The titanic tilt between the two fiercest rivals in international men’s hockey didn’t disappoint.
Canada, after a fast start in its second game of the 2022 Beijing Olympic Winter Games, was pushed back onto its heels by the speedy Americans in a 4-2 loss at the Wukesong Sports Centre on Saturday.
Here’s what you need to know about the Canada-United States Group A preliminary-round game.
1. Cagey, physical veterans lose to speedy, cocky youth
Speed does more than thrill, it actually wins games outside of the NHL.
Case in point: Although American youth and relative inexperience led to sloppy play in their own zone off the opening faceoff, costing them an early goal by Canada’s Mat Robinson, the U.S. quickly gained its footing and was able to work its preferred rush first, backcheck later game to rally to a 3-1 lead.
Repeatedly, the Americans sped past the Canadians to create scoring chances, frequently pushing the retreating Canadians back deep into their own zone. This pressure made life difficult for goalie Eddie Pasquale with all the east-west traffic in the slot blocking clean looks in front. Turns out it’s hard to see when four to five of your teammates have collapsed down low into the slot, effectively causing more chaos than control.
Just as the Germans rushed their passes when faced with the physically intimidating Canadians (1-1) in the opener, against the Americans (2-0) it was the Canadians who were rushing their passes, but for a different reason: those zippy-quick Americans forced quick releases to minimize the turnover risk. As a result, after the Americans regained their composure, they outshot the Canadians 17-1 from the halfway point of the first to the halfway point of the second.
But the veteran Canadian side refused to fold and was able to adjust to make a game of it, and during one stretch of the second period controlled the play in the American zone for a good minute, cycling and generating several chances that were turned aside by American goalie Strauss Mann. But when it looked like a foolish elbowing penalty by captain Eric Staal was going to be a momentum killer, it became just the opposite when Corban Knight scored the short-hander to get Canada back within one.
Overall, though, the highly touted speed and cocky youth selected by American GM John Vanbiesbrouck worked its magic, replicating the approach the World Junior team has deployed with much success.
With an average age of 25.1, the 2022 American roster is the youngest it’s sent to the Olympics since the 1994 team that went to Lillehammer.
For the Canadians, captained by 37-year-old NHL veteran Staal, who is closely followed by 36-year-olds Adam Cracknell and Daniel Winnik, the average age is 29.2. And that’s with three 19-year-olds in Mason McTavish, Owen Power and Kent Johnson helping pull the average down. Of 25 players on the roster, 19 are 27 or older. At times against the Americans, you could see the difference.
Youth convincingly triumphed over experience.
2. Owen Power vs. Jake Sanderson
The first pick overall by the Buffalo Sabres in 2021, Power, Canada’s six-foot-six wonderboy on defence, continued his smooth and calm ways, but wasn’t as dominant as he was against the Germans. Across from him on the other blue line was Ottawa Senators 2020 fifth-overall pick Jake Sanderson, also 19, who is slightly smaller (first time six-foot-two has been considered “smaller”) and just as aggressive when joining the rush.
Sanderson started on the third pairing after clearing COVID-19 protocol and jetting to Beijing, arriving at 12:30 a.m. on the day before the game. He had to pass five consecutive COVID tests while waiting in Los Angeles for the green light.
But despite those challenges, Sanderson played 5:49 in the first period, 16:59 overall, compared to Power’s 6:13/22:13. And he didn’t hold back, letting his wild horses run free with several rushes and frequently jumping into the play.
Both of these players are touted as the best defenceman not in the NHL, but in this head-to-head matchup, the prospect battle belt goes to Sanderson, who was aggressive on the forecheck and a force to be reckoned with all game.
3. The Claude Julien effect
Head coach Claude Julien clearly noticed the spirited play of the bottom two lines while watching from the stands for the team’s 5-1 win over Germany on Thursday, rewarding the third line of Ben Street-Eric O’Dell-Kent Johnson with the first shift of the game.
That loyalty to effort paid off with Canada’s first goal, even though scored by the first line, came as the Americans scrambled with mismatched lines. Because the third line picked up where it left off against Germany, the Americans were pushed back and disorganized in their own zone. Once the Americans settled down, however, they turned the tables and brought their own speed and version of truculence, marginalizing the Canadian energy line for most of the rest of the game.
Whereas Jeremy Colliton held pretty true to the four line combinations while filling in as head coach against Germany, Julien messed with the mix a bit after Canada fell behind. The changes, combined with the momentum swing occurring just before the short-handed goal, resulted in Canada making a game of it.
4. Random bits of information you should know
In Pyeongchang in 2018, Canada earned bronze while Team USA finished seventh. … The injury that Canadian coach Claude Julien suffered as a result of his fall during a team-building exercise in Switzerland before the tournament was a broken rib and a punctured lung, the latter of course preventing him from flying until Thursday. … Referees were from Latvia and Sweden, the linesmen from the Czech Republic and Canada (Dustin McCrank, Haileybury, Ont.). … Canada leads the Olympic series against the Americans, 12-4-3. … Canada’s next game is Sunday at 8:10 a.m. ET against China, while the U.S. faces Germany.
Descriptive scoring summary
1:24 Canada, Mat Robinson, shot from the far boards, through Mann’s legs, soft goal, third goal by defencemen of six Canadian goals
2:34 USA, Andy Miele, backhander top shelf glove side, Pasquale cheating and not hugging the post
18:44 USA, Ben Meyers, broken play, clumsy shot from in tight through a crowd in front, Canada collapsing too deep
2:37 USA, Brendan Brisson, Pasquale mishandles puck behind the net, pass from Nick Shore as Pasquale scrambles back is fired into the empty net
14:13, Canada, Corban Knight, finishes 2-on-1 short-handed, inside post far side above Mann’s lowered shoulder
6:13 USA, Kenny Agostino, squeezes through above arm and body after sloppy clearing-attempt giveaway by Canadian defenceman
Same setup as the opener…
— Hockey Canada (@HockeyCanada) February 12, 2022
— USA Hockey (@usahockey) February 12, 2022
Oilers on the lookout for Flames' desperation after watching Avs-Blues Game 5 – Sportsnet.ca
CALGARY — Everyone knows how hard it is to eliminate a group of National Hockey League players, or more specifically, to send a Calgary Flames team that won 50 regular season games into its summer.
But just in case any of the Edmonton Oilers needed a refresher, many were watching Wednesday night as the St. Louis Blues forged a heroic comeback on the road in Denver. Down 3-1 in the series and 3-0 in the game, the Blues scored four goals, two in the last five minutes including one after going down 4-3, and won a game in overtime to stay alive.
Game 5 can be seen on Sportsnet, starting at 9:30 a.m. ET / 7:30 p.m. MT.
“Just another thing to see in your head, that you know it’s not going to be easy,” said Edmonton defenceman Brett Kulak, who played for the Montreal Canadiens team that came back from down 3-1 to beat Toronto a year ago. “We’re in a good spot this series (up 3-1), but the job’s not done. We all we all know what needs to get done and we got one more win to go. Now, we’re looking to get it.”
So, how does Edmonton match Calgary’s desperation in Game 5?
“We are desperate to close the series. That’s how,” said Oilers captain Connor McDavid, who was all business Thursday morning. “We want to come out and have a strong performance. play our best game in the series, and close the series out.”
Matthew Tkachuk scored 42 goals in the regular season, and opened this series with a Game 1 hat trick. Since then, he chipped in just a single assist in the next three games, all Flames losses.
There was a time when No. 19 wore the black hat in the Battle of Alberta, and used that antagonistic side of his game to inject himself into the series. Usually offence followed, and when it was all said and done, “Matthew” and “Tkachuk” were the two words trending in both Northern and Southern Alberta.
Thus far in Round 2, Tkachuk has been neither pest nor producer, something that will have to change if the Flames are going to turn this thing around.
What has to change?
“Just the skill set. He’s got to use it more to his advantage,” his coach, Darryl Sutter, said. “It’s got nothing to do with effort, with any of our guys who haven’t been as productive after Game 1 of the series. But you have to give Edmonton credit in that too.
“Maybe our guys are doing all they can. Maybe Edmonton is just a little bit better,” Sutter proposed. “That’s kind of the (sidebar) that nobody’s talked about. It’s always been about the negative. Not the good stuff that’s gone on.”
So far, the best Flames forward in this series has been Mikael Backlund, but he’s a 12-goal guy. If the big boys don’t weigh in — starting with Game 5 — it’s hard to see Calgary winning three straight over Edmonton.
As for Johnny Gaudreau, who is a pending UFA, Thursday night could be his last game at the Saddledome — or for the Flames organization, for that matter. He’s not looking ahead that far, of course.
“I really enjoy playing with all these guys in this locker room,” Gaudreau said. “We have a good group in there. It’s been fun all year long.”
Defenceman Chris Tanev took the morning skate next to Oliver Kylington and looks to be in for the Flames again in Game 5. His suspected shoulder injury cost him four playoff games — from Game 7 of Round 1 through Game 3 of Round 2 — and left him doubled over in pain on the Calgary bench at times upon his return in Game 4.
The Flames like their leader on the ice and in their midst, even if it’s pretty clear they are getting something less than 90 percent of their assistant captain.
“You know, even-strength minutes, he was really good last game,” said Sutter of the 17:12 Tanev played at even-strength (19:24 in total). “He made his partner a better player, and with the experience on our back end — or lack of experience or back end — he was important.”
Plenty of players are playing through the pain here, on both sides. Namely, Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse for Edmonton, who have both gutted their way through these playoffs at something less than 100 per cent.
“He’s such a huge part of our team on and off the ice.” Tkachuk said of Tanev. “So, when you get a guy like that to come in for a big game, that definitely motivates you to be a lot.”
“We won 55 games this year. We’re pretty good at getting set for the next one.”
Looks like the same lines as Game 4 for both teams, with Tanev still a bit of question mark and Draisaitl and Nurse once again eschewing the skate.
Evander Kane, whose partner gave birth to a newborn son on Wednesday, remained at home in Edmonton. He’ll be down in time for the game. In other Oilers news, the Finnish media continues to report that goalie Mikko Koskinen is headed for Lugano in the Swiss League next season.
Here are Thursday night’s expected lineups.
CFLPA voting on new tentative agreement with CFL on Thursday – TSN
The CFL and CFL Players’ Association have reached another tentative seven-year agreement.
According to a league source, the two sides hammered out a second agreement in principle Thursday, two days after CFL commissioner Randy Ambrosie unveiled the league’s final offer to its players.
The source spoke on the condition of anonymity as neither the CFL nor the CFLPA have confirmed the deal.
The new agreement is pending ratification by both the CFL Players’ Association membership and the league’s board of governors. According to two sources, the players will vote on the deal Thursday night.
Players on six of the nine CFL teams must vote to ratify the deal, with the required margin being at least 50 per cent plus one of ballots in favour.
Time is of the essence as the CFL pre-season schedule is slated to kick off Friday night with two games.
On Monday, the players voted against a tentative deal that the union had recommended they accept. The CFLPA is also recommending the ratification of Thursday’s tentative agreement.
According to sources, CFL teams will have seven Canadian starters and 21 in total on rosters this year. In 2023, that number increases to eight with one being a nationalized Canadian — an American who has spent either five years in the CFL or at least three with the same team.
Clubs will also be able to rotate two nationalized Canadians for up to 49 per cent of snaps. Teams can move to three nationalized Canadians in 2024 but the two franchises that play the most Canadians at the end of the season will receive additional second-round draft picks.
And the seven pure Canadian starters per game will remain intact throughout the term of deal, which can be reopened after five years when the CFL’s broadcast agreement with TSN expires.
The CFL will also provide $1.225 million in a ratification pool for players.
The biggest asset the CFL receives in the deal is extended labour piece and the opportunity to really rebuild its business.
Last December, the league announced a partnership with Genius Sports, a data, technology and commercial company that connects sports, betting and media. In August 2021, the CFL signed a multi-year partnership with BetRegal to become its official online sports-gaming partner.
Last month, the single-game sports betting industry opened fully in Ontario.
But Canadian Justin Palardy, a former kicker who spent time with five CFL teams from 2010-15, took to social media to voice his displeasure with the deal.
“Like I said on another tweet, what’s the point of drafting more (Canadians) if we’re getting rid of Canadian starters?” he tweeted. “You may think it’s a terrific idea, doesn’t mean it makes sense.”
The two sides had been at odds regarding the Canadian ratio.
Last Wednesday, the CFL and CFLPA reached a tentative seven-year agreement, ending a four-day strike by seven of the league’s nine teams. At first glance, there seemed to be many positives for the players, including a revenue-sharing model, the ability to reopen the pact in five years once the CFL signed a new broadcast deal, and veteran players having the ability to negotiate partially guaranteed contracts.
But the agreement also called for CFL teams to increase the number of Canadian starters from seven to eight. The extra would’ve also been a nationalized Canadian.
In addition, three other nationalized Canadians could play up to 49 per cent of snaps. And the deal didn’t include a ratification bonus.
On Tuesday, Ambrosie unveiled an amended proposal that included a $1-million ratification pool and the abolition of the three nationalized Canadians playing 49 per cent of snaps. However, it also reduced the number of Canadian starters to seven, including one nationalized Canadian.
Not only did Ambrosie say it was the CFL’s final offer, but it was good until midnight ET on Thursday, given the league’s exhibition schedule was slated to begin Friday night with two games. Ambrosie added if the players rejected the offer and opted to go back on strike, they’d be served notice to vacate their respective training-camp facilities.
It marked the second time Ambrosie had gone public with a final contract offer to the CFLPA. On May 14, he posted a letter to fans on the league’s website detailing the league’s proposal to players hours before the former CBA was set to expire.
The next day, players on seven CFL teams opted against reporting to training camp and went on strike. The Edmonton Elks and Calgary Stampeders both opened camp as schedule because they weren’t in a legal strike position, as per provincial labour laws, at the time.
It marked just the second work stoppage in league history and first since 1974.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 26, 2022.
Rocket advance with win in 3OT thriller | TheAHL.com – American Hockey League
The Laval Rocket are off to the Eastern Conference Finals after a wild 6-5 triple-overtime victory over the Rochester Americans on Wednesday night.
The Rocket completed a three-game sweep of the Amerks and will face either Charlotte or Springfield in the next round.
Working on a power play following a delay of game penalty against Rochester, former Amerk Jean-Sébastien Dea wristed a shot that beat Aaron Dell at 1:51 of the third OT period to give the Rocket the victory. It was the second goal of the night for Dea, and came on Laval’s 60th shot of the evening.
Rochester nearly escaped with a Game 3 victory, scoring three times in the third period to take a 5-4 lead before Jesse Ylönen netted the equalizer for the Rocket with 1:07 remaining in regulation.
Back home in front of an energetic crowd of 10,662 fans at Blue Cross Arena, the Amerks struck quickly when Mark Jankowski pounced on a loose puck and scored his sixth goal of the playoffs just 1:04 into the contest.
JJ Peterka made it 2-0 in favor of Rochester with a power-play goal at 8:05, and that lead held until late in the second period, when Laval scored four goals in a span of 3:56 to swing the game in their favor.
Brandon Gignac started the comeback with 6:08 to go in the second period with a nifty deflection of a Corey Schueneman shot from the point. Danick Martel tied things up 55 seconds later, taking Gabriel Bourque’s pass from behind the net and snapping home his fifth goal of the series.
Just 76 seconds after that, the Rocket took their first lead of the night as Xavier Ouellet floated a shot from the left point through traffic that found the top corner over the glove of Aaron Dell.
And with 2:12 to go before intermission, Dea put Laval in front by two, hitting an open cage with Dell out of position following a collision with a teammate in front.
Rochester regrouped during the break and needed just 1:32 to tie things back up. Brett Murray scored 13 seconds into the third period to pull the Amerks to within 4-3, and Peterka got his second of the night 1:19 later off a slick feed from Peyton Krebs.
Murray then scored his second of the period at 8:35, getting a piece of Ethan Prow’s shot from the point and deflecting it home to put Rochester back in front.
Laval outshot Rochester 24-12 during sudden death and killed off two Amerks power plays before converting on their own for the winner.
Cayden Primeau (6-1) made 34 saves and earned his fourth consecutive victory in net for the Rocket. Dell (5-5) stopped a career-high 54 shots for Rochester.
North Division Finals (best-of-5)
N3-Laval Rocket vs. N5-Rochester Americans
Game 1 – Sun., May 22 – LAVAL 6, Rochester 1
Game 2 – Mon., May 23 – LAVAL 3, Rochester 1
Game 3 – Wed., May 25 – Laval 6, ROCHESTER 5 (3OT)
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