Nothing like starting the 2020 IIHF World Juniors off with a bang.
As a tradition, the tournament begins on Boxing Day and Day 1 this year sees two of the top contenders, Canada and the United States, go toe-to-toe in the “Battle of North America.” It should be a no-holds-barred event, as national pride and bragging rights are on the line.
“There’s no putting your foot into the water — you’ve got to go full in,” said American, and Ottawa Senators prospect, Shane Pinto to reporters. “It’s going to be a tough one, but I think we’re ready.”
Canada’s Jacob Bernard-Docker — and fellow Senators prospect — added about the rivalry: “Heated . . . Two countries that don’t like each other playing against each other.”
While everyone expects these teams to go the distance, whether they’ll make it is not set in stone. They are in what’s being dubbed, “The Group of Death” as Group B also includes Russia, potential Cinderella team, Germany, and the host Czech Republic. In the first game of the day, the Czechs upset Russia 4-3.
Coming off a silver medal in 2019, the United States once again is pound-for-pound a favorite and built to dominate from the ground up. Florida Panthers prospect Spencer Knight is getting the start in net and should give the Americans a considerable edge; couple that with the firepower up front and defensive skill on the blue line and Canada will have its work cut out for them.
However, Canada won’t be pulling any punches. In between the pipes may be their weakest link, but the forwards’ corps has some of the biggest snipers in the game with names like Alexis Lafreniere, Quinton Byfield and Raphael Lavoie. They’ll be backed by a veteran group that includes Ty Smith and Jared McIsaac, which is looking for revenge after a disappointing sixth-place finish last year.
Sporting News will have the blow-by-blow for you as the two teams spar in Game 1 of the tournament.
(All times Eastern.)
Canada vs. USA scores, highlights from 2020 World Juniors
3:15 p.m. — Canada takes a penalty. USA will look to tie this one up.
3:13 p.m. — GOAL. USA makes it a one-goal game with 7:14 left on the clock as Toronto Maple Leafs’ prospect Nick Robertson pulls in the puck and fires the wrister. Canada leads 4-3.
3:10 p.m. — PP GOAL. It’s all about the special teams in this one. Alexis Lafreniere dazzles as he cuts to the middle and feeds Barrett Hayton for the easy goal. Canada leads 4-2.
3:07 p.m. — Spencer Stastney takes a penalty. Canada heads to the power play.
3:00 p.m. — USA with a quality chance as Oliver Wahlstrom gets the rebound but it’s Nico Daws who comes up big with the leg save. Quick reminder, Daws is eligible for the 2020 draft.
2:55 p.m. — Back to even strength
2:55 p.m. — Bobby Brink with a good move around the net and pass in front but can’t connect.
2:53 p.m. — Third period starts. USA on the power play and trail by one.
2:41 p.m. — For your viewing pleasure during intermission:
End of second period: Canada 3, USA 2
2:35 p.m. — Yep. The goal is being reviewed . . . and its waved off! USA still trails 3-2 but will start the third on the power play.
2:34 p.m. — PP GOAL. At the buzzer, the United States ties it up! Puck squirts out in front and Shane Pinto buries it as the Canadians lose track of him and the puck. USA celebrates but definitely looks like the period had ended.
2:33 p.m. — With 16 seconds left in the period, Canada’s Kevin Bahl takes a penalty. USA, who needs a goal to tie, is 2-for-2 on the power play.
2:31 p.m. — Off a save, the puck hits a Canadian defender in front and Nico Daws has to make a quick pad save.
2:25 p.m. — Canada back to the power play for the third time in the game. Not a good play as two of Canada’s three goals have come on the power play.
2:20 p.m. — PP GOAL. The tide has turned in the second period. Canada takes a 3-2 lead as Nolan Foote’s shot beats Spencer Knight top shelf. Canada leads 3-2.
2:19 p.m. — Puck deflects out into the slot and Spencer Knight makes the shoulder stop.
2:16 p.m. — Canadians back on the power play. They’re 1-for-2 thus far.
2:09 p.m. — PP GOAL. The Canadian captain Barrett Hayton with an absolute rifle from the right circle ties the game. Game tied 2-2.
2:07 p.m. — Canada heads back to the power play as Shane Pinto gets sent to the sin bin. The Canadians will look to tie this one up and are 0-for-1 with the man advantage in the game.
2:02 p.m. — GOAL. Great play by the Canadians as they push out of their own. In the US end, Akil Thomas off the chip feeds Connor McMichael who buries it. USA leads 2-1.
1:59 p.m. — Joe Veleno gets a Grade A chance but Spencer Knight makes the stop.
1:56 p.m. — Second period underway.
End of first period: USA 2, Canada 0
1:40 p.m. — After 1, it’s USA 2, Canada 0. Canada has to stay out of the box in this one as the Americans netted two power-play goals on two opportunities.
1:37 p.m. — PP GOAL. Trevor Zegras controls the puck in the circle and feeds Kings prospect Arthur Kaliyev for the one-timer into the open net as Nico Daws can’t get across. USA leads 2-0.
1:35 p.m. — Jared McIsaac called for hooking; not a smart play by the world juniors veteran. USA heads back to the power play and is already 1-for-1 on the night.
1:32 p.m. — Canada now leads 7-6 in shots, but USA has blocked a ton of shots too. Corsi For tilting Canada’s way at this point in the contest.
1:23 p.m. — Canada starting to throw the body around. Alexis Lafreniere crushes Mattias Samuelsson hard into the glass.
1:19 p.m. — Canada gets its first shot on net, six minutes and 10 seconds into the game.
1:19 p.m. — Alexis Lafreniere showing off the skills that should make him the No. 1 pick in June.
1:18 p.m. — USA’s Jordan Harris called for high-sticking. Canada heads to the power play.
1:18 p.m. — More than five minutes into the game and Canada still doesn’t have a shot on net.
1:13 p.m. — PP GOAL. Shane Pinto sitting in the high slot with the big deflection off the Zac Jones shot from the point. USA leads 1-0.
1:12 p.m. — Canada’s Barrett Hayton called for tripping. USA heads to the power play.
1:09 p.m. — Game on! Spencer Knight (Panthers) vs. Nico Daws in between the pipes.
12:37 p.m. — Canada hitting the ice for warmups in the red threads.
12:21 p.m. — USA wearing the white threads the 1960 Olympic team wore when they captured the United States’ first-ever gold medal.
12:20 p.m. — Canada’s lineup.
12:00 p.m. — USA announces its lineup.
Berrettini ends Murray’s comeback at Queen’s
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)
Be Like the King of the North Division and Develop Skills
It’s been a year unlike no other for Canadian hockey teams, with COVID-19 travel restrictions forcing the creation of a new NHL division made up entirely of Canadian teams. The previous generation of NHL hockey was known as the “Dead Puck Era” because referees tolerated slowing down the game with clutching and grabbing.
The leading scorers today score in jaw-dropping fashion and routinely pull off stickhandling dangles that were unimaginable until only recently. The Canadian team that will win the North Division will be the one with the most skill.
Here are the training aids that will help you develop your skills all year long.
Innovators like HockeyShot Canada make “passers” so that players can develop pinpoint accuracy and the soft hands necessary to cradle and control a pass when it lands on your stick. The high-quality rubber bands return the puck with the same force which passed it, so you can give yourself one-timers or work on accuracy.
Whether you’re on a two-on-one, sending a breakout pass from the defensive zone, or holding down the blue line on the power play, every positional player needs to pass accurately.
A player is lucky to get a few shots on net each game, and they can’t let them go to waste. Until recently, players needed to rent ice in the off-season to practice their shots in realistic game-like conditions.
Now, players can use shooting pads at their home that let pucks glide as they do on real ice. Shooting is perhaps the one skill that requires the most repetition because one inch can be the difference between going bar-down and clanking one wide off the post.
Practice your quick release and accuracy and develop an arsenal of shots, including wrist shots, slapshots, one-timers, and more. The more tools in your tool kit, the deadlier a sniper you’ll be.
Having the puck on your stick is a responsibility, and you don’t want to cough it up to the other team and waste a scoring chance or lose possession. The ability to stickhandle helps you bide time until a teammate is open, so you can pass them the puck and continue attacking.
If you’re on a breakaway, you may want to deke the goalie rather than shoot if your hands are silky enough. Develop stickhandling skills, and you’ll keep goalies and opponents guessing – being unpredictable helps make a sniper’s job easier.
Of course, you also need to handle the puck in your own zone without causing a turnover. Stickhandling is a crucial skill in all areas of the ice.
When the coach sends you over the board, you need to be prepared for whatever comes your way. Maybe you’ll get the puck in the slot or somewhere else, but when it’s playoffs, you always need to be ready. The Kings of the North Division have all of the above skills and more, and you can too if you practice all year.
Australia swim trials calendar shift to reap Tokyo rewards
Australia broke with tradition to hold its swimming trials just six weeks before the start of the 2020 Olympics and former world champion Giaan Rooney said the move could reap rich rewards in Tokyo after disappointments at London and Rio.
Australia has typically held its trials up to six months before an Olympics but that gap has been drastically cut this year with swimmers vying for Tokyo spots this week in Adelaide.
Rooney, who won individual world titles at Fukuoka and Montreal and a relay gold at the 2004 Athens Olympics, said Australia is gearing up for a much improved Games after its swimmers flopped at Rio and London.
“I think we needed to make it work,” she told Reuters. “The shift started about a year ago to bring the trials into line with the rest of the world and qualify five or six weeks before.
“In sport and swimming, six months is a long time,” Rooney added. “From a coaching perspective, it’s much better to know you have chosen the team in form.”
After winning five gold medals at Sydney 2000 and seven in Athens, the Australian team was rocked by accusations of disruptive behaviour by some of its top sprinters at the 2012 Olympics.
Australia won just one gold medal in the London pool and three in Rio five years ago.
Australia knew something had to be done if it was to close the gap on the powerful Americans and moving the trials is part of the strategy.
“I think it’s to make your swimmers more resilient to change,” Rooney said.
“In the USA they get to race every week regardless of illness or breakups and under all circumstances. Nothing rattles them.
“Australia doesn’t have that racing continuity. This is about making sure you are prepared for anything. I think our swimmers are more resilient than they have been in the past decade, COVID is part of this.”
Rooney said there might even be an “upside” for Australia with the Olympics postponed by a year due to the global health crisis, with the emergence of swimmers like teenager Kaylee McKeown, who broke the women’s 100m backstroke world record on Sunday.
“We are now talking about athletes who are not only going to make the Olympics but are medal chances,” Rooney said.
“We wouldn’t have been talking about her this time last year. She might not have been ready for a position on the team. She is now a legitimate gold medal chance in Tokyo once she gets there.”
For all her confidence about Australia’s performance in Tokyo, Rooney was wary of making predictions about a gold rush for her compatriots.
“I think this will be a more successful Olympics for us than Rio in the pool but individual goal medals will still be difficult to come by,” said the 38-year-old.
“The biggest challenge is to make the jump from minor medals to gold.”
(Editing by Peter Rutherford)