Dale Hunter finally got to be a part of the world junior roller coaster ride.
He wants more of it.
“Oh, yeah,” the Canadian coach said after a dramatic 6-4 tournament-opening victory over the United States Thursday in Ostrava. “Right now, a lead’s never safe. I’ll tell you that. Whoever has the break and buries at the right time (wins).”
Hunter made the right call when he put Alexis Lafreniere on the ice after the Americans rallied to tie it late. The Quebec league star played the hero role.
But one of Hunter’s two London Knights on the team, sniper Connor McMichael, scored Canada’s first goal of the tournament.
“It was awesome to see him get his first world junior win,” the Capitals first-rounder said. “It was a dream to play in a game like that. I hope we can keep it rolling.”
Canada picked Dale Hunter to be its coach for his track record as the third-winningest coach in OHL history. But it was also because of his calm demeanour behind the bench, something he didn’t always display in his 19-year NHL career.
It was evident the Canadian players were anxious early, but they figured it out in time to storm back and, eventually, gutted out an emotional victory.
“It’s nice playing a game,” Hunter said. “We’ve been playing exhibitions and practising. The kids just wanted to play. It’s not just our kids. It’s every team. They’re eager. They’re kids and they want to play meaningful games. (The first two — Czech-Russia and Canada-U.S.), they were.”
MATCHING UP: Scott Sandelin has been entrusted to keep USA Hockey’s record streak of four straight world junior medals alive. Starting 0-1, it will be a major achievement to finish on top of a difficult pool now. The 55-year-old Minnesotan matched wits with Hunter Thursday and will test himself against Russian kingpin Valeri Bragin Sunday. “They’re great coaches,” Sandelin said. “For me, I probably don’t consider that yet. I’m honoured to be the coach of this team and be a part of this tournament. It’ll be fun to learn some things from the way do things, too, within a game.” Sandelin need not sell himself short. He’s on a tremendous run at one of the better programs in the U.S. college ranks. His Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs have won the past two NCAA titles and three in the last decade.
PLAYING COY: On Thursday morning, Dale Hunter wouldn’t reveal his starting goaltender. He went with Guelph Storm goalie Nico Daws in the opener, but hasn’t even talk much about them on an individual basis. “Our goalies have been sharp through the whole process,” he said. “It’s not an easy choice, which is a good thing. They deserve to be here. They played well and you have to give the kids credit because they’re battlers. That’s what you want in this type of competition.” In other words, be ready. The No. 1 goaltender title was up for grabs all season and that’s how Daws became a candidate in the first place. Only the Canadian goaltenders went on the ice in the morning. The rest of the team didn’t skate. It paid off. Canada won and the Americans, who did use their ice time, lost.
SEASON OF GIVING: Every Canadian player opened one Christmas present on Wednesday. “We handed out gifts (as a team),” defenceman Ty Smith, the New Jersey prospect and Spokane Chiefs captain, said. “You didn’t buy one for a certain guy. You just bought a gift and you picked one, so you get what you get. I ended up with a bag of snacks, which was pretty good.” Smith, as a returning player, is one of the ties that bind Canada’s blue line. He played on the team last year. He and big Kevin Bahl are both Devils prospects and he even has a long-time connection the Senators first-rounder Jacob Bernard-Docker, the only U.S. college player on the Canadian team. “We played together in the Brick (atom invitational summer) tournament when we were nine or 10,” the Lloydminster, Sask., native recalled. Their team lost in the semifinal to Toronto Pro, which featured Canadian teammate Akil Thomas. “He was the tournament MVP,” Smith said with a grin. “We’ve heard it a few times (the last few weeks).”
CROWD ADVANTAGE: Though Canada’s pre-tournament games were played largely in front of nobody, the atmosphere at Ostravar Arena on Boxing Day — if sustained — will make for an energetic and electric tournament. The attendance for two premiere games — Czech-Russia and Canada-U.S. — was at near capacity and it was a loud and knowledgeable gathering. The Czechs, obviously, have the most support but Canada is well-represented, too. There are hundreds of Canadians who made the trip, many in large travel groups, to cheer the red-and-white and sample the Czech culture the next two weeks. There wasn’t a lot of rooting for the Americans, who, like the Russians, will have to generate their own momentum here.
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Canada's Summer McIntosh, 15, wins 2nd gold medal at world aquatics – CBC Sports
Summer McIntosh of Kelowna, B.C., capped a sensational week of swimming on Saturday, becoming the first Canadian with two victories and four medals at a single world championship.
The 15-year-old lowered her junior record time to four minutes 32.04 seconds in the women’s 400-metre individual medley on Saturday in Budapest, Hungary. Earlier this week, she also set world junior marks in the 200 butterfly (gold) and 400 freelstyle (silver) while earning freestyle relay bronze in the 200.
‘”This is a dream come true,” McIntosh gushed to the crowd in the post swim on-deck interview. At 15 years 311 days, she is the second-youngest winner of the women’s 400 IM behind Tracy Caulkins of the United States, who was 15 years 224 days in her 1978 win in West Berlin.
McIntosh took the lead early in Saturday’s race and waged a battle with American Katie Grimes, who touched the wall in 4:32.67 for her second silver of these worlds after placing second in the 1,500. Teammate Emma Weyant, the 2020 Olympic silver medallist, earned bronze in 4:36.00.
“It’s really cool to race someone like Katie as she is around my age and she’s a really tough competitor,” said McIntosh, who clocked 4:34.86 on April 9 at Canadian trials. “So I’m looking forward to racing her and keep pushing myself.”
WATCH | McIntosh holds off American Katie Grimes for 4th world medal:
Katinka Hosszu of Hungary had her streak of consecutive world titles in the 400 medley halted at four as she finished fourth in 4:37.89. The 33-year-old has won the race five times in her last seven appearances at worlds and still holds the world record of 4:26.36 and 4:29.33 championship mark from 2016 and 2017, respectively.
Canada’s women wrapped up the competition with bronze in the 100 medley relay, matching their result from 2019 worlds.
Kylie Masse, Rachel Nicol, Maggie Mac Neil and anchor Penny Oleksiak stopped the clock in 3:55.01, behind the Americans (3:53.78) and Australia (3:54.25). It was Nicol’s first world medal while Oleksiak broke a tie with Masse with her ninth career medal at the event, all in the relay.
“‘It’s obvious at this point I wouldn’t be here without the team, so it feels weird to claim that title on my own,” Oleksiak told Swimming Canada of her success. ”I feel really lucky to be part of Team Canada.”
WATCH | Oleksiak sets Canadian record for most medals at aquatics worlds:
Three years ago, Sydney Pickrem, Masse, Mac Neil and Oleksiak posted a time of 3:53.58 in Gwangju, South Korea.
Saturday’s relay bronze was the national record-extending 11th medal — three gold, four silver, four bronze — for Canada at these worlds after it surpassed the mark of eight at a single world championships from 2019 on Friday.
McIntosh only led Grimes by 9-100ths of a second through 50 metres but was 62-100ths ahead midway through the backstroke leg and under world-record pace through 200 metres, in front by 1.33 seconds.
WATCH | McIntosh captures gold in 400m IM:
3 top-10 finishes in Olympic debut
Hosszu gained ground in the breaststroke and moved into third spot at the 250-metre mark, with McIntosh holding a 2.15-second advantage over Grimes. But Weyant overtook Hosszu for bronze position through 300 metres and stayed there while Grimes closed to within 98-100ths of McIntosh with 50 metres remaining.
“It’s surreal” <br><br>Summer McIntosh continues the legacy of her mom, Jill, in the 200m butterfly at <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/FINABudapest2022?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#FINABudapest2022</a> <a href=”https://t.co/V56I5WGqAn”>https://t.co/V56I5WGqAn</a> <a href=”https://t.co/U3meUDIMkE”>pic.twitter.com/U3meUDIMkE</a>
Last summer, a 14-year-old McIntosh was the youngest member of the Canadian Olympic team in Tokyo but certainly didn’t show her age on the world’s grandest athletic stage.
WATCH | McIntosh swims to world silver in 400m freestyle:
She placed fourth in the 400 free, at that point lowering the Canadian record twice. She was ninth in the 200 free and 11th in the 800 free, setting a national age group record. McIntosh was also part of the 200 relay squad that finished fourth in national record time, while her opening-leg swim broke the Canadian age group record.
At national trials two months ago in Victoria, McIntosh turned heads by winning four events and swimming the 400 free in the third-fastest time this year.
WATCH | McIntosh wins world 200m butterfly semifinal in junior record time:
In the women’s medley relay, the Americans were favoured for gold while the Swedish foursome of Hanna Rosvall, Sophie Hansson, Louise Hansson and Sarah Sjoestroem were the fastest in qualifying in 3:56.77.
Masse, who fell short of the 200 backstroke podium on Friday in her bid for a third medal in Hungary, got the Canadians off to a quick start with the second-fastest reaction time at 0.54 and led Regan Smith of the U.S. for top spot through 50 metres and by 1-100th at the end of the leg.
Nichol took over in backstroke and fell off the pace, trailing the Americans 1.27 seconds. Mac Neil fell behind by 1.51 halfway through the butterfly and by 1.40 when anchor Penny Oleksiak entered the pool for the free.
Trademark finishing kick
Canada’s most decorated Olympian ever was unable to close the gap in the first half of her leg but managed to draw closer near the wall and finished 1.23 seconds off the winning time.
WATCH | Canada reaches podium in women’s medley relay:
Masse, who won gold in the 50 backstroke and silver in the 100 earlier this week, is tied for second with Ryan Cochrane with eight career medals.
“It’s always special to be part of a relay team,” said Masse, based at HPC-Ontario. “It’s nice to be doing it more than just yourself and that always pushes me.”
The American quartet of Lilly King, Torri Huske, Claire Curzan and Smith proved too strong for the rest of the field.
“We take a lot of pride in that relay and really wanted to put in a good time and get that gold back from last summer [ at the Olympics]. We came out and did that, and it was a great race,” said Curzan, who anchored the U.S. home.
On Friday, the 22-year-old Oleksiak provided her trademark finishing kick in the mixed 100 relay, overtaking Curzan to push Canada to a silver medal with a national record time of 3:20.61. All eight of her medals (two silver, six bronze) have come in the relay.
WATCH | Oleksiak anchors Canada to mixed relay silver medal:
Oleksiak was fourth in the women’s 100 freestyle on Thursday, reaching the finish an agonizing 6-100ths behind bronze medallist Huske. The Toronto native won gold in the event at the 2016 Rio Olympics and placed fourth last summer in Tokyo.
WATCH | Oleksiak narrowly misses bronze in 100m freestyle:
Mollie O’Callaghan won Thursday’s competition before anchoring the Australian medley relay team to silver two days later.
In the men’s 4×100 medley relay, Canada’s Javier Acevedo, James Dergousoff, Joshua Liendo and Ruslan Gaziev swam to 11th in the preliminaries in 3:35.62.
Liendo led all Canadian men this week with bronze in the 100 free and 100 fly and silver in the mixed 100 free relay.
WATCH | Liendo bursts to bronze in 100m butterfly:
American Ress awarded backstroke gold after review
Justin Ress of the United States won gold in the 50 backstroke in dramatic circumstances after officials overturned his initial disqualification following a lengthy review.
Victory was earlier awarded to compatriot Hunter Armstrong after it was ruled that no part of Ress’s body was above the water as he reached first for the wall.
Ress, who had set the pace in the heats and the semifinals, was later reinstated as the winner and the medal ceremony held again, with Armstrong taking silver and Polish teenager Ksawery Masiuk having to settle for bronze.
In other action:
- Gregorio Paltrinieri, gold medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, set a new championship record in the 1,500 freestyle, comfortably finishing ahead of Robert Finke and Florian Wellbrock in a time of 14:32.80. The Italian looked on course to break Sun Yang’s world record of 14:31.02 but faded in the last 100 metres.
- Earlier, former Olympic champion Ruta Meilutyte of Lithuania clinched gold in the women’s 50 breaststroke, beating Italian Benedetta Pilato by 0.10 seconds, with Lara van Niekerk of South Africa coming home in third.
Meilutyte was handed a 24-month suspension in 2019 for anti-doping violations and returned to competitive action only in December last year.
Action in Budapest continues Sunday for live action beginning at 7 a.m. ET with the open water swimming team relay, followed by Canada vs. Netherlands in the women’s water polo crossover game at 8 ET.
The first diving final, men’s 3-metre springboard synchro, is scheduled for 10 a.m.
Coverage continues every day through July 3. Click on the link below for a full schedule of events.
Dufour nets four as Sea Dogs rally past Cataractes, advance to Memorial Cup final – TSN
SAINT JOHN, N.B. — The Shawinigan Cataractes scored 49 seconds into Saturday’s final round robin game at the Memorial Cup and enjoyed a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes.
Then William Dufour of the Saint John Sea Dogs said “hold my (root) beer.”
Dufour, the 2020 fifth-round draft pick of the New York Islanders, rattled off three consecutive goals in the second period and added a fourth in the third as the tournament hosts scored five unanswered goals to defeat the Cataractes 5-3 to earn a berth in Wednesday’s Cup final.
The trip to the final erases a bit of the disappointment of the Sea Dogs’ first-round loss in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League playoffs.
The Cataractes, with two wins and a loss in the round robin, will have to beat the Hamilton Bulldogs in Monday’s semifinal game to get another shot at their QMJHL rival.
Jeremie Poirier scored Saint John’s other goal, while teammate Josh Lawrence added two assists. The Sea Dogs finished the round robin with two wins and an overtime loss.
Loris Rafanomezantsoa, Olivier Nadeau and William Veillette scored for Shawinigan, who outshot the Sea Dogs 15-10 in the first period but were outshot 21-5 in the second.
The six-foot-three Dufour, named MVP of the QMJHL this season, had 56 goals and 116 points during the QMJHL regular season.
“To finish my (junior) career like this is so great,” said the 20-year-old Dufour, calling the win one of his greatest moments in hockey. “We have one more game to win. We’re just going to go for it.”
POKE CHECKS: The Hamilton Bulldogs, who finished the round robin portion of the 102nd Memorial Cup championship with one regulation win for three points, lost to the Sea Dogs 5-4 on June 20, then dropped a 3-2 decision to the Cataractes on June 23, before beating the Edmonton Oil Kings 4-2 on Friday. The Oil Kings finished the tournament with one overtime win and two losses for two points and failed to make the playoffs. … Next year’s Memorial Cup will be held in Kamloops, B.C., home of the Western Hockey League Blazers who won the national tournament in 1992, 1994 and 1995.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published June 25, 2022
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