VANCOUVER — Even after setting a CFL record, B.C. Lions quarterback Nathan Rourke saw room for improvement.
The 24-year-old native of Victoria, B.C., threw for 436 yards on Saturday, powering the Lions to a dominant 44-3 victory over the Toronto Argonauts.
It was the most passing yards a Canadian quarterback has ever put up in a CFL game, eclipsing the 427-yard mark set by Gerry Dattilio in 1981.
“I’m just a distributor of the football out there. Those guys are getting in the right positions and they’re making big plays,” Rourke said after the win.
“There were a couple throws today, especially the first half where I wasn’t nearly as accurate as I need to be. But those guys made some plays for me and made me look good out there.”
The performance was no surprise to veteran Lions defensive back Gary Peters.
“When you come into the facility, he’s the first one there. And I’m one of the last people to leave. He’s literally there after me, walking eating a peanut butter jelly sandwich, trying to find something to do. He’s always working no matter what,” he said.
“He’s trying to perfect himself. He’s a young guy, but you can see in his eyes that he’s really hungry.”
Rourke completed 39 of 45 passes on Saturday, including four touchdowns. He was sacked once.
Dominique Rhymes hauled in two majors for B.C. (2-0), while Bryan Burnham and Jevon Cottoy each had one. Fullback David Mackie scored a rushing TD late in the fourth quarter. Kicker Sean Whyte chipped in with three field goals, including a 50-yard strike.
B.C.’s defence smothered the Argos (1-1), holding McLeod Bethel-Thompson to 178 passing yards. The Toronto quarterback connected on 15 of 21 attempts, threw one interception and was sacked twice before being replaced late in the fourth quarter.
Chad Kelly came on in relief and threw for 26 yards, completing two of four attempts. He was sacked once and threw one interception.
The Argos’ only points of the night came off a 23-yard field goal from Boris Bede early in the second quarter.
“I’m totally embarrassed. That was a horrible display of football,” said Toronto head coach Ryan Dinwiddie. “That was a tough loss. It sucks. I hate it. But we can’t let it ruin our season. We’ve just got to go back to work and find ways to get better.”
The Lions were coming off of a bye week but showed no rust early in Saturday’s game, kicking it off with an eight-play, 68-yard scoring drive.
Rourke scrambled out of a collapsing pocket to pick up 11 yards and a first down, then capped the drive with a crisp 19-yard pass to Burnham in the end zone. The veteran wide receiver bowed twice to the crowd after tallying his first touchdown of the season.
B.C.’s defensive unit was tested on Toronto’s first possession of the night, with DaVaris Daniels powering through a tackle and Bethel-Thompson finding Dejon Brissett on the Lions’ one-yard line.
The Lions stood strong and denied the visitors all three times they attempted to sneak into the end zone. Toronto turned the ball over on downs.
“And then it just snowballed and we couldn’t get nothing going,” Dinwiddie said. “And we get a little bit going in the third quarter then we fumble. I mean, everybody had a hand in it. It’s just It’s upsetting, but we’ve got to find ways to get better.”
Early in the second quarter, B.C. cornerback Delvin Breaux knocked down a long toss from Bethel-Thompson to Brandon Banks and Dinwiddie challenged the call, arguing defensive pass interference. On review, officials agreed and Toronto was awarded a first down at the B.C. 21-yard line.
Lions defensive lineman David Menard sacked Bethel-Thompson on the next play, but the Argos still managed to score on the drive, with Bede booting a field goal that cut Toronto’s deficit to 10-3.
Rourke increased the Lions’ cushion midway through the half, finding Rhymes in the end zone with a 19-yard bullet to cap a nine-play, 70-yard scoring drive.
B.C. headed to the locker room up 20-3 after Whyte hit a 44-yard field goal to close out the second quarter.
A rash of injuries swept through B.C.’s lineup late in the first half, though, with linebacker Bo Lokombo, running back James Butler and Burnham all heading to the locker room with game-ending injuries. Receiver Lucky Whitehead appeared to suffer an ankle injury too but stayed in the game.
“A couple of people went down but it just makes us stronger,” Rhymes said. “And it just shows the versatility we have on offence. When one man goes down, that’s our brother, so we want to make sure we only pick it up for him.”
Lions head coach Rick Campbell said Burnham went to the hospital to have further tests done and the team won’t know his status until Sunday. Lokombo and Butler may be available to play next week.
Midway through the third frame, Wynton McMannis hauled down Rourke around centre field for a seven-yard loss. The Lions remained undeterred, though, and sent Whyte out for a 50-yard field goal attempt. He made the kick, giving B.C. a 23-3 lead.
Lions defensive end Obum Gwacham seemed to exact some revenge on the next possession, sacking Bethel-Thompson.
Rourke’s arching 29-yard toss to a wide-open Cottoy deep in the red zone set up B.C.’s third TD of the night late in the third quarter. Cottoy took a couple of quick steps into the end zone and tallied his first major of the season.
The final frame saw Rourke again connect with Rhymes, this time with a 24-yard toss. Stationed just outside of the end zone, Rhymes easily completed the touchdown and the Lions took a 37-3 lead.
Peters added to Toronto’s woes midway through the fourth quarter, picking off Bethel-Thompson’s pass.
Mackie — filling in at running back for the injured Butler — muscled the ball over the goal line late in the fourth for his first CFL touchdown. A successful convert from Whyte gave the home side a 44-3 lead.
Kelly came on for Bethel-Thompson to close out the game and was quickly sacked by Menard.
The Lions will be back in action on Thursday when they tackle the Redblacks in Ottawa. The Argos will host the Winnipeg Blue Bombers on July 4.
FOOTNOTES: The victory gives B.C. a 2-0 start to the season for the first time since 2016. … Argos offensive lineman Jonathan Zamora limped off the field after being injured on a play midway through the fourth quarter. Saturday marked the 100th all-time meeting between the two teams. B.C. holds a 60-38-2 edge in the series.
Three Stars from Day 6 of WJC: Bergmanis steals the show in Latvia’s historical win – Sportsnet.ca
In a slate of games featuring the likes of Sweden, Finland and the United States, the showstopper of Day 6 at the World Juniors was Latvia.
The tiny country notched its first ever win in WJC preliminary round play and by the same token hopped over Czechia and Slovakia into third place in Group A.
Latvian captain Ralf Bergmanis scored a hat trick and his team downed Czechia 5-3. They will play a World Juniors quarterfinal game for the first time in the country’s history.
Needless to say, the young men in burgundy were quite thrilled.
Finland had no pity for Slovakia and continued their solid run in the tournament with a 9-3 win. The Young Lions were 5-for-7 on the power play, sending their next opponents Canada a message to stay disciplined for their final preliminary round game on Monday.
Slovakia saw their chances to play a quarterfinal game crumble before their eyes in the next game. Sitting in the stands, Slovak players held their heads in their hands as Bergmanis scored his third goal from across the ice into an empty net.
The Americans outpaced Sweden for most of their battle for first place in Group B. Goaltending woes allowed the Junior Crowns to hope for a comeback but the red, white and blue weathered the late storm to clinch a 3-2 win.
The Swedes will play Germany on Monday and the winner will end the preliminary round in second place.
Here is a look at the top performances from Day 6 of the World Juniors:
3rd star: Matt Coronato, USA
Coronato’s scoring ability is more than evident. If you give an inch, he’ll take a mile.
The five-foot-10 winger added two goals to his World Juniors tally and helped the Americans finish atop Group B. Coronato is now tied with his country-mate Carter Mazur as the tournament’s second-leading goalscorer with four.
The Calgary Flames’ 13th overall selection in the 2021 NHL Draft showed his eye for goal with his second marker of the night. Off a Swedish turnover, Coronato bagged the eventual game-winner with a sniper’s goal.
Coronato notched his first goal of the game in the second period when he pounced on a rebound from a shot by Logan Cooley. The soon-to-be Harvard sophomore made Sweden goalie Jesper Wallsted look bad by lodging the puck under his blocker and into the net.
2nd star: Kasper Simontaival, Finland
There’s no shame in being opportunistic, especially if it earns you points in return. Simontaival did exactly that to bridge the gap between the Finns and Slovaks. The winger finished the game with three points (two goals, one assist) including one assist on the power play.
The LA Kings third-rounder in 2020 stood by the slot and pounced on a rebound to give Finland a power-play goal 34 seconds into the second period. The goal was later given to Roni Hirvonen, who had touched the puck last.
Both players also combined in the first period, this time Hirvonen found Simontaival in the slot for the goal.
Simontaival notched his second goal of the game in the third period when he was, once again, in front of the net. He redirected Aatu Raty’s pass in the back of the net and gave Finland an 8-3 lead.
The 20-year-old even screened goalie Tomas Bolo for Finland’s ninth goal of the game courtesy of Kasper Puutio. Bottom line, sticking around dangerous areas is paying off for the five-foot-nine winger.
1st star: Ralfs Bergmanis, Latvia
Captain Latvia came through for the motherland. Charles and Nikolaj Boyle from Brooklyn’s 99th precinct would be proud.
Bergmanis opened his tournament account and finished the game as the hat trick hero, lifting his country into the knockout round.
Bergmanis completed his hat trick in an empty net, from behind his own net. A rink-long shot sealed his team’s victory, as the disillusioned Slovak players watched their elimination from the stands.
[brightcove videoID=6310886309112 playerID=JCdte3tMv height=360 width=640]
Latvia took a first-period lead and right as Czechia attempted the comeback with an equalizing goal in the second, the University of Vermont commit got to work. Bergmanis regained Latvia’s lead when his shot from the point in traffic found the back of the net.
Bergmanis then gave his country a two-goal lead on the power play. From the point, the blueliner broke Frantisek Nemec’s ankles before beating Czech netminder Jan Bednar with a wrister.
The 20-year-old is still undrafted but he sure made a lot of eyes look his way in one of the biggest games in Latvian junior hockey history.
Blue Jays activate Springer from IL, designate Zimmer for assignment – Sportsnet.ca
The Toronto Blue Jays have activated outfielder George Springer from the 10-day injured list ahead of Monday’s series opener against the Baltimore Orioles.
Outfielder Bradley Zimmer was designated for assignment in a corresponding move.
Springer has been on the IL with right elbow inflammation since Aug. 5. Interim manager John Schneider has previously said Springer is expected to slot in as the designated hitter once activated to allow the injury to continue to heal.
When healthy, Springer has made a major impact from the lead-off spot for the Blue Jays. In 89 games he has hit .251/.331/.464 with 18 home runs and 49 RBI, good enough to earn a selection to this year’s all-star game.
Zimmer was never able to make an impact beyond as a defensive replacement this season and his role was further limited by the addition of free-agent Jackie Bradley Jr. last week. The 29-year-old Zimmer was brought in to provide some depth as a left-handed bat and appeared in 77 games, hitting .105/.209/.237.
The Blue Jays outfield, now healthy, consists of Springer, Lourdes Gurriel Jr., Teoscar Hernandez and Bradley, Jr., with Whit Merrifield and Cavan Biggio available as platoon options.
Yusei Kikuchi will be on the mound when the Blue Jays host the Orioles in the first of three games Monday night. You can watch the game on Sportsnet and SN NOW beginning at 7:07 p.m. ET.
Hockey Canada announces Women's Worlds roster – TSN
Hockey Canada has announced the 23 players named to Canada’s National Women’s Team who will look to defend the gold medal at the 2022 IIHF Women’s World Championship, beginning August 24 in Denmark.
The players were chosen following an 11-day selection camp at the Markin MacPhail Centre at WinSport’s Canada Olympic Park in Calgary as part of the BFL National Women’s Program Summer Showcase. The camp featured on- and off-ice testing, skills sessions and six intrasquad games showcasing players competing for roster spots with Canada’s National Women’s Team and Canada’s National Women’s Development Team.
Ann-Renée Desbiens, Clermont, Que.; Emerance Maschmeyer, Bruderheim, Alta.; Kristen Campbell, Brandon. Man.
Jocelyne Larocque, Ste. Anne, Man.; Meaghan Mikkelson, St. Albert, Alta.; Renata Fast, Burlington, Ont.; Ella Shelton, Ingersoll, Ont.; Ashton Bell, Deloraine, Man.; Erin Ambrose, Keswick, Ont.; Micah Zandee-Hart, Saanichton, B.C.
Laura Stacey, Kleinburg, Ont.; Jessie Eldridge, Barrie, Ont.; Sarah Fillier, Georgetown, Ont.; Brianne Jenner, Oakville, Ont.; Sarah Nurse, Hamilton; Emily Clark, Saskatoon; Emma Maltais, Burlington, Ont.; Marie-Philip Poulin, Beauceville, Que.; Blayre Turnbull, Stellarton, N.S.; Kristin O’Neill, Oakville, Ont.; Sarah Potomak, Aldergrove, B.C.; Jamie Lee Rattray, Kanata, Ont.; Victoria Bach, Milton, Ont.
Head coach: Troy Ryan, Spryfield, N.S.
Assistant coaches: Kori Cheverie, New Glasgow, N.S.; Alison Domenico, Ottawa; Caroline Ouellette, Montreal.
Goaltending coach: Brad Kirkwood, Calgary.
Video coach: James Emery, Calgary.
The roster – three goaltenders, seven defence and 13 forwards – was selected by head coach Troy Ryan, in consultation with Gina Kingsbury, director of hockey operations, and Cherie Piper, senior manager of player development and scouting, along with the rest of the scouting and coaching staffs.
“It is unusual to play in a world championship and an Olympics in a single year, but this opportunity allows us to evaluate ourselves against the best in the world as we start our new four-year Olympic cycle,” said Kingsbury in a statement. “We are fortunate to have familiarity among our coaching staff and players who know what it takes to win.
“We had an extremely competitive camp and we believe we have assembled an experienced team that will give us the best chance to compete once again for a gold medal.”
The 10-team tournament features Canada in Group A with Finland, Japan, Switzerland and the United States, while Group B includes Czechia, host Denmark, Germany, Hungary and Sweden.
Canada opens the tournament against Finland on Aug. 25, and faces Switzerland on Aug. 27 and Japan on Aug. 28 before closing the preliminary round against its rivals from the United States on Aug. 30.
Prior to the start of women’s worlds, Canada will play a pair of pre-tournament games against Denmark on Aug. 20 and the United States on Aug. 23.
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