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Canada tops Slovakia to improve to 2-0 at world juniors – CBC.ca

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Jordan Spence scored what turned out to be an important goal for Canada in his first shift of the world junior hockey championship.

A day after Canada romped 16-2 over short-staffed Germany to start the tournament, goals were much harder to come by in a 3-1 win over Slovakia on Sunday.

Spence was a healthy scratch in Canada’s opener. The defenceman was informed Sunday afternoon he would draw into the lineup for suspended teammate Braden Schneider.

Spence scored the host country’s only goal in the first 36 minutes of the game.

WATCH | Canada earns preliminary-round win over Slovakia: 

Canada beats Slovakia 3-1 to stay perfect at the World Junior Hockey Championship. 0:29

“It was great for me to score, but it’s good that it created for momentum for our team, which it did,” Spence said.

Philip Tomasino had a goal and an assist and Jack Quinn scored an empty-netter for Canada. Devon Levi made 17 saves for the win on his 19th birthday.

“I didn’t go on my phone much. I was focused on the game,” Levi said. “I can answer my birthday messages later, but the task at hand was to win the game.”

Martin Romiak scored for Slovakia (1-1). Goaltender Samuel Hlavaj of the QMJHL’s Sherbrooke Phoenix stopped 20 shots in the loss.

The closest Slovakia has come to beating Canada in the world junior tournament was a 0-0 tie in Brandon, Man., in 1999.

“We lost the game tonight, but I thought we played well,” Slovak coach Robert Petrovicky said. “We played hard.”

Canada has Monday off before facing Switzerland (0-2) in Pool A on Tuesday. Finland (2-0) beat the Swiss 4-1 earlier Sunday.

WATCH | Finland downs Switzerland to stay unbeaten:

Finland scored 3 times on the power-play as they defeated Switzerland 4-1 and improved to 2-0 at the World Junior Hockey Championship. 0:29

The top four teams in each pool advance to quarterfinals Jan. 2, followed by semifinals Jan. 4 and the medal games Jan. 5.

Slovakia was a much tougher test for Canadians scorers than depleted Germany.

“They had nothing to do with our d-zone. They just made shots from the blue-line and our guys blocked every shot,” said Hlavaj, who is playing in his third world junior tournament.

The Canadians dominated puck possession and allowed Slovak puck carriers few clean entries into their zone.

Canada’s attack lacked cohesion for much of the game, however, while Slovakia clogged up scoring lanes.

“Obviously we did want to create a little bit more offence, but we reminded our players they did a lot of good stuff and we’re proud of them,” Canadian head coach Andre Tourigny said.

Romiak’s power-play goal at 18:36 of the third period pulled the Slovaks within a goal, but Quinn sealed the victory with an empty-netter.

Tomasino took a long pass from Dylan Cozens and beat Hlavaj with a high shot at 16:25 for a 2-0 lead.

Canada’s Schneider serves suspension

Schneider served a one-game suspension Sunday for checking German forward Jan-Luca Schumacher in the head the previous day.

Slovakia killed off a pair of Canadian power-play chances and Canada in turned kill off one Slovak man-advantage in the second period.

Defenceman Bowen Byram levelled Slovak forward Jakub Kolenic on Canada’s blue-line midway through the period.

Spence scored Canada’s lone goal of the opening period at 4:08.

The Australian-born defenceman from Cornwall, P.E.I., snared a Dawson Mercer rebound and beat Hlavaj with a wrist shot from the hash marks.

“It was unfortunate for Schneider to get suspended, but this morning, I was in the morning skate and I was just wanted to get my mind into it if I was playing,” Spence said.

“There were a lot of emotions going on just being scratched from last game and coming back the next day and playing and scoring. It’s amazing.”

Tournament notes

Canadian winger Dylan Holloway didn’t dress for Sunday’s game because of an upper-body injury.

Captain Kirby Dach isn’t playing in the tournament because of a wrist injury sustained in a pre-tournament game.

Cozens, who had a hat trick and six points against Germany, wore the captain’s C on Sunday. He’s alternating the captaincy with Byram.

The International Ice Hockey Federation announced Sunday there were no new positive tests for the COVID-19 virus among the teams and tournament personnel.

Three German players were released from quarantine Sunday to rejoin a team that iced just 14 skaters in its first two games.

Barring further positive tests, five more Germans will be released from isolation Tuesday with one player remaining in quarantine until Jan. 4.

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Sinclair to lead Canadian women’s team in her fourth Olympics

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Christine Sinclair, the all-time international goal-scoring record holder, was named to her fourth Olympic squad on Wednesday and will headline a Canadian roster at the Tokyo Games that features a mix of veterans and youth.

Led by Sinclair, whose 186 goals for her country are the most by a female or male soccer player worldwide, Canada won medals at both the 2012 and 2016 Olympics and was the only nation to make the podium in both competitions.

“I am looking forward to doing whatever I can to help take this team back to the podium and make history again,” said Canadian captain Sinclair. “Our team is in a good spot, we are excited, we are hungry and we are ready to go.”

The 18-player roster features 12 members of the squad that competed at the 2016 Rio Games while a quintet including Vanessa Gilles, Jayde Riviere, Julia Grosso, Adriana Leon, and Evelyne Viens will be making their Olympic debuts.

Goalkeeper Kailen Sheridan travelled to Rio in 2016 as an alternate.

Canada will kick off their Tokyo 2020 journey when they face Japan on July 21 and continue Group E play against Chile on July 24 and Britain on July 27.

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond)

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Which of the Canadians Picked in the 2021 NFL Draft Will Thrive This Season?

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It was a good NFL Draft for Canadian players in 2021.

Some four stars from north of the border were selected by NFL franchises in the free agency pick ‘em, and that is tied as the highest number of Canadians drafted in the 85-year history of the event.

Of course, the hope is that these young talents are more than just filler and roster depth, but can any of the quartet make the breakthrough into the big time?

Here’s a look at which of the NFL’s newest Canadian additions can shine in 2021/22.

Jevon Holland

The defensive back was the number 36 pick in the Draft by the Miami Dolphins, who beat off a number of rivals in the hunt for the Coquitlam native.

A versatile defender, Holland is a former Jim Thorpe Award semi-finalist thanks to his exploits in the NCAA back in 2019 with the University of Oregon.

He sat out the 2020 campaign, but representatives from dozens of NFL teams were in town to watch Holland go through his paces at the Oregon Pro Day.

The 21-year-old is following in the footsteps of his father Robert, who turned out for the Detroit Lions, and he is expected to force his way into the starting line-up at the Dolphins. And, who knows, maybe Holland could go all the way in his first season, with Miami priced at +2500 in the Super Bowl 2022 American football odds.

Benjamin St-Juste

When you’re six foot three, 205 pounds and still able to run 40 yards in 4.51 seconds, it goes without saying that you have the physical credentials to succeed in the NFL.

Benjamin St-Juste is the man that can, and he will bolster the roster at a Washington Football Team that will be looking to improve upon their playoff showing in 2020.

The 23-year-old may only have been a third-round pick, but he comes with a burgeoning reputation thanks to a successful time at the University of Minnesota. An All-Big Ten special mention in 2019, more than 50 NFL recruitment personnel attended the college’s pro day – largely to catch a glimpse of St-Juste going through his paces.

Both Brian Gutekunst and Jon Robinson made the trip but, in the end, it was Washington who snapped up the powerhouse from the Draft.

Chuba Hubbard

The third Canadian to be drafted in 2021 was Chuba Hubbard, who became the first Canadian running back to be selected from the Draft in 25 years.

It’s the Carolina Panthers who have taken a chance on the 22-year-old and with his credentials, you can see why. Hubbard finished eighth in the voting for the Heisman Trophy in 2019 after a stellar campaign – he served up 2,094 rushing yards and 21 touchdowns, an NCAA best. He was named the Big 12 Conference Offensive Player of the Year.

While running backs are not the hottest of properties in the Draft, Hubbard provably has the talent to cross into the end zone with regularity – the Panthers might just have got their hands on an unheralded gem here.

With these three Canadians taking the step up to the NFL, the future of the sport north of the border looks in safe hands.

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Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s

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Andy Murray‘s grasscourt return was cut short in brutal fashion at Queen’s Club as Italian top seed Matteo Berrettini dished out a 6-3 6-3 defeat to the former world number one on Thursday.

The 34-year-old two-time Wimbledon champion, playing in his first singles tournament on grass for three years, could not handle the ferocious pace of Berrettini as he slid to defeat.

Murray eased past Benoit Paire in his opening match on Tuesday but world number nine Berrettini was too big a step up.

Berrettini’s huge first serve and forehand did most of the damage but the Italian also showed plenty of silky touch on the slick lawns to register his first career win over Murray.

Berrettini, 25, finished the match off with a powerful hold of serve, banging down four massive first serves before sealing victory with a clubbing forehand winner.

He faces British number one Dan Evans in the quarter-final after Evans beat Frenchman Adrian Mannarino.

Murray, a five-time winner of the traditional warm-up event but now ranked 124 after long battles with hip injuries including resurfacing surgery in 2019, has been handed a wildcard for the Wimbledon championships.

Apart from a slight groin niggle, Murray said he was reasonably happy with his condition, considering this was only his third Tour-level tournament of the year.

“I think obviously I need to improve,” Murray told reporters. “I actually felt my movement was actually quite good for both of the matches. My tennis today was not very good today. That’s the thing that I’ll need to improve the most.

“I felt like today that that sort of showed my lack of matches.”

Spanish veteran Feliciano Lopez, who won the singles title in 2019 and the doubles alongside Murray, was beaten 6-2 6-3 by Canada‘s Denis Shapovalov.

(Reporting by Martyn HermanEditing by Toby Davis and Pritha Sarkar)

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