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'It was surreal': University of Toronto student suits up for Toronto Maple Leafs – CTV News Toronto

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TORONTO —
By day, he’s a university student and the goalie for the University of Toronto’s men’s hockey team. By night, or at least for one night, he was a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I keep remembering little details every once in a while,” Alex Bishop told CTV News Toronto. “Saying, oh, that was really cool, or that was really cool – but I think it’ll definitely take a couple of days.”

The morning after his NHL debut, Bishop admitted it still hadn’t sunk in.

“It’s not really something that you sit at home and think, ‘oh, maybe I’ll get to sit on an NHL bench tonight.’ It just doesn’t go through your head.”

Bishop first heard of the potential opportunity on Friday morning through a message from his coach. The Leafs’ Petr Mrázek was out with a groin injury, and the team’s salary cap limitations prevented them from calling up a back-up goalie until Sunday.

Saturday morning he was on the ice, practicing with the team he’s grown up idolizing.

“It was surreal for sure,” Bishop said, adding that the players “were all very, very nice- like super welcoming.”

As for taking shots from the professionals he usually watches on television, Bishop said it wasn’t as daunting as one would think.

“As soon as you get on the ice, it’s just hockey — just different players and different shooters. I tried to just look at it that way but at the same time, try to soak it all in and say, I’m here, this is really cool.”

But he admitted it was a different story when it came time to walk out onto the ice at Scotiabank Arena on Saturday night as the Leafs faced the Ottawa Senators.

“Even just walking to the bench, there’s fans on your left, fans on your right, the cameras are flashing, the horns are going crazy. It’s something you’ve seen on TV, and even if you’re at the game, you hear it, but to be experiencing it first hand, it’s indescribable.”

Bishop spent the game sitting at the end of the bench, never taking the ice. But he says that’s just fine with him.

“I just don’t think it really could have worked out better. I was able to be there the whole game and didn’t have to go in, so, best-case scenario.”

Bishop says he enjoyed everything about the night, including the chance to experience the things most fans never get to see.

“Just kind of being around the team and seeing just a little bit of what goes on behind the scenes on game day — what they do to prepare, and then obviously having a courtside seat to an NHL game is definitely not something to complain about.”

It was a once-in-a-lifetime experience for a life-long fan of the team, something passed down to him from his father. Bishop says the Leafs got tickets for his mom, dad, and sister to watch the game. They were also given Leaf jerseys with his name and number on the back.

Barring another series of unfortunate events for the Leafs, the former Quebec Major Junior Hockey League player will suit up again for the U of T Varsity Blues.

“We’re a real, strong team,” Bishop said, “I think we have a good chance to go a decent way this year, so I’m hoping we can do that.”

As for what’s next for Bishop: midterms. He has one on Tuesday and another on Thursday, though he admits he usually crams for midterms, so his brief NHL career didn’t interrupt his studying too much.

It will be a busy week for Bishop and one he says he’ll likely never forget.

“It really isn’t lost on me that this is like.. an opportunity that not many people get. So I was very fortunate in being able to do this.”

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Italy, Portugal drawn in same bracket for World Cup qualifying playoffs – CBC.ca

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The World Cup in Qatar is sure to be without either Italy or Cristiano Ronaldo.

Italy and Portugal, the current and previous European champions, were drawn into the same qualifying playoff bracket Friday, meaning at least one will fail to qualify for next year’s tournament.

Italy will first face North Macedonia at home in a playoff semifinal next March, and the winner will play away at either Portugal or Turkey for a spot at the World Cup.

Four-time champion Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup, missing the tournament for the first time since 1958 after losing in the playoffs to Sweden. Now, after winning Euro 2020 in July, it may have to beat Euro 2016 champion Portugal to avoid a second straight failure.

“It’s not a great draw and it could have gone better,” Italy coach Roberto Mancini acknowledged. “Just like we wanted to avoid Portugal, they would have wanted to avoid Italy.”

Ronaldo has led Portugal to every World Cup since 2006 and this could be his last attempt at winning international soccer’s biggest trophy. He will turn 37 before next year’s tournament starts.

Ronaldo helped Portugal get through the playoffs for the 2014 World Cup, scoring a hat trick in a 3-2 win over Sweden that featured an epic duel between superstars, with Zlatan Ibrahimović netting twice for the Swedes.

“It’s not worth thinking about (Italy),” Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. “It’s important that we concentrate on beating Turkey.”

Italy’s forward Federico Chiesa (L) challenges Switzerland’s defender Ricardo Rodriguez during the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualification Group C football match between Italy and Switzerland on November 12, 2021 at the Olympic stadium in Rome. (Akberto Pizzoli/AFP via Getty Images)

Other matchups

Also in the 12-team draw, Scotland will face Ukraine at home, and the winner will play at Wales or Austria in the final of their bracket.

Russia will host Poland for the right to face Sweden or the Czech Republic in their bracket final. Russia or Poland will host the final.

Scotland looks to end a 24-year wait to play at the World Cup while Wales’ only appearance was in 1958.

“At the moment, the way the team is playing, the confidence the boys have got, we would be happy to play anyone, anywhere,” said Scotland coach Steve Clarke, whose team has won six straight since September.

However, Ukraine won at Hampden Park in June, in the Euro 2020 round of 16 against Sweden, and went unbeaten through a World Cup qualifying group won by France.

Scotland players celebrate as they leave the pitch after the FIFA World Cup 2022 Group F qualification football match between Scotland and Denmark at Hampden Park in Glasgow on November 15, 2021. (Andy Buchanan/AFP via Getty Images)

Sweden will not have Ibrahimović for its semifinal against the Czechs. The 40-year-old forward has a one-game ban for getting yellow cards in the qualifying group.

“We already did it last time (in 2018) and we of course (know) that we can do it again,” said Sweden coach Janne Andersson.

The six playoff semifinals will be played as single-leg games March 24. The three finals are played five days later.

The three winners will complete Europe’s entry of 13 nations in the 32-team lineup in Qatar.

FIFA will make the tournament draw on April 1 in Doha.

The European playoffs feature the 10 teams who finished second in their qualifying groups along with two teams — Austria and the Czechs — who won Nations League groups last year.

Also, FIFA said Qatar will host the intercontinental playoff in June that will decide the last two qualifiers for the tournament.

Intercontinental draw

The intercontinental draw paired the team from Asia against the team from South America, and a team from North American region CONCACAF against Oceania’s representative.

Those qualifying campaigns are still being played.

The winners of the two single-leg games on June 13-14 will complete the 32-team World Cup lineup.

The intercontinental playoff was originally scheduled for March 2022 as two-leg, home and away series. The games were pushed back as the global qualifying program stalled during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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Canadiens @ Sabres Top Six Minutes: Just send Norlinder home already – Habs Eyes on the Prize

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For our new readers and members, the Top Six Minutes is a continuation of the discussion in the game thread. We try to keep it light and entertaining. Full recaps are up the morning after every game.

  • Olofsson, Dahlin, Lehkonen, and Norlinder – Go Frölunda!

First Period

  • Thompson scores, from a Lehkonen turnover in Montreals zone, followed by some defence miscues. Here we go, again…
  • Montembeault with a brain fart, he has to scramble to make a fantastic save to keep the score at one down.
  • Post – Girgensons almost scores out of nothing.
  • Josh Andersson scores! Game is tied at one.
  • Toffoli goes down, but controls the puck and gets a good shot off.
  • Armia, then Caufield with giveaways in their own end.

Second Period

  • The Second period has started, not sure Montreal knows that. They barely get out of their own zone.
  • Olofsson gets in all alone on Montembeault, who somehow saves without knowing where the puck is.
  • It’s all Buffalo.
  • Dvorak with a sneaky move, Tokarski saves it after some initial problems.
  • Petry joins the attack, good moves, but drops the puck. Three-on-two the other way and Eakin makes it 2-1 Sabres.
  • Double power kill for Montreal.
  • Okposo gets like 15 chances, and scores on one of them. 3-1, blue.
  • Dvorak into the boards, awkwardly getting up.
  • … and a penalty to Montreal. Savard to the sin-bin.
  • Montreal kills off that penalty.
  • Norlinder TOI after the second period – 5:55. Montreal, and Marc Bergevin, seems to see it as a weakness to send him back to SHL.

Third Period

  • Gallagher-Evans-Lehkonen kickstarts the third period. No goal but a really good shift.
  • Almost Dvorak.
  • 4-1, Thompson.
  • Another break for Buffalo, Montembeault saves.
  • Chaos, utterly chaos in their own end.
  • This is a team without any confidence; no-one, absolutely no-one wants the puck on their stick.

EOTP 3 Stars

3) Someone has to win that game

2) You can’t say the Canadiens’ special teams haven’t been productive this season

1) One of the players is going to let this slip some night

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One of Italy or Portugal will miss World Cup after qualifying draw – Sportsnet.ca

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ZURICH — European champion Italy and Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal were drawn in the same World Cup qualifying playoffs bracket Friday, meaning at least one of them will miss next year’s tournament in Qatar.

Italy will face North Macedonia at home in a playoff semifinal next March, and the winner will play away at either Portugal or Turkey for a spot in the World Cup.

Italy failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup — losing in the playoffs to Sweden — and now will likely have to beat Ronaldo and Portugal to avoid missing the tournament for a second straight time. Portugal has always qualified during Ronaldo’s career. He first played at the 2006 World Cup.

Also in the 12-team draw, Scotland will face Ukraine at home, and the winner will play at Wales or Austria in the final of their bracket.

Russia will host Poland for the right to face Sweden or the Czech Republic in their bracket final. Russia or Poland will host the final.

The six playoff semifinals will be played as single-leg elimination games March 24. The three finals are played five days later.

The three winners will complete Europe’s entry of 13 nations in the 32-team lineup in Qatar.

FIFA will make the tournament draw on April 1 in Doha.

The playoffs feature the 10 teams who finished second in their qualifying groups along with two teams — Austria and the Czechs — who won Nations League groups last year.

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