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Knight ready to prove himself, play larger role for US at 2020 WJC – NHL.com

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Spencer Knight, chosen by the Florida Panthers with the No. 13 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, has waited an entire year for another opportunity to represent the United States at the IIHF World Junior Championship.

This time, he’s expected to play a larger role for his country after not playing one minute in seven games as the third goalie in the rotation during a second-place finish at the 2019 World Junior Championship in Vancouver.

The 2020 WJC begins Thursday and runs through Jan. 5 at Ostravar Arena and Werk Arena in Czech Republic. The Group B bracket includes Canada, Czech Republic, Germany, Russia and the United States.

“I learned a lot in Vancouver,” Knight said. “It was a huge stage with how much the tournament means to people. Just being in the locker room and knowing how much it takes to really get that far, getting all the way to the championship game, was great. Making sure you have all the little details in order are so important. Every practice, every game, just paying attention to the small things and then it begins to build.”

Knight has done his part to ensure the little things haven’t kept him down this season as a freshman for Boston College in Hockey East.

“He’s a student, very Type A, and knows his game better than anybody,” Boston College goaltending coach Mike Ayers said. “But what I find amazing about him is his ability to maintain his feet as long as he does. That’s pretty special because that’s hard to teach. His efficiency around the crease is good. He’s waiting for the shooter to shoot or make a decision, and his patience, drive and work ethic are top notch.”

Knight said the experience he gained at the 2019 WJC was great and has motivated him in his first college season. He’s 11-4-0 with a 1.73 goals-against average, .940 save percentage and four shutouts in 15 games.

Though Knight is expected to take on more of a leadership role as one of five returning players from the 2019 WJC, he’ll receive plenty of competition in goal from Isaiah Saville (Vegas Golden Knights) of the University of Nebraska Omaha in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference and Dustin Wolf (Calgary Flames) of Everett in the Western Hockey League. 

U.S. general manager John Vanbiesbrouck confirmed all three goalies will be part of the final 23-player roster in Czech Republic.

“I think you have to be respectful of each other but if we all compete to the best of our ability and make each other better, at the end of the day, whoever plays, that’s how the team improves,” Knight said. “We’re going to have the best goalie in net and whether that’s me, [Wolf], or Isaiah, we’re going to support each other. If everyone is pushing for that net, that’s a good thing and makes us all better.”

Knight (6-foot-3, 192 pounds) has started every game for Boston College while proving an ability to overcome adversity. After allowing six goals on 26 shots in a 6-2 loss to Providence on Oct. 25, Knight allowed 10 goals in his next 10 games (9-1-0). 

“That game against Providence was probably the worst game he’s played,” Ayers said. “When I asked him what he wanted to do with the film, since we normally go through it, he said, ‘You know what, let’s just put that one away.’

“I actually thought it was a great way for him to just turn the page and from that point I think we found some things within his game that needed to get better, worked on that and he started to get more confident with those changes.”

Knight begins each game with good energy, which he said was key to his turnaround.

“I think you need to make sure you have energy entering the game right away and from the puck drop,” he said. “You want to be into it and be more on top of it, just really focus and dial it in. That’s kind of what I’ve changed from the beginning of the year.”

Vanbiesbrouck has been impressed with Knight’s ability and the experience he brings to the 2020 WJC.

“He had a time there where he struggled but overcame his own adversity, got back on the horse again for Boston College,” Vanbiesbrouck said. “People expect a lot out of him and he’s a first-round pick of the Florida Panthers, so with that comes a different set of expectations.

“But I don’t think that’ll affect Spencer because one of his best assets is between his ears. He’s a very sound thinker, has a good approach to the game. I can see that in him and believe he’s ready for this.”

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Hockey Canada's strategy of deflecting serves no one but its disgraced leadership – The Globe and Mail

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Witnesses Scott Smith, Hockey Canada President and Chief Operating Officer, left, and Hockey Canada Chief Financial Officer Brian Cairo, appear at the standing committee on Canadian Heritage in Ottawa on Wednesday, July 27, 2022.Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

A while back, I had a job in a movie theatre. The theatre at the foot of an atrium in an open-plan tower. We plebs could look up at the offices and hallways above, where the corporation’s big wigs worked.

The biggest wig in our world would often lean over a balcony and stare down at us, like a gargoyle in pinstripes. If you were caught loafing, a call would be made and you’d hear about it.

One day, there was a commotion from several floors above – a lot of screaming and banging. The biggest wig had been fired. His reaction was to go back to his office and barricade himself inside it.

The banging was security kicking in the door. The screaming was him being dragged to the elevators. It was a different time.

But the lesson therein is timeless. Nobody likes being canned. But people in charge take it particularly hard.

Right now, 2½ months into Hockey Canada’s sex-abuse scandal, we’re at the barricade stage.

In any other country, this would be over now. Through a combination of popular outrage and political panic, the Hockey Canada edifice would have been burned to the ground.

But in this country we continue to believe shame will do the job for us. That the people in charge of this world-class gong show will get the message and slink off home.

But Hockey Canada’s leadership is not operating on Canadian rules. They’re pulling from the American handbook on how to survive a scandal. Shamelessness is a prerequisite.

Their first job was deflecting.

In terms of an absolute defence, the deflecting’s gone about as well as a guy trying to push off bullets by waving his hands around. But it bought time. The men in charge knew they could count on Ottawa to a) quickly promise to take decisive action and b) take absolutely forever to decide what that decisive action looks like.

Deflecting has another virtue – it dilutes outrage. No matter how awful, people can only read about a story for so long without becoming bored. And there’s always a fresh outrage to divert us.

This week, Hockey Canada hired someone to head an investigation into the workings of Hockey Canada. You could’ve written out this person’s CV long before the name was made public – retired judge, history of public service, member of the new Family Compact, etc.

Finding people is not hard. There are a whole bunch of them out there twiddling their thumbs, itching for someone to stick a microphone in front of them.

But after two months of withering pressure, Hockey Canada is just now figuring out who will set up the Slack group to discuss how to begin discussing their problems. Let me guess that if they’d been bleeding cash instead, organizing some sort of working committee would have taken two hours.

But this is how you do it, American-style. Pretend it’s a live broadcast with screen time to fill before commercials – stretch. Continue talking about nothing. Don’t stop speaking. It’s the silence that kills.

While you’re stretching, keep your eye on the horizon. That’s where the sports are. If you can make it to sports, you might be okay. The same people who wanted your head paraded in the town square yesterday might be distracted by a waving flag.

On Tuesday, the world junior hockey championship begins in Edmonton. Over the weekend, there will be a barrage of publicity about the tournament that launched a thousand official denials. We’ll rehash the particulars of this ugly affair and assess where we’re at. This column is part of that.

By Tuesday, the usual outlets will be talking about hockey. How’s Canada’s top line measuring up? Where’s the United States at? Whither the Olympic team?

This is how you erect a modern, media barricade.

Having seen a million of these things go down in recent years, you know you’re not going to talk your way out of your problem.

Bottom-line: You were in positions of authority at a public institution when something abhorrent happened. The integrity of that institution cannot be maintained if you continue to lead it.

This is obvious. But in our rush to definitively nail someone, anyone, we have skidded past the obvious. Now we’re all deep in the weeds, hacking away.

Uncovering the minutiae about who said what to whom at what board meeting may absorb reporters and politicians, but it only serves Hockey Canada’s current leadership.

While we’re Inspector Clouseau-ing this thing, we’re also avoiding the clear end point. The longer we spend doing that, the more likely it is that these fish all get off the hook.

This was the goal all along. Deflect, get to the world juniors, hope that Team Canada wins and that everyone is too exhausted by the end of it to keep taking pops at you. By the time your judge wraps up his report – let me guess ‘Mistakes were made but there is a clear plan forward’ – maybe you’ll have successfully run your gauntlet.

It’s not a plan, as such. As with Hockey Canada’s in-camera board meetings, nobody’s written it down. It’s instinctive process based on observation. In scandals as in sports, the mission is getting through today.

It’s not going to work. That’s also obvious. No matter what the eventual report says, it will reignite outrage.

The names of the players involved in the two alleged assaults will come out, probably during the NHL season. That will reignite outrage.

At any moment, the alleged victims could make fulsome public declarations. That will reignite outrage.

Any way you go, the outrage is going to leak out again. The only way to contain it is to blow this down to the foundations. Eventually, everyone’s going to realize that.

Really, all that’s being decided now is how you want to get to the elevators – walking under your own power, or being dragged there screaming by the rest of Canada.

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Rafael Nadal announces he will not be playing at the Canadian Open

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Montreal, Canada- 22 Grand Slam champion, Rafael Nadal, has announced that he will not be playing at the Canadian Open which kicks off this weekend.

Nadal cited that the reason to abandon the Canadian Open was a result of an abundance of caution regarding injury concerns.

“From the vacation days and my subsequent return to training, everything has gone well these weeks. Four days ago, I also started training my serve and yesterday, after training, I had a little discomfort that was still there today.

We have decided not to travel to Montreal and continue with the training sessions without forcing ourselves. I sincerely thank the tournament director, Eugene, and his entire team for the understanding and support they have always shown me, and today was no exception.

I hope to play again in Montreal, a tournament that I love and that I have won five times in front of an audience that has always welcomed me with great affection. I have no choice but to be prudent at this point and think about health,” said the Spaniard.

Last month, Nadal was forced to withdraw from his Wimbledon semifinal against Nick Kyrgios due to an abdominal injury.

Meanwhile, Novak Djokovic has also withdrawn from the Canadian Open as his status as unvaccinated against COVID-19 means he cannot enter the country.

Djokovic is also unlikely to play at the US Open after organizers said they would respect the American government rules over travel for unvaccinated players as the United States (US) requires non-citizens to be vaccinated against COVID-19 to enter.

“Per the Grand Slam Rule Book, all eligible players are automatically entered into the men’s and women’s singles main draw fields based on ranking 42 days prior to the first Monday of the event.

The US Open does not have a vaccination mandate in place for players, but it will respect the US government’s position regarding travel into the country for unvaccinated non-US citizens,” read a statement from the US Open which is set to take place in New York from the 29th of August to the 11th of September, 2022.

Nevertheless, Novak Djokovic will be joining Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer and Andy Murray to play for Team Europe in the Laver Cup.

The event, which pits six European players against six from Team World over three days, will take place in London between 23 and 25 September 2022.

“It’s the only (event) where you play in a team with guys you are normally competing against. To be joining Rafa, Roger and Andy, three of my biggest all-time rivals, it’s going to be a truly unique moment in the history of our sport,” said Djokovic.

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Canada beats Sweden to claim gold in Hlinka Gretzky Cup – Sportsnet.ca

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RED DEER, Alta. — Canada scored early and often and also stayed out of the penalty box en route to a 4-1 victory over Sweden in the gold-medal final of the Hlinka Gretzky Cup.

Tanner Howe, Ethan Gauthier, Calum Ritchie and Brayden Yager scored for the Canadians, who held period leads of 2-1 and 3-1 at the Peavey Mart Centrium on Saturday. Riley Heidt also chipped in with two assists for the champions.

Hugo Pettersson scored for Sweden, who were outshot 36-26. Each team received eight minutes in penalties.

Canada had beaten Sweden 3-0 on Aug. 3.

“Three weeks ago, we put this roster together and I felt right away this was a tight group,” said head coach Stephane Julien. “It’s not easy when you have this much talent, but everyone accepted their role and I’m so happy for them.”

The win is Canada’s first gold medal since 2018, the last time this tournament was held in Canada.

“I’m so happy for this group,” added Julien. “They haven’t had it easy in their careers the last two years with the pandemic, but now they have this, a gold medal and something they are going to remember for the rest of their career.”

Canada advanced to the final with a 4-1 win over Finland, while Sweden defeated Czechia 6-2. Finland beat Czechia 3-1 in Saturday’s bronze-medal final.

The Hlinka Gretzky Cup will shift to Europe in 2023, returning to Breclav and Piestany, Czechia for the first time since 2021. 

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