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Einarson, Homan, Jones clinch playoff spots in Tournament of Hearts



Manitoba, Ontario and the Jennifer Jones wild-card team secured playoff berths at the Canadian women’s curling championship Thursday.

Manitoba’s Kerri Einarson, Ontario’s Rachel Homan and six-time champion Jones separated themselves from the pack with two wins apiece on the first day of the championship round to get to 8-1.

The trio will jockey Friday for seedings in Saturday’s Page playoff. Einarson faces both Jones and Homan.

“Those two teams are playing really well also, so we’ll have to keep doing all the good things we’re doing,” Einarson said.

Northern Ontario’s Krista McCarville (6-3), Saskatchewan’s Robyn Silvernagle and Prince Edward Island’s Suzanne Birt (5-4) and defending champion Chelsea Carey and B.C.’s Corryn Brown (4-5) will scramble for the fourth and final playoff spot.

Three-time national champion Homan faces Silvernagle Friday afternoon and Einarson at night.

A top-two ranking at the end of play Friday is an advantage.

First and second meet in the Page playoff between the top two seeds with the winner advancing directly to Sunday’s final.

The loser drops to the semifinal to face the winner of the third and fourth seed in Sunday’s semifinal.

“We wouldn’t be happy just coming out and not playing well and limping into the three-four (playoff),” Homan said.

“That’s not what we want. We want to make sure we’re coming out and giving it our all and trying to win those games.”

Jones meets Einarson in an all-Manitoba matchup Friday afternoon and caps the championship round against McCarville.

Her rested wild-card team downed a depleted Silvernagle 8-3 on Thursday.

Homan doubled Carey 8-4, Einarson downed Birt 9-4 and McCarville edged Brown 7-6 in an extra end.

Silvernagle and B.C.’s Brown won morning tiebreakers Thursday to avoid elimination and then played back-to-back draws in the championship round.

Including the previous evening’s loss to Northern Ontario, the host province played in four straight draws.

“Your third game of the day, you’re definitely going to have both mental and physical fatigue,” Silvernagle said. “Especially when last night was maybe a five-hour sleep. We’re running on very little sleep.”

Jones shook hands after eight ends in an afternoon 10-5 win over Carey and again at night against the host province.

“We couldn’t ask to be in a better position than we are right now,” the skip said. “All in all feeling pretty good, but we’re playing some really tough teams, so we have to feel really good.”

Her team was stingy without last-rock advantage Friday, allowing the opposition to score two with the hammer in just three ends.

“It’s just trying to control the front of the house and the front of the tee line,” Jones said. “We’ve been making a lot of really good draws around some guards and making them make some really hard shots, which is the key to success really.

“You want them making harder shots than you.”

The championship round was incorporated into the format of the national women’s and men’s curling championship in 2018.

Instead of a straight round-robin in which each team plays all others, 16 teams are divided into two seven-game pools with eight emerging for the championship round.

Silvernagle beat New Brunswick’s Andrea Crawford 9-7 in a morning Pool A tiebreaker.

Brown locked up the last berth in Pool B with a 5-4 tiebreaker win over Nova Scotia’s Mary-Anne Arsenault.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 20, 2020.

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Emergency goalie given hero's welcome at 'David Ayres Day' in North Carolina – CTV News



Emergency backup goalie and hockey sensation David Ayres visited North Carolina on Tuesday to celebrate “David Ayres Day” in Raleigh and receive an honorary residency from the state for his show-stopping performance on the ice.

Ayres, a 42-year-old Zamboni driver from Whitby, Ont., joined the Carolina Hurricanes as an emergency goalie on Saturday night when both the team’s regular goalies left due to injury. Ayres made eight stops on 10 shots and helped the Hurricanes secure a 6-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

With the win, Ayres became the only emergency goalie to register an official win in the National Hockey League and became the oldest goalie to win in their NHL debut.

“They took my stick yesterday after the game and put it in the Hall of Fame because I broke a record there, which was cool,” Ayres told reporters on Tuesday. “I wasn’t expecting that.”

Since the win, Ayres has become an internet sensation and appeared on several national morning and late shows in the U.S. On Tuesday, Ayres recounted how he was walking onto the set of “Fox & Friends” while finishing up a telephone interview with another outlet.

“I had to ask a couple times: ‘Who am I talking to now?’ before I even went on because I didn’t have the itinerary in front of me,” he said.

Ayres arrived in Raleigh, where the city has declared Tuesday “David Ayres Day.” He’s scheduled to attend the Hurricanes home game Tuesday evening.

Ayres will be available for autographs before the game and will serve as the game’s “siren sounder,” a tradition at Hurricanes games where local celebrities turn a crank to set off a siren and pump up the fans in attendance.

“I can’t wait, this is going to be so much fun,” he said. “I just hope that I’m doing it right.”

The Hurricanes will be selling David Ayres shirts, with proceeds going to the Carolinas division of the National Kidney Foundation. Ayres received a kidney transplant in 2004.

“I want to make sure that everyone else knows that just because you have a kidney transplant or something like that, it’s not the end of the world,” Ayres said.

Ayres also hinted that he might be involved in the “storm surge,” a unique tradition where Hurricanes players celebrate home wins with funny and clever celebrations at centre ice.

In the past, the players have played basketball, tossed Halloween candy into the stands and brought famous boxer Evander Holyfield on to the ice for a pretend boxing match.

“I would be all over that, even if I had to slide like a penguin on the ice,” Ayres said.

North Carolina Governor Roy Cooper has also named Ayres an “honorary North Carolinian” on Tuesday. According to the official declaration, Ayres and the Hurricanes embodied the state’s motto of “to be rather than to seem” with “their resiliency on the way to a critical win in the playoff hunt.” 

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Leafs D Muzzin (hand) leaves game early – TSN



Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Muzzin left Tuesday night’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning in the third period with a hand injury, the team announced. 

 The 31-year-old left the game after blocking a shot with his hand, he had a goal in the game before exiting. 

The injury comes just one day after he signed a four-year contract extension. 

Muzzin was scheduled to become a free agent in July and carries a $4 million cap hit this season, the last of a five-year deal signed with Los Angeles in 2014. The extension will make Muzzin the Maple Leafs’ highest-paid defenceman next season, coming in ahead of Morgan Rielly, who carries a $5 million cap hit through 2021-22.

The 30-year-old has six goals and 23 points 53 games with the Maple Leafs this season while averaging 21:43 of ice time per game.

The Maple Leafs acquired Muzzin, a Stanley Cup winner in 2014, from the Kings for Carl Grundstrom, Sean Durzi and a 2019 first-round pick on Jan. 28, 2019.

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Hurricanes’ Gardiner on importance of how Carolina ‘dominated’ Maple Leafs – Sportsnet.ca



Even amid the madness of the 2020 trade deadline — one of the biggest events on the NHL calendar for fans, players and media alike — there was one story that managed to endure and outshine all the rest: the domination of Zamboni driver-turned-literal-winning-goaltender David Ayres.

While the focus on that 6-3 Hurricanes win over the Maple Leafs — the most recent game for both clubs — was on the undeniably wild story of Ayres being checked into the game and somehow emerging with a win, the real story was the play of the team in front of him.

Ayres checked into the game in the second period with a little over 28 minutes remaining in the tilt. While Toronto put two goals past him early, the ‘Canes defence then stifled their opponents, limiting them to just seven shots and zero goals in the third.

It’s that aspect of the performance that the Hurricanes find more telling. And for one ‘Cane in particular, it’s all the more impressive given his familiarity with the talent sprinkled throughout that Maple Leafs roster.

“It was almost, like, a turning point in our season,” said former Maple Leaf Jake Gardiner, who’s 61 games into his first season with Carolina after leaving Toronto in the off-season, according to NHL.com’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika. With that performance and the team’s trio of deadline pickups in tow, Carolina heads into the home stretch of 2019-20 in good shape, in Gardiner’s eyes.

“We know how we’re capable of playing. We played against a very, very skilled team and essentially dominated them. So now just picking up these three guys, it’s going to be good.”

Hurricanes GM Don Waddell emerged as one of the biggest winners of deadline day, swinging big to bring in talented pivot Vincent Trocheck, along with defenders Brady Skjei and Sami Vatanen — the latter two especially important given the loss of blue line stars Dougie Hamilton and Brett Pesce.

Even without the moves, though, the ‘Canes dramatic win over the Maple Leafs proved they can step up and grind out a victory even in the most extreme circumstances.

“I’m sure 98 per cent of people thought we were going to lose that game based off of the circumstances,” Gardiner said. “The fact that we came together and played like we did is obviously a good sign.”

Head coach Rod Brind’Amour weighed in on what the team can take from their high-profile win over Gardiner’s former club as well, and what it says about Carolina’s potential to raise their game come playoff time.

“If we can do it with a guy coming off an emergency basis, then there’s certainly no reason why you shouldn’t be able to play that way every night,” Brind’Amour told Cotsonika.

“I get it. There’s a lot of emotion involved, and it’s hard to duplicate that. But you certainly understand the blueprint, anyway.”

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