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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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Stars savouring rare opportunity to live out long-awaited dream – Sportsnet.ca

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EDMONTON — Ryan Bowness was a 33-year-old scout for Pittsburgh back in 2017 when the Penguins won the Stanley Cup, bestowing upon the Bowness family their first Stanley Cup ring.

He had his day with the Cup that summer, and brought it to the Halifax home of his parents. There, father Rick — a hockey lifer who had pursued that very chalice for far longer than Ryan had been alive — hosted a party in his son’s honour.

“I couldn’t have been more proud of him than when he brought that Stanley Cup home for the old man,” said Rick, the Dallas Stars head coach who gathered round ol’ Stanley for the requisite pictures.

“Of course, I didn’t touch it.”

After all these years in the game, Rick Bowness — drafted in 1975 by both the defunct Atlanta Flames and the Indianapolis Racers of the defunct World Hockey Association — will take his shot at earning his day with the Cup this summer, when he leads the Dallas Stars into Game 1 against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night in Edmonton.

His is just another of the many tales that are authored whenever two teams of 40-some players, coaches, managers and organizational hockey folk get this close to The Dream.

For half of them, The Dream will be realized. For the other half, having spent two-plus months in the bubble only to lose the Cup Final, they will reel from the cruelest of blows. Some for years to come.

“When I was growing up (in Kazakhstan and Russia) my dream was to play in the NHL,” said Stars goalie Anton Khudobin. “I didn’t really think to win the Stanley Cup, but when I came here and realized it’s not so easy to get here to the Final, I start thinking it would be a great accomplishment to get there and sometime win the Cup.”

Today, Khudobin is 34 and near the end of the line. Like teammates Joe Pavelski (36) who has never won, and Corey Perry (35), who won as a sophomore in Anaheim and has never been back, this is very likely their last kick at the cat as well.

“My first time going to the Final (in 2007) we played Ottawa, and pretty much three-quarters of my family is from Ottawa,” recalled Perry. “So there were a lot of people at every game. Here, my wife is coming in (Saturday), and I’ll see her in four, five days — after the quarantine. It’s a little different. Not travelling across the country, everything is right here. It’s just a matter of going out and playing hockey.”

For every Bowness and Pavelski, however, there is a Tyler Seguin. He won a Cup as a rookie in Boston in 2011, defeating Vancouver, where Bowness was an assistant coach, in seven games. Seguin returned in 2013, where the Bruins fell prey to the Chicago Blackhawks.

Seguin was 21, and had two Finals under his belt and his name on the Stanley Cup.

At age 28, how does it feel to be back again?

“I have more respect for it. More of a smile,” he said. “You realize how hard it is to get to this point. Back in the Boston days you figured it was going to happen every other year, with how my career started. (Now) I know the worth of the Cup a lot more, and how it is to get here. So, I am definitely knowing every moment.”

If only we all had a chance in life to relive our biggest moments two or three times. To get enough reps so it’s not all a blur, whatever your moment may be.

“And with the experience I have, you want to go talk to guys if they look nervous, or they’re not smiling,” Seguin said. “This is what we all dream about. The best time of year, a best position to be in.

“It’s the opportunity you have. Everything that’s happened so far? Nothing matters. It’s one series. Anything can happen in these moments.”

Seguin recalls stressing over setting up tickets for family at his previous Cups, a rite of passage for any player who gets this far — until this season.

“Big Markets,” he said. “Back in Boston, playing in Vancouver and Chicago in the years I went to the Final, tickets were pricey. Worth every dollar to have your family and friends there, but these are different times. It’s 2020. Nothing is unexpected.”

Begrudgingly, Seguin smiles as he admits even to missing us scribes. OK, not personally. But the media presence at a Final is what helps make the experience, another facet that simply doesn’t exist in these bubble playoffs.

Friday was Media Day, which meant a series of Zoom calls. Woo hoo…!

“Honestly, you miss those (media) days,” Seguin admitted. “Being there twice, it feels like you’re a football player. There is so much media. Cameras in your face. It’s definitely surreal, and a memory I have.”

There are so many elements that are different this year. The result, however, will not be cowed by COVID-19.

Win the Stanley Cup, and it is something these players and coaches will never forget.

Lose? Same.

“The Vancouver one stays with you every day of your life,” Bowness admits. “When you get to Game 7 and you lose a Stanley Cup Final? That stays with you.

“I’ve only been there a couple of times, but any time you get to those Stanley Cup Finals, man, it stays with ya. The rest of your life.

“It’s painful.”

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NBA Playoffs 2020: Eight observations as Lakers dominate and cruise to comfortable Game 1 win over Nuggets – NBA CA

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No more Game 1 losses for the Lakers.

Their 126-114 win over the Nuggets to begin the Western Conference Finals is their first Game 1 win of the 2020 playoffs and snaps a four-game skid in Game 1s leading back to the first round of the 2012 playoffs.

Their All-Stars led from the front as LeBron James finished with 15 points, 12 assists, and six rebounds while Anthony Davis also stuffed the stat sheet with 37 points, and 10 rebounds. The Lakers reserves showed up, scoring 48 points led by Dwight Howard who had 13 points.

Meanwhile, for the Nuggets, their superstars Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray only combined for 42 points on 15-of-26 shooting from the field but were battling foul trouble and couldn’t impact the game as they would have liked.

For more, here are the biggest observations from this game:

1. Superstars shine in high-scoring 1st Q duel

Lakers have had great 1st quarters in these 2020 playoffs, averaging a league-best 31.2 points. Nothing changed in this one as they raced to 36 points on 13-of-22 (59.1%) shooting from the field.

Rajon Rondo and Los Angeles’ two All-NBA players in LeBron and AD had their hands all over this period, scoring or assisting on 31 of the team’s 36 points in the first quarter. AD led the way with 14 points, four rebounds, and two assists.

But the young Nuggets were right up there with the Lakers. Courtesy of Jamal Murray’s buzzer-beating three, the Nuggets took a 38-36 lead at the end of the first 12 minutes.

Denver’s two superstars in Murray and Jokic (11 points, three rebounds, two assists) were responsible for 32 of the team’s 38 points in the period as the team shot 14-of-22 (63.6%) from the field in a quarter that saw four lead changes and six ties.

The rest of the game saw just one lead change and tie.

2. Lakers’ huge 2nd quarter

Los Angeles jumped to a 70-59 halftime lead on the back of a huge second quarter. The experienced squad outscored the Nuggets 34-21 including a 20-3 over the first 5:52 minutes of the second quarter.

James was responsible for scoring 10 of those points including a couple of thunderous slams.

During the run, Lakers shot 7-8 from the field while restricting the Nuggets to just the one field goal and forcing them into six turnovers.

3. Dwight Howard BIG early impact

After playing just 15 minutes in five games in the Conference Semifinals against the Houston Rockets including three DNPs, 16-year veteran Dwight Howard didn’t take long in this one to remind how impactful and valuable he is as part of the Lakers’ second unit.

In just seven minutes, all in the second quarter, he had five points (all FTs), two rebounds, two assists, and two blocks.

4. Nuggets early foul trouble

Part of Denver’s troubles in the second quarter was their key players battling foul trouble.

Jokic picked up his third foul with 7:22 left in the half and sat out the rest of the period. Jamal Murray, fresh of scoring six straight points after he was called for his third foul, had to be pulled with 3:53 left in the second quarter because he picked up his fourth foul.

Veteran Paul Millsap, having played just 5:29 minutes in the period, picked up his third with 3:19 left and he sat out the rest of the way.

Despite the double-digit halftime deficit, Denver should actually be credited to hang around despite all the foul trouble. They were down by 13 when Jokic went to the bench to not return and at the end of the period, they trailed by 11.

5. Howard gets the 2nd half start

His energetic second quarter earned Howard the second half start over JaVale McGee and he made an immediate impact, dunking home this alley-oop early:

In the third quarter, Howard made his presence felt once again finishing with eight points on a perfect 4-of-4 shooting and a +7 in 9:28 minutes.

6. Lakers late 3rd quarter charge

Both teams were trading buckets for much of the early portion of the third quarter. However, over the final 6:07 of the period, the Lakers went on a 25-12 that opened up this game and gave the Lakers a 24-point lead heading into the fourth quarter.

During the run, with consecutive dimes to AD, Rondo tied and then passed Michael Jordan for 10th on the all-time playoff career assists leaderboard. He finished with seven points, nine assists, and zero turnovers in his 22 minutes on the floor.

In the closing seconds of the quarter, Jokic picked up his fifth foul and given the scoreline at that point, he never checked back into the game.

7. Can MPJ carry 4th Q form to Game 2?

The game was already out of hand before the final quarter began as much of the period was played with the team’s second units.

For the Lakers, JR Smith passed Kobe Bryant for ninth all-time on the leaderboard for most career 3s made in the playoffs.

More importantly, the period saw Michael Porter Jr. getting some key minutes. After finishing with just four points (1-6 FGs) in 16 minutes through the first three quarters, the rookie seemed to get into some rhythm in the final period.

He scored 10 (2-3 FGs; 5-6 FTs) of his 14 points in the final period and eventually, also finished with 10 rebounds and four assists for the game. Can he carry this late-game rhythm into Game 2 to provide the Nuggets with an additional option?

8. Up Next

Just like 2009, the previous conference finals matchup between the Lakers and Nuggets, Los Angeles has taken the 1-0 series lead. How will Game 2 go?

It’s scheduled for Sunday, Sept. 20th at 7:30 PM ET.

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Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets Game 1: Score, updates, news, stats and highlights – NBA CA

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9h ago


Playoffs 2020

The Los Angeles Lakers and Denver Nuggets squared off in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals.

After the Nuggets completed their second consecutive 3-1 comeback, taking down the Utah Jazz and LA Clippers, they were riding a ton of momentum heading into this first contest. The Lakers, who have gentlemen’s swept each of their first two opponents, were yet to win a Game 1.

The Lakers made certain this one was in the books early, registering a dominant win.

Anthony Davis finished with 37 points and 10 rebounds, while Lebron James added 15 points and 12 assists.

If you missed the live action we have you covered with live updates, highlights, stats and more from this contest.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Denver Nuggets – Score, updates, news, stats and highlights

Final – Nuggets 114, Lakers 126

-That’s it, the clock runs out and the Lakers complete a dominant win over the Nuggets in game 1 to take a 1-0 series lead for the first time in the 2020 playoffs!

-With the Lakers leading by 20+ points the benches have cleared with three minutes to play. This one is in the books for the Lakers.

-Anthony Davis is up to 37 points as the Lakers look to close out game 1. Los Angeles lead Denver 115-93 with 6:41 to play.

-Rajon Rondo has moved into the top-10 for all-time playoff assists!

-Michael Porter Jr. finishes in transition and the Nuggets are on an 8-0 run to cut the score to 109-92. Lakers immediately call time to slow down the momentum. Porter Jr. has 11 points and five rebounds.

End of the third – Nuggets 79, Lakers 103

-It’s all Lakers to finish the thrid with Davis dominating the final minutes. He leads the Lakers with 33 points and 10 rebounds.

-Back-to-back dunks for Dwight Howard and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the Lakers lead is extended to a game-high 19 points!

-Murray is starting to cook for the Nuggets. He has 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting but Denver still can’t stop the Lakers inside and they lead 78-67 with 6:41 left in the third.

-Jokic now picks up his fourth foul off the ball fewer than 60 seconds into the quarter. Disasterous start for the Nuggets.

-We are underway in the third quarter!

-The Lakers have attempted 32 free-throws in the first half. They are physcially overwhelming the Nuggets inside and Denver will have to find a way to defend without fouling if they are to edge back into this game in the second half.

Halftime – Nuggets 59, Lakers 70

-Murray, Jokic and Millsap all have three fouls and sat out critical minutes during the second period.

-Lakers outscore the Nuggets 34-21 in the second quarter to take a double-digit lead into the half. It’s the fifth straight game Denver have trailed at halftime.

-Monte Morris with the finish at the rim but it’s the Lakers with a 65-53 lead with 1:57 until the half. LeBron and AD have combined to pour in 28 points for the Lakers.

-LeBron is now up to ten points in the second quarter and the Lakers lead is up to 15 with six minutes to go in the half!

-Huge moment in the game with Jokic picking up his third foul with 7:22 left in the half. The Lakers are on a 16-1 run to start the period and it’s danger time for the Nuggets.

-Dwight Howard checks in to the game for the Lakers as they continue to go big to try and slow down Jokic. Lakers hold a 45-39 edge with 9:24 left in the half.

-LeBron James steps on the foot of Jerami Grant driving to the basket and takes some time to get up. He is carrying a slight limp but heads to the free-throw line to take two.

End of the first – Nuggets 38, Lakers 36

-Jamal Murray gives the Nuggets the lead at the BUZZER! Huge shot from Murray ends a scoring frenzy in the first quarter…the repective defences haven’t had much of an answer thus far.

-In four games against the Lakers during the regular season Nikola Jokic averaged just 11 shot attempts per game. He’s got up nine in his first ten minute stretch of game one and has 11 points.

-Anthony Davis leads the Lakers with eight points while Jokic has six for Denver.

-Four quick points for the Lakers and Michael Malone calls time with his team trailing 21-17 with 4:23 left in the first quarter.

-It’s been all inside early for both teams, with all eight of the Nuggets points coming in the paint while the Lakers have scored 10 of their 13 in that zone.

-The Lakers take an early 13-8 edge as Jamal Murray will have two free-throws out of the timeout.

Pregame

-The Lakers move JaVale McGee back into the starting lineup for game 1.

-The Nuggets starting five is in!

-Nikola Jokic and Anthony Davis are set to duel in a pivotal matchup throughout they series. The All-Star duo are out on the floor getting loose before tip!

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