Canada began shedding game rust with a 16-2 win over beleaguered Germany at the world junior men’s hockey championship Saturday.
Dylan Cozens of Whitehorse had a hat trick and three assists for the host country against an opponent ravaged by the COVID-19 virus.
Dawson Mercer, Philip Tomasino, Alex Newhook and Peyton Krebs each scored twice for Canada.
Kaiden Guhle, Ryan Suzuki, Jakob Pelletier, Thomas Harley and Connor McMichael also scored for the defending champions.
John Peterka and Florian Elias countered for the Germans in Rogers Place devoid of spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nine German players were isolating in hotel rooms Saturday because of positive tests for the virus upon arrival in Edmonton.
Germany played 14 skaters — nine forwards and five defencemen — for a second game in as many days after falling 5-3 to Finland on Christmas Day.
The Germans couldn’t run anything resembling a real practice until the day before their first game.
Canada exploited Germany’s defensive and goaltending mistakes borne of mental and physical fatigue.
“We weren’t too focused on the score,” Cozens said. “We were just focused on playing the right way.
“It’s our first game of the tournament. We’ve got to establish our good habits
“It’s a tough spot they’re in. They’re down a lot of numbers and just coming out of quarantine. It does suck for them for sure.”
Canada’s 16 goals in a single game was two off the record of 18 set in both 1985 and 1986.
Canada faces Slovakia (1-0) in Pool A on Sunday.
Jonas Gahr replaced German starter Arno Tiefensee after one period and allowed 12 goals on 33 shots.
Tiefensee gave up four goals on 11 shots following a 45-save outing versus Finland the previous day.
Canada’s Devon Levi stopped eight of nine shots over two periods for the win. Dylan Garand played the third turning away five of six.
Canada’s Braden Schneider was ejected before the game was nine minutes old.
The defenceman’s shoulder check caught Jan-Luca Schumacher’s head for a major penalty and game misconduct.
Sweden opened Pool B with a 7-1 thumping of Austria on Saturday.
The top four teams in each pool advance to the Jan. 2 quarterfinals, followed by semifinals Jan. 4 and the medal games Jan. 5.
Canada’s tournament prep was interrupted by a 14-day quarantine midway through selection camp because a pair of players tested positive for COVID-19.
Before Saturday’s opener, the majority of the Canadian players hadn’t played a meaningful game in months because of the pandemic.
Up 4-1 by the end of the first period, it became clear the game would serve as a rust-shedder for Canada and an ordeal for the Germans.
Canada’s goal celebrations became more muted as the score became lopsided, but head coach Andre Tourigny said his team couldn’t afford to step off the gas.
“We’re not a team who played 15 games together or 30 games before the camp,” Tourigny said.
“Most of those guys have four intrasquad games and one pre-competition and one competition game. We need to get better every day.
“It could have been two hundred to one. It’s not about that. It was about us playing and preparing our team and our play to move forward in the tournament.”
“We have no time to waste.”
Canada overwhelmed the tiring Germans scoring seven times on Gahr in the second period.
“This happens when you are not mentally and physically ready and able to play on this kind of level with this intensity and speed,” German head coach Tobias Abstreiter said.
“We had no tools, no battle-level, nothing to compete against Canada’s strong game. We gave up in a way and this is what I cannot accept.”
German captain and Ottawa Senators draft pick Tim Stuetzle had the energy, however, to check Bowen Byram over the boards and into the Canadian team bench in the second period.
The Germans argued Canada’s fourth goal in the dying seconds of the opening period was scored after the buzzer, but officials ruled it a power-play goal for Krebs at 19:59.
Gahr and Tiefensee both misplaying the puck behind their net led to a pair of Canadian goals, including Mercer’s wraparound short-hander in the first period.
McMichael also scored a short-handed goal in the third period.
Barring more positive tests, three Germans are eligible to leave quarantine Sunday followed by another five on Tuesday. One player is in isolation until the day before the tournament ends Jan. 5.
Canadian captain Kirby Dach is out of the tournament with a wrist injury sustained in a pre-tournament game against Russia.
Tourigny will alternate the captaincy between Byram and Cozens with McMichael a full-time alternate. Byram wore the C on Saturday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 26, 2020.
Conor McGregor’s leg ‘completely dead’, ‘like an American football’ after Dustin Poirier’s kicks at UFC 257 – MMA Fighting
Like many fighters whose calves get kicked, Conor McGregor didn’t realize the damage done until it was too late.
Speaking to reporters after his loss to Dustin Poirier in the headliner of UFC 257 on Saturday, McGregor struggled to process the reversal of fortune that turned a solid performance in the first round into a stoppage via second-round TKO.
“It’s heartbreaking,” McGregor said after stepping up to the podium at Etihad Arena in Abu Dhabi, which hosted the pay-per-view event. “It’s hard to take. The highest highs and the lowest lows in this game.”
Part of McGregor’s reconciliation was accepting how much of a part Poirier’s low leg kicks played in setting up the flurry of punches that handed him the first TKO loss of his professional MMA career.
The former two-division champ and box-office star showed up to the press conference on crutches.
“My leg is completely dead, and even though I felt like I was checking them, it was just sinking into the muscle in the front of the leg, and it was badly compromised, he said. “It’s like an American football in my shoe at the minute. It is what it is. Dustin fought a hell of a fight.”
Poirier was the victim of McGregor’s punches the first time they met in 2014 in a featherweight bout. The loss was the catalyst for Poirier to move up to the lightweight division, where he went on a tear that led to the interim title.
As for the path McGregor will walk, he said he’ll make the necessary adjustments and soldier on. There’s no doubt that part of his work will be to minimize the potential affect of low kicks. Up until the second round, McGregor felt he was trending in the right direction despite giving up a takedown.
“I thought I done well,” he said. “I got up, turned him. I felt alright with him in the clinch, I felt like I was better than him in the clinch. But too little, too late. The leg was compromised, and I didn’t adjust. Fair play to Dustin.”
McGregor is not the first fighter to suffer debilitating effects as the result of calf kicks. The strike affects the peroneal nerve that provides movement and sensation to the leg. Damage to the nerve can cause foot drop, rendering a fighter unable to lift or plant the foot. While it didn’t appear that the ex-champ was hobbled in such a way, he said the situation only got worse as Poirier continued to land the strike.
“I was going to tough her out,” he said. “I toughed it out as much as I could. It was an unusual one. I felt like I lifted my leg up multiple times, but it just sunk into to the muscle at the front, and it was badly compromised. And then Dustin had good, solid defense, as well. So when I was pressing forward with the shots, he was defending well. He fought a hell of a fight, and I’m happy for him.”
McGregor made no excuses for being unable to perform. The setback was instead something to reflect on, and he was still in that process as reporters asked him about what happened. The best answer he could arrive at was that he had simply been outclassed, and he would return to make things right.
“It was a phenomenal performance from Dustin,” he said. “I don’t know what to say. I’m going to go back, chill out, watch the full fight and get a better grasp on it. But the leg was compromised, and I was rushing the shots a little bit. And I didn’t adjust. It’s a bitter pill to swallow. I don’t even know whether I’m that upset. I don’t know what to say.”
Why George Armstrong was the best captain the Maple Leafs ever had – Sportsnet.ca
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.
George Armstrong, Maple Leafs legend and long-time captain, dead at 90 – Sportsnet.ca
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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