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Einarson defends Scotties title with win over Homan – TSN

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CALGARY — Kerri Einarson’s second Canadian women’s curling championship was very different from her first.

Einarson didn’t throw her last stone Sunday in a 9-7 win over Ontario’s Rachel Homan in Calgary, in contrast to her nail-biting last draw to beat Homan in an extra end last year in Moose Jaw, Sask.

Einarson and her teammates also celebrated Sunday in the silence in an empty arena without applause and adulation of spectators because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

But the skip insists it still felt sweet to repeat.

“It means the absolute world to be able to repeat,” Einarson said. “It’s something that is very hard to do.”

Einarson, third Val Sweeting, second Shannon Birchard and lead Briane Meilleur from Manitoba’s Gimli Curling Club were the first to claim back-to-back titles at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts since Homan in 2013 and 2014.

Homan has lost three straight Hearts finals going back to 2019 when her team lost in an extra end to Chelsea Carey in Sydney, N.S.

Einarson had a better feel for ice conditions Sunday than Homan, who is pregnant and due in April.

“I’m unbelievably proud of these girls for battling all week and sticking with me and doing all the extra stuff I couldn’t do,” Homan said. “We had a chance right to the end, but it didn’t go our way.

“I pushed as hard as I could and went as far as we were able to go as a team. It was a phenomenal team effort to make this happen this week.”

Einarson controlled most of the game leading 5-3 after five ends and 7-4 after seven.

But Homan scored a point in the eighth and stole two in the ninth to tie it coming home.

Einarson lay two in the rings when Homan’s attempted freeze slid too deep into the rings.

“Definitely felt extremely weird not being able to run and hug my girls and my parents and family and friends,” Einarson said.

Einarson retains the Maple Leaf as Team Canada for the 2022 national championship in Thunder Bay, Ont., and picked up $100,000 in first-place prize money.

Einarson faces the prospect of missing out on a women’s world championship again.

The World Curling Federation cancelled the March 20-28 tournament in Schaffhausen, Switzerland, because the local Swiss health authority would not support it in a global pandemic.

Einarson and her teammates had arrived in Prince George, B.C., for the 2020 world championship when it was called off.

The WCF pulled the plug Feb. 8 on this year’s championship. An announcement has yet to be made on whether it will be rescheduled to another date and location.

“My husband said to me before I came here ‘you could be the first person to not go to worlds and win twice,'” Einarson said.

“I don’t know. Hopefully something can happen for us.”

Einarson beat Alberta’s Laura Walker 9-3 in the afternoon semifinal to earn a championship showdown with Homan.

Walker eliminated six-time champion Jennifer Jones of Manitoba with a 9-8 win in a morning tiebreaker.

Homan earned prize money of $60,000 as the runner-up. Walker collected $40,000 for third place.

The Hearts was the first of four Curling Canada events shifted to a spectator-free, controlled environment at WinSport’s Markin MacPhail Centre in an effort to have a season and get curling on TSN.

The Canadian men’s championship starts Friday, followed by national mixed doubles and the men’s world championship April 3-11.

Two Grand Slam events, which are Rogers Sportsnet’s properties, are planned for later in April.

Tourism Calgary predicts the six curling events in Calgary will inject $11 million into the local economy.

The Hearts was the first test of the curling bubble. No positive tests for the virus were reported as of Sunday.

“I think it went really smoothly. It felt good to be out there doing what we love,” Sweeting said. “Even though there were no fans, it was still special for us.”

Teams arrived in Calgary with a few games played this winter, and depending on pandemic restrictions in their region, not much practice time at their local clubs.

Homan lacked ice time to adapt her stone delivery to her changing body before arriving in Calgary.

“Can we talk for a second about skipper over here?” Homan’s third Emma Miskew said. “Unbelievable you curled that well. It’s just amazing.”

Ontario also incorporated lineup changes on the fly at the Hearts.

Homan dropped longtime lead Lisa Weagle last year for Wilkes to play second, and shifted Joanne Courtney to lead.

They didn’t have the benefit of 50 games to re-establish chemistry and communication.

Einarson’s advantage was an unchanged lineup from the team that bested Homan a year earlier.

Birchard and Meilleur both posted shooting percentages higher than counterparts Wilkes and Courtney in Sunday’s final.

Einarson, Sweeting and Birchard were named to the tournament’s first all-star team at their positions with Manitoba lead Weagle breaking up an Einarson sweep.

Homan, Wild Card One third Selena Njegovan, Manitoba second Jocelyn Peterman and Courtney were second-team all-star picks.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 28, 2021.

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Tokyo 2020: Canada wins first medal after swimming to silver in women's 4×100 freestyle relay – CP24 Toronto's Breaking News

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The Canadian Press


Published Saturday, July 24, 2021 10:55PM EDT


Last Updated Saturday, July 24, 2021 10:55PM EDT

TOKYO — Canada has its first medal of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics after the women’s 4×100 freestyle relay team raced to silver.

Penny Oleksiak and Kayla Sanchez of Toronto, Margaret Mac Neil of London, Ont., and Rebecca Smith of Red Deer, Alta., finished in a time of three minutes 32.78 seconds as Canada picked up a medal in the event for a second straight Games.

Australia won gold in a world-record time of 3:29.69, while the United States finished third in 3:32.81.

Oleksiak swam the anchor leg and narrowly beat out American Simone Manuel at the wall.

Canada’s women are looking to duplicate the success they had in the pool at the 2016 Rio Games, where they picked up six medals.

Earlier on Sunday, Mac Neil also advanced to Monday morning’s 100-metre butterfly final. The 21-year-old world champion in the event posted the sixth-fastest time in the semifinals.

An hour after qualifying for the butterfly final, Mac Neil drew into the relay lineup for Taylor Ruck who swam the heat for Canada. The women posted the third-fastest time in the preliminaries.

Sanchez led off the final followed by Mac Neil and Smith with Oleksiak bringing the team home.

Oleksiak and Ruck won a pair of freestyle relay bronze medals as 16-year-olds in Rio de Janeiro five years ago.

They teamed with Sandrine Mainville and Chantal Van Landeghem in the 4 x 100 to win Canada’s first medal of the 2016 Summer Olympics.

Oleksiak also swam the anchor leg in Rio.

Canada’s women aim for the podium in all three relays in Tokyo after earning three bronze at the world championship in Gwangju, South Korea two years ago.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 24, 2021.

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The Edmonton Oilers select big German defender Luca Munzenberger at #90 overall – Edmonton Journal

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The Edmonton Oilers trading down on Day #1 of the NHL draft was converted not 24 hours later into Defenceman Luca Munzenbeger.

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Gotta love the name! Munzenberger is an 18-year old out of Dusseldorf, Germany. He has a late (November) 2002 birth date.

He’s a big, left-handed shot at 6’3, 194 LBS.

Munzenberger spent the majority of 2020-21 with Kolner Junghaie of the DNL U20. In 6 games he went 1-2-3 and served as Team Captain. His time in junior versus pro left open the door for him to play in college. Munzenberger also played for Team Germany at the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton (0-0-0 in 5GP). More on that in a minute…

Munzenberger is considered to be an excellent PK man, but possesses a big shot which makes him a threat from the point as well. Scouts say he has a soft set of hands and makes an effective first-pass out of his own zone. Those who have seen him play, namely amateur scout Brock Otten, describe the kid as a “suffocating physical defender” with a mean streak. He’s an above-average skater for his size with a massive stride and a big wingspan. He’s effective at clearing the slot and his reach helps him get to pucks ahead of attackers. In my own viewing of his highlights from the WJC’s, Munzenberger closes quickly and effectively on the opposition along the walls. The foot-speed, reach and size are visibly key tools in his ability to break up the cycle.

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A side note from that tournament that may indicate the quality of his intangibles: Munzenberger was in COVID quarantine at the very beginning ot the WJ’s, but emerged from that status prior to Christmas and rebounded with a strong performance. That would seem to speak to the kid’s resilience. The young man in a foreign country responded to a stressful situation and considerable uncertainty extremely well.

Draft analyst Steve Kournianos says of him: “A big bodied vacuum cleaner on defence… He has ideal size but the mobility and agility to cover faster players… He plays a mean, physical brand of hockey and can be considered a throwback… He has soft hands and delivers clean passes to any area in the offensive zone, but what makes Munzenberger dangerous is his lethal shot — he owns a bomb of a shot, not only for its velocity but for the sheer power he generates with little backswing. His wrister is just as nasty.”

It is fair to consider this pick as somewhat “off the board”. Elite Prospects had him at #214. No other service had him listed at all. One wonders if fellow countryman Leon Draisaitl had and offered any insight on the player to the Oilers draft team? He and his father surely know of every sharp prospect in that nation.

Munzenberger is committed to NCAA University of Vermont in 2022-23 which offers another interesting tidbit. Todd Woodcroft is the coach of that program, the brother of Bakersfield Condors bench boss Jay Woodcroft.  So, there may well be some added insight from that connection.

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Montreal Canadiens select Joe Vrbetic with 214th pick – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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After a very long day, the Montreal Canadiens final picks are finally upon us, with 214th overall being up first. The Habs acquired this pick after trading out of an earlier round, and with this pick the team selected Joe Vrbetic from OHL’s North Bay Battalion.

Elite Prospects

Unfortunately like many other prospects in the OHL, Vrbetic was not able to play this year due to the Covid pandemic. In his last full season he posted a 4.23 goals against, an .881 save percentage along with a 14-25-1 record on a dreadful North Bay team that won just 17 out of 62 games.

The Habs have the penultimate pick in the draft at 223rd overall this year coming up.

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