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Canada-USA Women’s Worlds Preview: Spooner and Small weigh in on the final – Sportsnet.ca

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Natalie Spooner will be wearing her jersey on Sunday afternoon, and she’ll be yelling at a giant projector screen in the backyard of her home in Komoka, Ont., while she watches her teammates battle the Americans for a world championship gold medal in Denmark. 

For the first time in more than a decade, Spooner — who’ll be cheering for Canada along with her husband, her parents and some neighbours — won’t be a big part of the action herself. And that, sports fans, hasn’t been easy so far.

“It’s way more stressful watching,” says the two-time Olympic and world champion. The dynamic forward with the big smile made her debut at the worlds in 2011 and has been on every Canadian roster since, until this year. “Like, it’s so much more stressful.” 

Spooner is on the shelf because she’s six months pregnant, and expecting a son in December. The 31-year-old is on the ice twice a week, working on power skating and skills, but body contact isn’t exactly advised by a doctor. 

The new role as a fan is “weird,” Spooner admits, but also not. “I look at myself and like, imagine me hitting people with this belly — it would be interesting,” she says, laughing. “It makes it a little bit easier that I know why I’m not there. I miss the girls, the atmosphere, I miss competing and all that. But I try to keep in touch with the girls and see how it’s going over there.” 

Over there, it’s down to the final game, featuring the best rivalry in sport: Canada, the reigning world and Olympic champions, against an American team that earned the top seed in Denmark thanks to a 5-2 win over Canada in a preliminary round matchup. 

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To help set up Sunday’s gold medal final (the puck drops at 1:30 p.m. ET) Sportsnet caught up with Spooner, after she’d played a round of golf, along with another veteran of the Canadian national team, former goalie Sami Jo Small — a four-time world champ and two-time Olympic gold medallist — who kindly agreed to chat after a long shift with TSN. Like Spooner, Small will be watching the action Sunday, and very closely, while she offers crackerjack analysis as a panellist on TSN’s broadcast. 

Spooner and Small break down what they figure to be the differences in the game, they discuss players who’ve surprised them, which team has the edge in net, and they offer their completely biased predictions for who’s going home with those coveted gold medals. 

What’ll be the difference maker? 

Spooner: Establishing chemistry from top to bottom through the lines is really important. (Team Canada coach Troy Ryan) totally flipped the lineup in the quarter-final, so it’ll be really interesting to see the lines in the final. [In the quarter-final, for example, captain Marie-Philip Poulin had a new winger in Victoria Bach, and centre Sara Fillier, who’s been dynamite while averaging more than a point per game, had two new wingers]. 

If I look back to the Olympics one of the best things was, it was any of the four lines that could go out and score at any given time, all four lines were rolling. If we can get some chemistry between at least a few of the lines, I think it’ll keep the momentum of the game going in Canada’s favour. 

Small: What’s in the back of my mind is that the Canadians haven’t really found chemistry yet. Obviously they’ve won all their games but they’re just not quite clicking. They have some incredible individual efforts, and they have some sparks, they’re generating amazing plays, but it’s not sustained. I’m really curious going into the final if this is coach Ryan’s final lineup or is he holding his cards close to his chest so the Americans don’t see it?

I’m really curious to see what adjustments he can make to the team we saw in the prelim game against the Americans, to the final. He keeps us guessing, that’s for sure… I’m looking for coach Ryan to make some changes that will miraculously lead to the Canadians putting some pucks in the net and then they’ll just rely on [goalie] Ann-Renee [Desbiens] to be the backstop she can be.

Spooner: I think (coach Ryan) will go back to some old lines and have some new ones based off what he thought worked and didn’t work. 

He’s really good at telling players what you’re good at and what you need to bring to the team. Before the Olympics, this is how nice he is: He wrote us all individual notes about what you mean to the team and what you’re bringing. We each knew what our role was. You would just want to go through a brick wall because you know, this is what I can do, and we can win if we do these things. I think what he’s able to get out of his players is something special. 

Who has the edge between the pipes among probable starters, Nicole Hensley for the Americans and Ann Renee Desbiens for Canada? 

Spooner: Oh yeah, it’s Desbiens. Desbiens is a big game player. She makes saves out of nowhere to save the team. She gives our team a lot of confidence when she’s in net. For sure if she’s playing in the final, she’ll definitely do her part to make sure our team is winning that game.  

Small: Canada doesn’t have just the slight edge in goaltending, I would give them a large, sizeable advantage there. It isn’t her technique that makes Desbiens amongst the best in the world as a goalie, it is her confidence and her ability to stay calm in big moments and to just have that poise for her team. In conversations with [veteran Canadian defender] Renata Fast, she feels so confident back there with Ann Renee. It gives them this boost to have that extra bit of offence or pinch a little deeper. You just always know that no matter what, she’s going to be back there. 

Any surprises from either team? 

Small: It’s those younger American players to me that just have been amazing, with incredible performances on a big stage in their first major tournament. That was the question mark: can their young guns replace the veterans like a Brianna Decker [she’s out after breaking her leg at the Olympics], or a Megan Bozek [she retired post-Olympics]. The Americans had some huge losses and while you can’t replace players like that, what these young people have brought has really elevated this team, thanks to youth and exuberance but also performance. 

Taylor Heise has been incredible [she had a hat-trick in the quarter-final], and Hannah Bilka [who also had a hat-trick in the quarter-final] has been awesome. Lacey Eden has been great. Their young guns are really, really impressive. And [coach John Wroblewski] is using them in big roles, too. That doesn’t necessarily happen on the Canadian squad right away, you kind of work your way in, you owe your dues. But right away Hannah Bilka is playing alongside Hilary Knight and she’s playing lights out. 

Spooner: I know everyone on Team Canada is amazing, so there are no surprises. Ella Shelton has been really good on D. At the Olympics she was in and out of playing and not getting that much ice time, and now she’s playing with confidence and jumping in the play, she’s playing really well. You see all the regulars, they all look good: Laura Stacey looks really fast, [Sarah] Potomak scored that amazing goal [in the quarter-final], Bacher [Victoria Bach] has scored some really nice goals. I think if they can keep their confidence up and have that swagger, that’s going to be really good for the big game. 

Predictions, predictions…

Spooner: Ok, I’m going to go with Canada winning. I’m calling the most generic score because it feels like every game we play them is 3-2. So, let’s go with 3-2. This will happen in regulation. No overtime, please. 

Game-winner, I’d love to go with Pou [Poulin] or Fillier, but I think Fillier’s gonna score one of the earlier ones. Oh, there are so many options, this is really hard. Let’s go with Clarkie [Emily Clark]. She’s been playing third-line but I think it’s gonna be an effort goal, and we’re gonna need those effort goals where it’s just dirty around the net. 

Small: I’m going to go with Canada. Shots are going to be lop-sided, but Ann Renee Desbiens is going to come up huge and Sarah Nurse is going to score the game-winner. It’ll be 4-2 with an empty-netter. And yes, 100 per cent bias in that prediction [laughs].

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Mariners-Blue Jays 2022 Wild Card Series Game 1 FAQ – MLB.com

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TORONTO — After regular-season campaigns with very few dull moments, two postseason-hungry clubs are ready for October.

The Blue Jays and Mariners face off in Game 1 of the American League Wild Card Series on Friday at Rogers Centre.

Seattle snapped the largest active playoff drought in MLB by securing the second AL Wild Card spot with a 90-72 regular-season record, while Toronto will play a postseason game in front of its fans for the first time since 2016.

Since the Blue Jays secured home-field advantage by finishing the regular season with the best record among AL Wild Card teams, at 92-70, all of the games in the best-of-three set will be played at Rogers Centre. The winner gets a date with the Astros in the American League Division Series.

For both teams, this moment is a balancing act between excitement and the demands of the spotlight.

“Pressure is something you put in your tires,” said righty Alek Manoah, who will start Game 1 for the Blue Jays against the Mariners’ Luis Castillo. “This is just baseball. This is just a game. Understand [that,] go out there and have some fun and leave the pressure for your tires.”

“It’s the postseason, where confidence can play an important role here,” Castillo said through interpreter Freddy Llanos. “And when I go up on that mound, I’m very confident.”

When is the game and how can I watch it?

Game 1: Friday, 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT, ESPN (Sportsnet in Canada)
Game 2: Saturday, 4 p.m. ET/1 p.m. PT, ESPN (Sportsnet in Canada)
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday, 2 p.m. ET/11 a.m. PT, ABC (Sportsnet in Canada)

All series are available in the US on MLB.TV with authentication to a participating Pay TV provider. Games are not available live internationally (archives are available approximately 90 minutes after the game ends).

What might the starting lineups look like?

Mariners: Manager Scott Servais hinted on Thursday that the lineup will likely look similar to what he’s rolled out in recent weeks, with Julio Rodríguez and Ty France at the top, followed by Mitch Haniger, Eugenio Suárez and Carlos Santana in some order. Servais likes to go right-left when possible, especially against a power pitcher like Manoah.

Blue Jays: Toronto’s biggest decision comes at the DH spot, but with Alejandro Kirk catching Manoah in Game 1, Danny Jansen has been swinging the bat too well to keep him out of the lineup. This is close to the order that the Blue Jays were using down the stretch against the Yankees and Red Sox as they tried to clinch a postseason spot, then home field.

Who are the starting pitchers?

Mariners: Castillo (8-6, 2.99 ERA) takes the mound bringing supreme confidence after a stellar 11-start stretch after the Mariners acquired him ahead of the Trade Deadline. Though his postseason experience is limited to 2020, when there were no fans in the stands, Castillo has already established himself as a big-game pitcher and welcomes this stage.

Blue Jays: Manoah (16-7, 2.24 ERA) opens the series, and the Blue Jays couldn’t be happier. The big right-hander is built for the postseason and seems to feed off the moment and crowd as well as anyone in baseball. September’s AL Pitcher of the Month is peaking at the right time, and he should benefit from some extra rest just like he did in his last outing.

Mariners: Sam Haggerty (Grade 2 right adductor strain) won’t be on the postseason roster after suffering the injury on Monday, dealing the Mariners a big blow for their sparkplug off the bench. Jesse Winker (cervical disc bulge) also hit the 10-day IL this week, though his role was more unclear given his significant defensive struggles and brutal second half at the plate. Instead, the Mariners will lean on Taylor Trammell and Abraham Toro, the players who were recalled from Triple-A Tacoma to take those guys’ places.

Blue Jays: Lourdes Gurriel Jr. (left hamstring strain) and Santiago Espinal (left oblique strain) both flew home from Baltimore early this week to continue their rehabs in the controlled atmosphere at Rogers Centre, and each decision is expected to come right down to the wire. It’s also a question of just how ready either would be after Gurriel said Monday that he may only be ready to pinch-hit by the postseason opener. Would that be enough, especially considering the talent already in this lineup?

The only issue on the pitching side is expected to be a minor one and no longer an issue by Game 2, but Kevin Gausman left his final regular-season outing with a cut on his right middle finger, near the nail. Both Gausman and manager John Schneider said this shouldn’t impact his expected Game 2 start, but it’s worth keeping an eye on over the next 24 hours.

Who is hot and who is not?

Mariners: Rodríguez rocketed his 28th homer in the regular-season finale, putting the finishing touches on an AL Rookie of the Year Award bid, and given how much he already relishes the big stage, it’s a strong bet that he’ll impact this series. As for who’s not, Crawford’s inconsistencies have stretched all the way into a two-month period, with the shortstop slashing .200/.340/.259 (.599 OPS) over the final two months.

Blue Jays: Several Blue Jays are peaking at the right time, which started with Bichette in September. Bichette hit .403 with a 1.134 OPS that month, his 48 hits the most in a single month by a Blue Jays hitter. Merrifield has caught fire since taking over everyday reps from Espinal, too, flashing some power down the stretch and completely flipping the script on his ‘22 season with the Blue Jays. Jansen, who started the year hot then hit the IL with a fractured bone in his hand, is back in a groove, too, and could be an X-factor in this series at the bottom of the lineup.

If there’s one hitter the Blue Jays need more from, though, it’s Guerrero. He’s had his moments, like his walk-off hit to beat the Yankees in 10 innings on Sept. 26, but he simply hasn’t been the hitter everyone saw in ‘21, when he looked like a perennial MVP candidate and Triple Crown threat. Guerrero’s potential impact is unrivaled, though, and the Blue Jays need him to break a game open.

Anything else I should know?

Mariners: Seattle hasn’t been on this stage in a generation, and there are only a handful of players on the roster who have any postseason experience. Because of how green they are, they could be susceptible to a sink-or-swim effect, but they’ve also shown late-inning resiliency to punch back when the stakes are high.

Blue Jays: The Blue Jays are ready to be aggressive, a mindset they’ve been preaching since Schneider took the reins in July. That starts on the bases, where the Blue Jays have done a much better job of taking extra bags, but it could extend to bullpen usage, too. Jordan Romano, the Canadian closer coming off a season with a 2.11 ERA and 36 saves, has made nine multi-inning (1 1/3 or more frames) appearances this season. They certainly won’t shy away from another.

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Stutzle's three-point night propels Senators over Canadiens in Gander, N.L. – Sportsnet.ca

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Tim Stutzle recorded a goal and two assists as the Ottawa Senators won their third consecutive game over the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 Thursday in pre-season action at the Steele Community Centre in Gander, N.L.

Drake Batherson opened the scoring just 38 seconds into the game, followed by a Brady Tkachuk goal under eight minutes later as Ottawa (4-3) took an early 2-0 lead.

Kaiden Guhle put Montreal (0-6-1) on the board 12:23 into the first period to cut the deficit.

In the second, Kirby Dach scored a power-play goal to even the game for the Canadiens 5:13 into the period. However, Stutzle responded six minutes later to put Ottawa up once again.

Claude Giroux added to the Senators’ lead 8:02 into the final period. Josh Anderson scored for Montreal a minute later but that was all the Canadiens could muster.

Anton Forsberg stopped 20-of-23 shots he faced in the victory while his counterpart Cayden Primeau made 22 saves for Montreal.

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Online gambling in Canada: The risks and how to stay safe

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Gambling is a popular pastime in Canada, with many people regularly taking part in activities such as the lottery, casinos, and online gambling.

While gambling can be a fun and enjoyable way to spend time, it’s important to be aware of the risks involved.

How to online gamble safely in Canada – A guide for beginners

There are a few things to keep in mind when gambling online in Canada, especially if you’re a beginner.

First and foremost, you should only gamble with money that you can afford to lose. It’s also important to set limits for yourself – both on how much you’re willing to spend and how much time you’re willing to spend gambling.

It’s also a good idea to do some research before you start gambling. This means reading up on the different types of games available on N°1 guide to online gambling in Canada, as well as the odds of winning. Once you have a good understanding of the basics, you can then start looking for an online casino that offers the games and odds that you’re interested in.

What are the risks of online gambling in Canada?

There are a few risks associated with online gambling in Canada, but they are relatively minor. The biggest risk is probably financial, as it can be easy to get carried away and spend more money than you intended to.

Another risk is that of addiction, as gambling can be quite addictive. If you find yourself spending more and more time gambling, or if you start neglecting other aspects of your life in favor of gambling, it might be time to seek help.

Finally, there is the risk of getting scammed. There are a lot of scams out there, and some of them target people who gamble online. Be sure to do your research and only gamble with reputable sites to minimize this risk.

What types of online gambling are available in Canada?

The most popular type is online casino gambling, which includes games such as slots, blackjack, roulette, and poker. There are also many sports betting websites available in Canada, where you can bet on your favourite teams and players. Finally, there are also online lottery websites where you can purchase tickets for various lottery games.

So if you’re thinking about gambling online, remember to do your research, choose a reputable site, and most importantly, don’t bet more than you can afford to lose.

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