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IWTG: Canucks need overtime to vanquish the Knights before Christmas – Vancouver Courier

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‘Twas the Knights before Christmas at Rogers Arena
Many seats appeared empty (Or were filled by John Cena)

The fanbase was hanging by the slimmest of threads
With visions of tanking another year in their heads

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Jacob Markstrom was starting his sixth straight fixture
Since Demko is still on the injured reserve

All of the Canucks, led by Horvat the cap
Were determined that losing four-straight wasn’t hap-

-penning. Ahem.

And out on the ice, there arose A. Gaudette
Who chased down a dump-in and quickly shot it

Marc-Andre — The Flower — made like a brick wall
But Gaudette stuck with it and set up Roussel

Just like that, one-nothing, but the Canucks weren’t through
They added another to make it oh-two

Away down the wing, Leivo flew like a flash
And centred for Pearson and in he did cash

The Knights would respond on a Miller turnover;
He made up for the error, ‘twas the net that he drove’er

Creating a rebound for Petey to poke
To make it three-one and the arena awoke

The game took a turn in the middlest of frames
As Vegas responded with accurate aims

The Knights scored two goals amid some controversy
The refs missed a Knight boarding Leivs without mercy

They entered the third period in a tie game
And Travis Green shouted and call’d them by name

Now, Boeser! Now, Petey! Now, Miller and Tanev!
On Huggy! On Horvat! On Gaudette and Virtanen!

As dry leaves before the wild hurricane fly
Came Boeser down right wing — cross-ice he did spy

Elias Pettersson along the left wing
And into the net, the puck did he fling

Yet the curse of puck management struck them once more
A turnover led to a Golden Knights’ score

That made it four-four, with four minutes to play
Was this one more Canucks lead that they’d piss away?

Late in the third, the Knights came in waves
And Markstrom came up with a big blocker save

That led to more hockey — oh what a gift!
Chris Tanev came out for an overtime shift

He spoke not a word, but went straight to his work
Took a sweet sauce from Horvat and deked with a jerk

He tucked the puck under the left pad of Fleury
With a confident move — we were silly to worry

We should have predicted that Chris would deliver 
A bunch of his goals are OT gamewinners 

He gave us a gift like his last name was Kringle
Left ladies (and some men) wond’ring if he is single

He’s not (I am sorry), but I heard him exclaim
“Merry one-week ‘til Christmas,” after I watched this game.

  • This wasn’t an amazing game by the Canucks, who were out-shot by the Knights 43-to-34, but the biggest difference was how they went to the net. The team has been satisfied of late with too many shots from the outside, but four of their five goals in this game were scored from the top of the crease.
  • Or, in Antoine Roussel’s case, inside the crease. Jake Virtanen tipped in a Tyler Myers’ pass from centre, then Adam Gaudette went to work, beating everyone to the puck and chipping it on net. Fleury couldn’t handle the shot, and Gaudette got a whack at the rebound, sending it through Fleury into the crease, where Roussel was all over it like a snake on a Christmas tree.
  • Tanner Pearson gave the Canucks a 2-0 lead at the very last second of the Canucks’ first power play. Myers made a nice play at the blue line to keep the puck in, then Josh Leivo’s give-and-go with Virtanen was nearly broken up. Virtanen kept the puck alive to Leivo, whose end-line pass was jammed in by Pearson, who had boxed out Nate Schmidt in front.
  • The Golden Knights responded on a pretty awful turnover by J.T. Miller. He circled the zone, then made an ill-advised backhand pass at the blue line that was picked off by Reilly Smith. Miller quickly got back on defence, but got fixated on the puck and stopped moving his feet, allowing William Karlsson to slip in behind him. Smith fed Karlsson, whose shot was turned aside by Jacob Markstrom, but Miller didn’t pick up the trailer, Jonathan Marchessault, who banged in the rebound.
  • Everyone makes mistakes; what matters is what you do next, and Miller made up for it by manufacturing a goal out of nothing. He picked off a Schmidt pass at the Vegas blue line, then cut into the slot past Brayden McNabb, backhanding the puck on net as he was dragged down to the ice. Fleury mishandled the shot and Pettersson made like a golfer and chipped it in for Birdie.
  • That 3-1 goal wasn’t possible without an incredible save by Markstrom at the other end. He stretched out his left pad to rob Mark Stone on the doorstep, then Brock Boeser lifted Stone’s stick at the last moment to prevent him from banging in the rebound. That would have been the httpITALICS turning point of the game if there hadn’t been half a dozen more turning points to come.
  • The Knights’ first line struck again midway through the second period on a nice passing play, catching the Canucks running around in their own zone. Both Quinn Hughes and Chris Tanev ended up reaching for the puck instead of marking their respective checks and, as Michael Jordan once said, “You reach, I teach.”
  • Then the controversy: Nick Holden hit Leivo squarely in the numbers, throwing him hard into the boards, where Leivo appeared to hit his right knee hard. Leivo stayed down and a scrum ensued, but the referees somehow didn’t call a penalty. Call it boarding, call it checking from behind, call it interference — bottom line, it should have been called.

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  • Leivo was clearly upset, which is generally not a good sign — athletes know their own bodies and it seemed like he could tell something was very wrong — and his teammates echoed his upsetness. A couple people — presumably Canucks — could be heard saying, “Keep your head up,” and “I’ll take a f***ing five gamer,” presumably referring to the five-game suspension he’d receive for whatever terrible thing he would do to Holden, leaving the actual act earning the suspension up to Holden’s imagination, thereby increasing the potential terror.
  • To add insult to literal injury, Holden tied the game up on the next shift, as his point shot deflected in off Bo Horvat’s skate. He should have been in the penalty box and the Rogers Arena crowd was not shy to let the refs know that.
  • After the 3-3 goal, Travis Green called a crucial timeout to allow his team a chance to regroup. They were significantly better through the rest of the second period after the timeout and it may have stanched the bleeding.
  • Pettersson was feeling it in this game, scoring the 3-1 goal, then adding a crossbar in the second period on a rocket of a wrist shot, then finally scoring the 4-3 goal in the third period. It was a lovely cross-ice give-and-go: Pettersson banked the puck to Boeser on the right wing, then Boeser threaded the needle back to Pettersson on the left wing, and he cradled and released the puck all in one motion.
  • The Knights couldn’t be repressed, tying the game up again. After a Myers turnover on a 4-on-4, the Knights put the Canucks on the spin cycle, rotating until the Canucks’ coverage broke down and Mark Stone opened up at the back door, with Hughes and Horvat miscommunicating who was supposed to mark Stone. The man they call Stoner scored with 4:20 remaining.
  • Despite the four goals against, Markstrom was fantastic all game, particularly in the third period, where he faced 19 shots on goal. His biggest save came with two minutes left, as the Golden Knights poured on the pressure on a late power play. Jay Beagle didn’t pick up Paul Stastny at the back door, but Markstrom lunged across with the blocker, turning aside what looked like a sure goal. It was the biggest robbery since Divina de Campo didn’t win Drag Race UK.
  • In overtime, Horvat was looking for his first goal at home of the season, but had to settle for a gorgeous assist. Tanev rotated down from the point and shook off Max Pacioretty, then took Horvat’s lovely saucer pass, evaded Fleury’s pokecheck with a deke to the forehand, then tucked the puck under Fleury’s pad. It was the most unexpectedly slick move since Lube Man slid into a street drain on Watchmen.
  • Also a great move: Tanev’s uninhibited fist-pumping celebration, which looked like it owed a debt to Adam Gaudette’s pumped-up goal celebrations. I’m all for it: the more joy and exuberance, the better, because this team could learn to let loose a little more.

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LeBron Saves Team USA in Thrilling Exhibition Against South Sudan at O2 Arena

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LONDON — In what could have been one of the most monumental upsets in international basketball history, Team USA narrowly escaped with a 101-100 victory over a spirited South Sudan team at the O2 Arena in London on Saturday night. This exhibition match, serving as a tune-up for the 2024 Olympics, showcased the rapid rise of South Sudanese basketball and the indomitable spirit of the American team led by LeBron James.

The atmosphere at the O2 Arena was electric, with fans witnessing a game that turned out to be far more competitive than expected. South Sudan, a team composed largely of refugees and players from the diaspora, pushed the heavily favored Americans to their limits.

First Half Highlights:

  • South Sudan came out firing on all cylinders, building a surprising 16-point lead in the second quarter.
  • Team USA struggled with their three-point shooting, missing 12 of their first 13 attempts from beyond the arc.

Despite the odds, South Sudan’s players, many of whom have overcome significant personal and professional challenges, played with remarkable cohesion and determination. Their performance was a testament to the rapid progress the team has made under the guidance of former NBA star Luol Deng.

With the game hanging in the balance, LeBron James demonstrated why he remains one of the greatest basketball players of all time. Benched at the start of the third quarter, James returned to the floor with a determination that was palpable.

Key Moments:

  • Third Quarter: Anthony Davis’ defensive prowess helped shrink the deficit. LeBron’s return brought stability and focus back to Team USA.
  • Final Minute: With just 20 seconds left, JT Thor of South Sudan scored over LeBron, giving his team a one-point lead.
  • Game-Winning Shot: LeBron drove to the basket, scoring the decisive layup with eight seconds remaining.

South Sudan’s journey to this point has been nothing short of inspirational. The country gained independence from Sudan in 2011, and the basketball program, still in its infancy, has quickly become a source of national pride.

Notable Contributions:

  • Carlik Jones: Delivered a triple-double with 15 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.
  • Wenyen Gabriel: LeBron’s former teammate with the Lakers, contributed 11 points.
  • Marial Shayok: Led South Sudan with 24 points.

The team’s formation and rise have been spearheaded by Luol Deng, who played a pivotal role in recruiting and funding the program. His efforts have culminated in South Sudan qualifying for the Olympics, marking a historic achievement for the young nation.

Stephen Curry: “Wild game. They played really intense. It was nice to see how we responded. LeBron with a great finish down the stretch.”

Steve Kerr: “The whole team was embarrassed at halftime. We were challenged today, and it was good for us to feel that now. This was a reminder that we need to bring our best every game.”

Luol Deng: Expressed immense pride in his team’s performance, emphasizing the significance of their journey and the obstacles they have overcome.

This exhibition game was more than just a pre-Olympic warm-up. It highlighted the potential for underdog stories in sports and underscored the global reach and impact of basketball. Team USA, despite the narrow escape, was reminded of the importance of every game and the challenges that lie ahead.

South Sudan, on the other hand, has cemented its place on the international stage, showcasing that with determination and the right support, even the newest teams can compete with the best in the world.

As both teams prepare for the Olympics, this game at the O2 Arena will be remembered not only for its thrilling finish but also for the remarkable stories of resilience and ambition that played out on the court.

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UFC Vegas 94: Amanda Lemos vs. Virna Jandiroba – Main Event Recap

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In a thrilling main event at UFC Vegas 94, strawweights Amanda Lemos and Virna Jandiroba faced off on Saturday night. After an evenly matched first round, Jandiroba secured a dramatic submission victory in the second round, just moments before the bell.

Fight Summary:

  • First Round: The opening round was highly competitive, with both fighters showcasing their skills and maintaining a close contest.
  • Second Round: In the final seconds of the second round, Jandiroba managed to secure a submission, forcing Lemos to tap out. The win marks an impressive fourth consecutive victory for Jandiroba.

Post-Fight Remarks:

  • In her post-fight interview inside the Octagon, Jandiroba confidently called out UFC President Dana White, declaring, “Dana, I’m the next one. Dana, I’m your next champion.”

Future Implications:

  • With this victory, Jandiroba has positioned herself as a strong contender for the strawweight title. Tatiana Suarez, who was the rightful next contender for Weili Zhang, has been sidelined due to an injury. Jandiroba’s current four-fight win streak and her dominant performance at UFC Vegas 94 make a compelling case for her title shot.

Stay tuned for more updates as the UFC strawweight division continues to evolve, and see if Virna Jandiroba will indeed become the next challenger for the championship belt.

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Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry: Fight Night Updates

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Jake Paul is back in the ring, and he’s promising fireworks as he takes on former UFC star Mike Perry at the Amalie Arena in Tampa, Florida. The fight will be broadcast live on DAZN. Originally, Paul was set to fight Mike Tyson, but Perry stepped in after Tyson suffered an injury.

Fight Details:

Jake Paul (9-1, 6 KOs)

  • Paul is coming off a first-round TKO of Ryan Bourland in March.
  • He has promised that Perry won’t survive the second round.
  • Paul is more experienced in boxing but still relatively new to the sport.

Mike Perry (0-1)

  • Perry, known as “Platinum,” brings over a decade of fighting experience, mainly in MMA and bare-knuckle fighting.
  • He believes Paul is still green in the fight business and intends to use his experience to pull off an upset.

Main Event:
Jake Paul vs. Mike Perry

Live Updates: Follow DAZN for all the live updates, results, and highlights from the Paul vs. Perry pay-per-view main card.

Main Card Results:

Amanda Serrano def. Stevie Morgan via TKO

  • Round 2, 0:38
    • Watch the finish

Lucas Bahdi def. H20 Sylve via knockout

  • Round 6, 2:27
    • Watch the finish

Corey Marksman def. Tony Aguilar via majority decision

  • Scores: 76-76, 77-75, 78-74

Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. def. Uriah Hall via unanimous decision

  • Scores: 59-55, 59-55, 58-56
    • Recap

Stay tuned for the main event updates and see if Jake Paul can deliver on his promise of another highlight reel knockout or if Mike Perry will teach him a lesson and pull off a major upset.

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