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Canadian Olympic men's soccer hopes dashed by Mexico in Tokyo qualifier – CBC.ca

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Canada faced a mammoth task in its bid for its first Olympic men’s soccer berth in nearly four decades — it needed to beat a Mexican powerhouse on their home soil, something no Canadian team has ever done.

Still, for 56 minutes, the dream looked within reach.

Then an unfortunate risky pass up the middle by goalie James Pantemis — who was outstanding throughout the tournament — led to a Mexican goal, putting Canada in a hole too deep to dig out of.

“I thought we had the tactics right, we were frustrating them, not really giving them the chances,” said Canadian coach Mauro Biello. “It’s unfortunate, we had to be perfect, you have to be perfect against a team like that.

“We lost to the best team in CONCACAF. And it was a fight.”

Uriel Antuna and Johan Vasquez scored to lift Mexico to a 2-0 victory over Canada in the do-or-die semifinals of the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship on Sunday.

Mexico, the Olympic gold medallists in 2012, clinched their 12th Olympic berth with the victory, while the Canadians, who haven’t played on the Olympic stage since 1984, must wait another three years.

WATCH | Canada loses in semis to Mexico:

Canada fell short of a spot at the Tokyo Olympics after losing 2-0 to Mexico at the CONCACAF Men’s Olympic Qualifying Championship. 1:23

Mexico capitalizes on long pass

Canada’s defence was excellent in keeping Mexico off the scoreboard before Mexico capitalized on Pantemis’s long pass up the middle to the foot of a Mexican player.

“For us to be in the game for that amount of time, and really managing them and frustrating them for a good period was very good,” Biello said. “And unfortunately, there was a an error that that cost us and changed a little bit the momentum.”

Antuna, a lethal striker who’s scored eight goals in 16 appearances for Mexico’s full national side, was open just inside the box and one-timed a pass past Pantemis.

“You can’t put anything on James, he’s been a rock the whole tournament,” said defender David Norman. “He kept us in the game against El Salvador, and he had four saves in the second half against Haiti that kept us in the game. So no, you can’t put anything on him.”

Mexico delivered more heartbreak in the 64th minute at Jalisco Stadium when Vasquez out-leapt Canadian defenders to get his head on a free kick.

“Disappointment, frustration,” said Norman, who normally plays midfield for Cavalry FC in the Canadian Premier League. “We had a game plan that the first half kind of went to script like we wanted it to. We had belief across the group, we really thought this was going to be the year we pushed Canada to the next level, and we had full belief that was gonna happen, so disappointed for sure.”

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Canada came into the tournament — which was postponed a year due to COVID-19 — 0-4-2 against Mexico at the under-23 level in Olympic qualifying since 1992. No Canadian men’s team has ever won a competitive match in Mexico.

The Canadians faced a steep climb in Guadalajara considering they were together for barely a week, Biello pointed out, and played four games in eight days while still in pre-season form.

“I give credit to a lot of those boys in that dressing room and they’re pretty disappointed right now,” Biello said.

Toronto FC’s recent COVID-19 outbreak threw a wrench into Biello’s team selection, as all nine player’s he’d had in his pool from the Major League Soccer team were unavailable.

Scary moments

Mexico outshot Canada 7-2 in the first half, including three on target, their first chance coming from a header off a corner kick in the 19th minute that sailed just wide of the net.

There were some scary moments midway through the first half when Pantemis appeared to hurt his right shoulder when he dove to deflect a shot from Antuna. Pantemis, a 24-year-old who plays for MLS side CF Montreal, grimaced in pain on the pitch for a couple of minutes but stayed in the game.

He was forced into action less than a minute later, diving to smother another attack from Antuna.

The half ended in a shoving match that brought Mexico’s substitutes off the bench.

Biello said he takes away numerous positives from the game, and singled out Lucas Dias, who had to isolate for nine days for health and safety protocols before the tournament, and defenders Norman and Zorhan Bassong.

The 18-year-old Dias, who plays in Lisbon for Sporting CP’s U23 squad, made his first start for Canada Sunday, and displayed his skills early on, dribbling through three Mexicans in the midfield before being fouled. Dias replaced previous team captain Derek Cornelius, who twisted a knee against Honduras and surely had a tough night watching from the bench.

Biello said Canada’s showing in Mexico bodes well for the national program.

“For sure from a performance standpoint, you want to make it to the Olympics, but the end in mind in this program is to have an alignment from the men’s national team all the way down,” Biellos said. “And for me, it was to build a foundation with the group and graduate some of these players to move on to the men’s national team. (But) yes, we’re disappointed.”

Canada had finished second in Group B behind Honduras on goal difference after the teams played to a 1-1 draw on Thursday. Mexico went undefeated to win Group A.

Canada’s senior squad, meanwhile, watched the game from Bradenton, Fla., and sent a good luck message via video. The Canadians were slated to play the Cayman Islands on Sunday, but the game was delayed a day due to issues with pre-match COVID-19 tests taken by the Cayman Islands delegation, which did not meet FIFA requirements.

Canada’s women, the two-time reigning Olympic bronze medallists, have already clinched their Tokyo berth.

Mexico will play Honduras in the tournament final. The Americans will miss their third consecutive Olympics after a 2-1 loss to Honduras in the other semifinal Sunday.

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Canadian medal hopefuls Humana-Paredes, Pavan start beach volleyball with easy win – CBC.ca

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Under a scorching sun, brilliant blue sky and temperatures that soared above 38 degrees Celsius at the Shiokaze Park in Tokyo, Canada’s dynamic beach volleyball duo of Sarah Pavan and Melissa Humana-Paredes wasted no time taking it to their Dutch opponents. 

The No. 1-ranked and defending world champions took a few minutes to get their footing in the golden sand at the venue, but when they did, they were a force to be reckoned with. 

Pavan and Humana-Paredes defeated the Netherlands duo of Katja Stam and Raisa School in straight sets (21-16, 21-14) on Saturday to open their Olympics. 

“I think today we made it clear that everything we’ve been working on has paid off,” Pavan said after the victory. “The three times we’ve played that team it’s gone down to the wire. Today we took care of it.”

The duo fell behind early to the Dutch, trailing 5-2 in the first set and looking somewhat frustrated. But after an end change Canada rallied, stringing together four straight points, the fourth a huge Pavan block at the net, to take a 6-5 lead.

She pumped her fist in the air before sharing a high-five with Humana-Paredes.

“Regardless of the empty stadium I was shaking like a leaf,” Humana-Paredes said. “I was so nervous and so excited and put on a brave face.”

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The team talked about needing to feed off one another’s energy on the court because they normally thrive on the crowd. So any chance they get to ignite one another here at the Olympics, they take full advantage of it. 

Thousands of blue seats around the venue sat empty because of COVID restrictions — a similar scene at every Olympic venue in Tokyo, still in a state of emergency.

WATCH | Pavan, Humana-Paredes win opener in straight sets:

Canada’s Melissa Humana-Paredes and Sarah Pavan opened their Tokyo 2020 beach volleyball campaign with a straight-sets (21-16, 21-14) win over the Netherlands’ Katja Stam and Raisa School. 5:34

The Canadians started to pull away slowly from the Dutch. Pavan’s 6-foot-5 frame was a huge advantage at the net, blocking another Dutch smash to make the score 14-10. 

The Dutch were visibly frustrated by Pavan’s daunting presence at the net and started making unforced errors. The Canadian duo then cruised to a 21-16 opening-set victory.

“We came out a little slow just getting used to the environment, nerves, excitement, everything. We settled in pretty quickly,” Pavan said. 

The Dutch weren’t about to go away too easily in the second set, going shot for shot with the Canadians. Canada mounted a 12-9 lead before a technical timeout for crews to rake the sand court.

Humana-Paredes then took her defensive game to a different level and at times was seemingly all over the court, digging up balls that seemed destined to touch sand. 

Pavan’s presence at the net continually frustrated the Canadians’ Dutch opponents. (AFP via Getty Images)

The experience, poise and power of the Canadians proved to be too much for the Dutch duo. Pavan and Humana-Paredes finished off the match winning the second set, 21-14. 

“Our game plan was on point. We executed our serving game very well and our defensive system. We were very prepared,” Pavan said. 

She finished with four block points and 11 attack points. 

One of the key strengths to Humana-Paredes and Pavan’s game is their ability to communicate. Because of the silent venue their strategy could be heard very clearly throughout the venue. They were constantly talking to one another and sharing information to each other and it slowly wore down the Dutch. 

WATCH | Pavan, Humana-Paredes headed for history:

On this week’s episode of Team Canada Today, we go behind the scenes at training while Andi Petrillo tells you all you need to know about Olympic beach volleyball. 7:57

“That’s something we’ve been working on and it’s a cornerstone of our team,” Humana-Paredes said. “Our communication on and off the court, we put so much work into that. Communication is what we always come back to.”

Pavan and Humana-Paredes now take on Germany in their second match of the tournament in Pool A. 

There are 24 teams competing at the women’s beach volleyball tournament, including another Canadian duo made up of Heather Barnsley and Brandie Wilkerson. They play China in their first game on Saturday night in Tokyo. 

There are six groups made up of four teams. The top two teams from each group advance, with four more joining them in the round of 16. Then that gets trimmed down to eight teams, four teams and then the gold medal game. 

That’s the game Pavan and Humana-Paredes are targeting and are off to a perfect start. 

“It’s such an honour to be here and surreal. It’s something I’ve dreamt of since I was a little girl. I just want to soak it all in.”

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Coyotes trade Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland to Canucks – Arizona Sports

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Oliver Ekman-Larsson #23 of the Arizona Coyotes during the NHL game against the Montreal Canadiens at Gila River Arena on October 30, 2019 in Glendale, Arizona. The Canadiens defeated the Coyotes 4-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

The Arizona Coyotes traded captain and defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson to the Vancouver Canucks, as well as forward Conor Garland, the team announced Friday.

Arizona Sports’ John Gambadoro first reported talks of the deal.

In return, the Coyotes will get forwards Jay Beagle, Loui Eriksson, Antoine Roussel and the 9th overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft that was used to select Dylan Guenther. Arizona also receives a 2022 second-round pick and a 2023 seventh-round selection.

“On behalf of the entire organization, I would like to thank Oliver for everything that he has done for the Coyotes the past 10 years,” Coyotes general manager Bill Armstrong said in a press release. “He is a tremendous player and person and we wish him and Conor the best of luck in the future.

“We are very pleased to acquire the ninth overall draft choice in this year’s NHL Draft along with Loui, Antoine and Jay. Loui and Jay are both Stanley Cup champions and along with Antoine, they are all solid veterans who will provide us with great leadership and experience.”

Ekman-Larsson, 30, has spent the entirety of his NHL career with the Coyotes after being selected sixth overall in the 2009 NHL Draft. The defenseman has 128 goals and 260 points over his Arizona career, for a total of 388 points.

Last season, Ekman-Larsson recorded three goals and 21 assists in 46 games. He has been the captain of the team for the last three seasons.

The Coyotes signed Ekman-Larsson to an eight-year, $66 million extension in the summer of 2018, a deal that has six more seasons left on it for $8.25 million each year. According to Gambadoro, Arizona will pay for roughly $1.2 million of that salary each of the next six years.

The 25-year-old Garland has been one of the Coyotes’ primary goal scorers in the previous two seasons. The winger had a team-high 22 goals in the 2019-20 season and 12 last season.

Garland is a restricted free agent this offseason.

Beagle, 35, had five points in 30 games last season while the 31-year-old Roussel contributed four points in 35 games. Lastly, the 36-year-old Eriksson played in only seven games.

Roussel is on an expiring deal worth $3 million next year, as are Beagle ($3 million) and Eriksson ($6 million).

The 2021 NHL Draft takes place on Friday.

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Sabres select Owen Power with No. 1 pick in 2021 NHL Draft – Sportsnet.ca

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The NHL draft turned Michigan maize and blue Friday night. And there’s a Hughes sibling reunion set to happen in New Jersey.

The Buffalo Sabres opened the draft by selecting Wolverines defenceman Owen Power with the top pick, and were immediately followed by the expansion Seattle Kraken choosing Michigan centre Matthew Beniers at No. 2. It marked the first time since 1969 that teammates went with the first two selections.

Three picks later, the Wolverines became college hockey’s first program to have three teammates go in the first round after the Columbus Blue Jackets selected Michigan winger Kent Johnson fifth.

“Extremely excited for Owen, Matty and their families. Its’ already a great night for Michigan Hockey. Go Blue,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson texted to The Associated Press after the Kraken made their selection.

That’s not all, however. Luke Hughes, who is committed to playing at Michigan, was chosen fourth overall by the the Devils, where the defenceman is united with brother Jack, who was the No. 1 pick in the 2019 draft.

Hughes watched the draft on his family’s living room couch with both of his NHL-playing brothers, rounded out by Quinn, who was selected seventh overall by Vancouver in 2018. Jack Hughes immediately jumped up and began hugging Luke upon hearing Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald announce the pick.

Ontario junior centre Mason McTavish was the only player without Michigan ties to round out the top five, after he was selected third overall by Anahiem.

The draft was held remotely for a second consecutive year due to the coronavirus pandemic, with commissioner Gary Bettman hosting the draft in New Jersey, where he introduced teams to make their selections from their home arenas.

On a day the Sabres traded Rasmus Ristolainen to the Philadelphia Flyers, general manager Kevyn Adams continued his offseason bid to overhaul a struggling franchise by choosing the stalwart defenceman’s heir apparent. Power is listed at six-foot-six and 213 pounds and was the NHL’s Central Scouting Bureau’s top-ranked North American prospect. After scoring three goals and adding 13 assists in 26 games during his freshman season at Michigan, the 18-year-old Power cemented his draft stock by helping Canada win the world hockey championships.

From Mississauga, Ontario, Power is leaning toward returning to school for his sophomore season, something Adams has said would not play a factor into his selection.

“Not thinking about it too much right now, trying to enjoy the night. That’s something I’ll worry about later,” Power said of his future, while surrounded by his family and friends in his backyard.

As for a message to Sabres fans, he said: “I’m super excited to be part of the franchise and ready to get going.”

Power was the third player drafted first directly out of college, joining Michigan State forward Joe Murphy in 1986 and Boston University goalie Rick DiPietro in 2000. And he became the 16th defenceman to go No. 1 since 1970, and first since the Sabres chose Rasmus Dahlin at No. 1 in 2018.

Power and Dahlin have similar two-way, play-making skills, and will have the opportunity to form the backbone of a retooled defensive unit for years to come.

Beniers was ranked sixth overall among North American prospects. He had 14 goals and 24 points in 24 games for the Wolverines.

In 1969, Rejean Houle and Marc Tardif were Montreal Junior Canadiens teammates, who were selected with the first two picks by Montreal. In 1963, Garry Monahan and St. Michael’s Juveniles teammate Peter Mahovlich were selected first and second.

The Sabres made a splash earlier by adding a second first-round pick, 14th overall, and defenceman Robert Hagg in dealing Ristolainen to Philadelphia.

The trade is part of Adams’ bid to rebuild through youth after Buffalo finished last in the overall standings for a fourth time in eight seasons and extended its playoff drought to an NHL record-matching 10th year.

The acquired pick from Philadelphia is actually 13th in the draft order after the NHL stripped the Arizona Coyotes of their first-round pick, 11th overall, for testing players in violation of league’s combine policy.

The Coyotes, however, moved back into the first round by acquiring the Canucks’ pick, ninth overall, in a five-player trade that sent Arizona captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson to Vancouver earlier in the day.

The first European players selected were from Sweden in back to back selections. Defenceman Simon Edvinsson went sixth to the Detroit Red Wings, followed by under-sized forward William Eklund, who was chosen seventh by the San Jose Sharks.

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