’s out of the water, meaning Lillard will now be plying his trade in Wisconsin and not Florida.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, laugh it up,” Butler said as he entered his press conference, pushing his fringe out of his eyes. “I’m emo. This is my emotional state, I’m at one with my emotions so this is what you get.”
Despite failing to acquire Lillard and losing key contributors Gabe Vincent and Max Strus, Butler remains confident ahead of the upcoming season, telling reporters the Heat are going to win it all.
If it’s good news that he’s now at one with his emotions, Butler might just also be a gifted method actor and isn’t actually going through a belated “emo” phase. The six-time All Star could be heard saying “don’t make me break character” as he entered the press conference.
His new character was certainly a hit with his teammates and had Bam Adebayo crying tears of laughter as the pair were having their photos taken for the new season – which means, yes, Butler will have this hair in official photos for the entire year.
Certainly not someone to do things by halves, Butler was fully immersed in his new state and even posted songs from emo bands on his Instagram story throughout the day.
Finding Your Perfect Match: The Best Ways to Choose an Online Sportsbook
In the ever-expanding world of online sports betting, selecting the right sportsbook is crucial. This is to ensure an enjoyable and secure gambling experience. With numerous options available, it can be challenging to find the perfect fit. For instance, you can be looking into sites like BestOdds to find a sportsbook to go with but do not know what exactly to check.
This article will explain the basics of finding an excellent online sportsbook.
Licensing and Regulation
The first and most critical factor when choosing an online sportsbook is ensuring it operates in a legal and transparent manner. A reputable sportsbook should possess a valid license from a recognized regulatory authority. These licenses indicate that the sportsbook adheres to strict standards, including fair play, responsible gambling and financial security.
Before registering, check for the sportsbook’s licensing information. In most cases, you will find this in the footer of their website. Some of the most reputable regulatory bodies for online sports betting include the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC), the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) and the Isle of Man Gambling Supervision Commission.
Additionally, research the sportsbook’s track record for regulatory compliance and any previous non-payment or unethical practices incidents. User reviews and industry news sources can provide valuable insights into the sportsbook’s reputation.
Odds and Betting Markets
The quality of odds and the variety of betting markets offered are key factors in determining the suitability of an online sportsbook. Competitive odds provide better potential returns for your bets, while a wide range of markets allows you to explore different betting options.
Compare odds from multiple sportsbooks to ensure you get the best bet value. Some websites and apps even offer odds comparison tools to make this process more convenient.
Moreover, consider the breadth of sports and events covered by the sportsbook. Whether you’re into mainstream sports like football, basketball, or soccer or niche sports and events, the sportsbook should offer diverse markets to cater to your preferences.
Security and Payment Options
Security is paramount when sharing personal and financial information with an online sportsbook. Look for sportsbooks that employ the latest encryption technologies, such as SSL (Secure Socket Layer), to safeguard your data. Consider factors like two-factor authentication (2FA) to enhance account security further.
Payment options are another critical aspect. Ensure the sportsbook offers convenient and secure methods for depositing and withdrawing funds. Common payment methods include credit/debit cards, bank transfers, e-wallets (like PayPal or Skrill) and cryptocurrencies (like Bitcoin). Choosing a sportsbook that supports your preferred payment method is essential to streamline your betting experience.
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