Early in the second half Monday, a ball went out near John Herdman and the Canadian coach instantly scooped it up and flipped it to one of his players to restart play — pronto.
Canada was leading the Cayman Islands 6-0 at the time. And Herdman wanted more.
He got it as a young Canada side ran up a record goal total, crushing the Cayman Islands part-timers 11-0 in World Cup qualifying play.
“The players showed they wanted to make a statement tonight,” said Herdman.
Canada is ranked 73rd in the world, 120 places above the Caymans. And the first-ever meeting between the two at the senior level quickly turned into a rout. For long stretches, it looked like a training game contested in the Caymans’ end.
WATCH | Canada sets new men’s national record with 11 goals:
Ruthless was the Canadian keyword.
“We had a couple of words on the board that we were really focusing on going into the game. Ruthlessness was the main one,” said fullback Alistair Johnson, who scored his first for Canada. “And I think this group really showed that.
“We wanted to make history out there. We wanted really to send a message to the rest of CONCACAF that we mean business. And I think we did that tonight.”
Johnston pointed to the lack of goal celebrations — although hat-trick hero Lucas Cavallini didn’t hold back when he banged heads with two-goal man Alphonso Davies after one score — as the Canadian players wanted to restart play as quickly as possible.
“It was ‘Hey, let’s get another one, let’s get another one,”‘ said Johnston. “I think that’s the mindset of a big team, a team that wants to do some things. I think it’s really exciting times for all of us Canadian footballers and for Canadian football fans right now.”
The Canadian men’s previous scoring record was 8-0 over the U.S. Virgin Islands in September 2018 in CONCACAF Nations League qualifying play. The previous high in World Cup qualifying was a 7-0 victory in St. Lucia in October 2011.
Eighteen games remain for the Canadian team if it is to make it to Qatar 2022. But midway though the first round of CONCACAF qualifying, it has set itself up for success in advancing to the next stage.
WATCH | Larin hat trick leads Canada past Bermuda:
Whether Canada can find the consistency it needs against the big teams in the region remains to be seen.
“These young men are going to learn on the job,” Herdman said.
Mark-Anthony Kaye also scored twice while Johnston, Frank Sturing, Cyle Larin and David Wotherspoon added singles for Canada, which led 4-0 after 27 minutes.
Sturing’s goal came five minutes into his Canadian debut. Wotherspoon and Kaye also opened their Canadian scoring accounts.
Cavallini, who could have had a hat trick last time out against Bermuda but had no luck in front of goal, upped his Canadian total to 14 with goals in the 68th, 74th and 76th minutes.
The Canadians showed no mercy at the IMG Academy, knowing that No. 141 Suriname had won its two first qualifying games with a plus-nine goal differential in CONCACAF’s Group B.
Canada (2-0-0) upped its goal difference to plus-15.
Canada opened its qualifying campaign with a 5-1 win over No. 169 Bermuda in Orlando last Thursday. The Caymans lost 3-0 Wednesday at Suriname, which improved to 2-0-0 with a 6-0 thumping of No. 200 Aruba on Saturday in Bradenton.
Next up for Canada is a June 5 match at Aruba and a June 8 home game against Suriname. Whether the team can play at home in June depends on whether the pandemic-related border restrictions are eased.
Monday’s beatdown means Canada can likely go into the final group match against Suriname, knowing a draw will suffice given the goal difference. Suriname only managed a 3-0 win over the Caymans.
WATCH | Canada looks to keep World Cup 2022 hopes alive:
Thirty CONCACAF countries have been split into six groups in the first round of qualifying in the region that covers North and Central America and the Caribbean. There is little room for error given only the six groups winners will advance.
Herdman, employing the kind of “Art of War” metaphor coaches favour, calls it a “death ground.”
Monday’s game was slated to be played Sunday but was pushed back so the Caymans delegation could undergo the PCR tests required by FIFA rather than rapid antigen tests originally taken.
Alfredo Whittaker, president of the Cayman Islands Football Association, said the testing problem occurred because of travel delays that disrupted the necessary COVID-19 protocols.
Herdman, rotating his squad against the CONCACAF minnow, made nine changes to the starting lineup that dispatched Bermuda.
Group B standings after the opening matches of Concacaf World Cup Qualifying.<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/CANMNT?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#CANMNT</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/WCQ?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#WCQ</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/Qatar2020?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#Qatar2020</a> <a href=”https://t.co/iTv4te2Pov”>pic.twitter.com/iTv4te2Pov</a>
Only Larin and Davies retained their starting spots. Midfielder Samuel Piette wore the captain’s armband for the first time, taking over for Atiba Hutchinson, who has returned to Turkey to rejoin club team Besiktas.
Maxime Crepeau started in goal, with Milan Borjan returning to Red Star Belgrade. He could have taken a cup of coffee and newspaper out on the field because he had nothing to do.
At the other end, Canada fired 44 shots, including 16 on target.
Canada’s starting 11 had a combined cap count of just 144, with 118 of those coming from Piette (51) Larin (33), Davies (19) and Kaye (15). Six of the seven other starters have single-digit caps.
Ferreira, Sturing earn first caps
Ricardo Ferreira and Sturing started at centre back, earning their first Canadian caps in the process. Winger Theo Corbeanu and Johnston made their first starts — and second appearances — for Canada.
Davies, who had started further up front against Bermuda, returned to the fullback role he fills at Bayern Munich but moved up the pitch later in the game.
The Caymans’ defensive block was breached quickly with 21-year-old Caymans goaltender Albertini Holness finding himself in a shooting gallery.
Cameron Gray gave the Caymans something to celebrate when he nutmegged Davies early in the second half. And the Caymans managed to slow the Canadian attack to open the second half, holding them off the scoreboard for the first 18 minutes.
But the scoring spree resumed with goals in the 63rd, 68th, 73rd, 74th and 76th.
Monday’s game was officially a home game for the Caymans. But the three-island group with a population of some 63,000 has the same 14-day quarantine as Canada so opted to shift the site to Bradenton where the Canadian men had held a camp in January.
The Caymans have enjoyed some success under 31-year-old English coach Ben Pugh, a former academy coach at Ipswich Town. They won four of six League C matches in the CONCACAF Nations League in 2019, including a 3-2 victory over No. 162 Barbados.
Whittaker said the Caymans roster included a number of “key players” from its youth sides and “a handful of players that we called experienced players that are 24, 25, 26.”
“You can only play what’s in front of you,” said Herdman.
Boston Bruins Add Offense With Solid Taylor Hall Trade – Boston Hockey Now
The Boston Bruins clearly understood they had serious deficiencies on their NHL roster this season and credit them for going and doing something about it.
The B’s finished off their Sunday night fireworks ahead of the NHL trade deadline by sending a second round pick and Anders Bjork to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for top-6 winger Taylor Hall and bottom-6 forward Curtis Lazar. TSN’s Darren Dreger, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman and ESPN’s John Buccigross were the first to report about the completed deal between the Bruins and Buffalo Sabres in the hours following the B’s getting stomped by the Washington Capitals, 8-1, at TD Garden.
— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) April 12, 2021
The Buffalo Sabres retained half of the $8 million salary that Hall signed for prior to the start of the 2021 hockey season.
After acquiring Hall @ 50% & Lazar for Bjork, the #NHLBruins added $772K Cap Hit for remainder of year.
They have $24K of Projected Cap Space; $100K Annual Cap Hit that can be added, w/ 24 Active on Roster. Sending players to taxi would create more room.https://t.co/2o0hsHzUIy https://t.co/rXiRKKk3lt pic.twitter.com/I7ZRUSmSQp
— PuckPedia (@PuckPedia) April 12, 2021
The 29-year-old Hall is having a terrible season in Buffalo with just two goals and 19 points in 37 games along with a minus-21 rating after he chose to sign a one-year deal with the Sabres during the offseason. But he brings legitimate offensive talent as a former No. 1 overall pick and Hart Trophy winner to a Boston Bruins team that’s ranked in the bottom third of the NHL offensively all season.
The Bruins were one of the suitors for Hall prior to him choosing the Sabres months ago, and now they get him for a deep discount while keeping their own first round picks after making their deadline deals.
Holding onto their own first round pick was a priority for Boston Bruins GM Don Sweeney after spending first rounders at the deadline in two of the last three deadlines in trades for damaged goods Rick Nash and Ondrej Kase.
The 26-year-old Lazar has five goals and 11 points in 33 games as a bottom-6 forward for the Sabres this season and is signed for $800,000 for next season. It seemed clear that something was going on with the 24-year-old Anders Bjork over the last couple of weeks as he was a healthy scratch for five straight games, including Sunday night against Washington, and heads to Buffalo hoping to further develop a game built on speed and skill level that hasn’t translated into offense as of yet.
Hall should fit right into the top-6 with the Bruins as a skilled winger for playmaking center David Krejci, but it remains to be seen how he’s going to fit as another left winger on a team with Nick Ritchie and Jake DeBrusk.
Either Ritchie or DeBrusk is going to have to play the off wing with a Krejci/Hall combo, but that’s a problem that Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy will gladly figure out after being forced to piece together lineups all season due to injuries and offensive inconsistency. With the acquisition of Hall, Lazar and left-handed defenseman Mike Reilly on Sunday night, it would appear the Boston Bruins are largely done with deals ahead of Monday’s NHL trade deadline.
Interestingly enough, the Boston Bruins are set to play the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night at TD Garden.
Drouin must return to mentality that’s led to success this season – Sportsnet.ca
It was something Dominique Ducharme said after his Montreal Canadiens played an abysmal game against the Ottawa Senators last week, something that only truly resonated after they lost 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday — a game that emboldened the struggle Jonathan Drouin’s currently enduring.
“Ninety per cent of the mistakes we made were mental, and the rest of it was above our shoulders.” the coach said after the 6-3 loss to Ottawa last Saturday, somewhat channelling New York Yankees legend Yogi Berra with this bit of wit and wisdom.
It was hard not to think of those words watching Drouin play the way he did on Wednesday. For much of this season, the talented left winger has played a primary role in Montreal’s success. He’s led them with 19 assists, been tenacious on the forecheck, physically engaged all over the ice, cerebral as always in his execution and, as he’s said on several occasions, relatively unconcerned by whether or not his name has been featured on the scoresheet.
But it seemed clear, after watching Drouin dump a breakaway into Jack Campbell’s chest with one of 32 shots the Maple Leafs goaltender turned aside to set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win, he had diverted from that. And that affected the way he played the rest of the game.
It was Drouin’s fifth in a row without a point, his 18th without a goal, and he’d have to be a robot not to be suffering the mental wear of not seeing the puck go in more than twice since the season started, the torment of seeing only three per cent of his shots hit the back of the net through 36 games after 10 per cent of them resulted in goals through the first 348 games of his career.
“It is weighing on me where, when I have a chance and miss the goal, I might be trying to score too much,” Drouin said. “It’s something I obviously think about — every player would — and I’ve just gotta put it past me and just keep shooting pucks.”
Ideally, the 26-year-old wouldn’t be thinking about any of this. These are thoughts that weigh a player down and right now the Canadiens are in tough without Brendan Gallagher for the rest of the season and Drouin needs to be light and free to help account for that loss. And in order for him to do that, he needs to focus on what he does best.
Because the reality is that even though Drouin can score more, scoring isn’t what he needs to do in order to be at his best and really help this team.
“When his feet are moving and he’s making plays, Drou’s a pass-first guy,” explained Jake Allen, who made 29 saves in Carey Price’s absence. “When his feet are moving, his head’s always in it. When his feet are moving, he’s controlling the play, controlling the puck. He’s a guy who really can control the play for a whole line. You want the puck on that guy’s stick and let the other guys do the dirty work and he’ll find them.”
But when Drouin’s feet aren’t moving, there just isn’t enough of that other stuff happening.
When Drouin’s feet weren’t moving, he lost a battle for the puck in the offensive zone and allowed the NHL’s leading goal scorer to start the rush that resulted in the winning play of Wednesday’s game.
Auston Matthews to Mitch Marner, back to Matthews, off Allen and slammed into Montreal’s net by Zach Hyman with 9:39 remaining in the third period, with Drouin watching from just inside his own blue line.
“You give a 3-on-2 to the Matthews line and it’s the kind of play they’re going to make you pay on,” said Ducharme.
Was Drouin still thinking about that shot he didn’t bury in the second period?
It’s understandable if he was, but those are the kind of thoughts he needs to shake right now.
“He wants to do well, and I’m sure it’s getting a little bit in his head,” said Ducharme. “I think the best remedy for him is to be scoring that goal or making that big play, and I think he’s going to be energized by that and less thinking, more acting.
“It is a fine line. Those kind of thoughts is not something that you want to happen. But when you receive that puck and you see the opening and stuff, (the slump) comes back to (your mind). That’s why the mental part of the game is something that’s very tricky. It’s not his will to be thinking that way. Every player who’s going through a time like that will have that thought and scoring that goal will take him to a different level. At those kind of times you need to make it even simpler and being even more inside going at the net and finding a garbage (goal) right there and you put it in and sometimes you go on a little run. It might be that kind of goal that he needs to get that monkey off his back.”
It’s the kind of goal Corey Perry scored twice to give the Canadiens a chance in this game.
But Drouin isn’t Perry, who rightly pointed out after the game he’s made a career of scoring goals that way. And even if Drouin can borrow from what Perry does next time he has a chance like the one Brett Kulak set him up with for that breakaway, there are other ways he can positively impact the game.
You can appreciate that Drouin said he’s putting pressure on himself to score more and help make up for the goals the team will be missing with Gallagher sidelined, but that might not get him to where he needs to be mentally to contribute as much as he already has this season.
What would, though, is a sharp turn towards the mentality he described just days ago. The one that’s enabled him to be a much more consistent player this season than he has in seasons past.
“When I was younger, I’d stay on one game or stay on one play for too long and wouldn’t be able to let it go for a bit or a couple of days,” Drouin said. “But I think for me now it’s can I look at myself in the mirror after a game and did I give my good effort? Was I a part of this game? Was I doing something right in a lot of areas?
“That’s what I do now. I think points are there, goals are there, assists are there, but it’s just about playing that real game and playing to help your team win.”
Drouin’s done a lot of that this season and has a chance to get right back to it when the Winnipeg Jets visit the Bell Centre Thursday.
Scioscia to lead U.S. baseball bid for spot at Tokyo Olympics
(Reuters) – Mike Scioscia, who won World Series both as a player and manager, was named manager of the U.S. men’s national baseball team on Tuesday, as they seek a spot at the Tokyo Olympics.
After 19 seasons as manager of the Anaheim Angels, guiding them to their only World Series win in 2002, Scioscia will make his international coaching debut in June when the United States hosts the Baseball Americas Qualifier in Florida.
For the tournament the U.S. will be grouped with the Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, and Nicaragua in Pool A while Canada, Colombia, Cuba, and Venezuela will make up Pool B.
The top two teams from each pool will advance to the Super Round, where the country with the best overall record will earn a spot in the Tokyo Olympic tournament.
Second and third-place finishers will advance to a final qualifier, joining Australia, China, Taiwan, and the Netherlands.
“Mike’s tenure with the Angels’ franchise was nothing short of spectacular, creating and celebrating a culture of success with six division titles, an American League pennant, and its first-ever World Series title,” said USA Baseball Executive Director/CEO Paul Seiler in a statement. “More impactfully, his leadership, integrity, and character are unparalleled in our game, making him the perfect fit for the USA Baseball family.”
The Olympic tournament will take place from July 28-Aug. 7 in Fukushima City and Yokohama.
Hosts Japan, Israel, South Korea, and Mexico have already secured a berth in the six-team field.
(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto. Editing by Toby Davis)
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