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Lafreniere helps Canada into final at World Junior Championship

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Saturday schedule/results

Russia 5, Sweden 4 (OT)
Canada 5, Finland 0

Semifinals
Canada 5, Finland 0

Alexis Lafreniere, expected to be the No. 1 pick of the 2020 NHL Draft, scored two goals for Canada in its semifinal win against Finland.

Joel Hofer, a St. Louis Blues prospect, made 31 saves for Canada, which will play Russia in the championship game Sunday (1 p.m. ET; NHLN). Connor McMichael (Washington Capitals), Jamie Drysdale (2020 Draft eligible) and Ty Dellandrea (Dallas Stars) scored for Canada.

Justus Annunen (Colorado Avalanche) made 34 saves for Finland, the 2019 WJC champion. Finland will play Sweden in the third-place game Sunday (9 a.m. ET; NHLN).

McMichael opened the scoring 1:48 into the first period, and Lafreniere made it 2-0 when he lifted a backhander off the rush over Annunen at 3:05.

 

Drysdale made it 3-0 at 3:55 and Dellandrea scored at 14:49 to make it 4-0. Lafreniere made it 5-0 with a power-play goal at 17:54 of the second period.

Canada forward Barrett Hayton (Arizona Coyotes), who had two assists, did not return after sustaining an apparent left shoulder injury early in the third period when he got tangled with Finland defenseman Lassi Thomson (Ottawa Senators) and fell into the boards. Canada coach Dale Hunter said Hayton is questionable for the championship game.

Hunter said defenseman Bowen Byram (Vancouver Canucks), who missed the game because of an illness, is expected to play against Russia.

Russia 5, Sweden 4 (OT)

Ivan Morozov, a Vegas Golden Knights prospect, scored his second goal of the game 3:24 into overtime for Russia in the semifinals.

Morozov cut wide through the Sweden zone during the 3-on-3 overtime, got around defensemen Rasmus Sandin (Toronto Maple Leafs) and beat goalie Hugo Alnefelt (Tampa Bay Lightning) under his arm.

Tweet from @TSN_Sports: The goal that secures either a gold or silver medal for the Russians! pic.twitter.com/1QsRX9jkfZ

Egor Sokolov, a C-rated prospect for the 2020 NHL Draft, scored two goals for Russia. Alexander Khovanov (Minnesota Wild) had a goal and an assist. Goalie Amir Miktakhov (2020 Draft eligible), who replaced Yaroslav Askarov (2020 draft eligible) 4:25 into the third period, stopped all five shots he faced.

Sandin had two goals and two assists for Sweden. Samuel Fagemo (Los Angeles Kings) and Nils Lundkvist each had a goal and an assist. Alnefelt made 39 saves.

What we learned
Sandin’s wrist is OK

Sweden defenseman Rasmus Sandin (Toronto Maple Leafs) missed time the previous two games after being slashed on the left wrist and told TSN that he’s playing through pain.

The wrist looked pretty good Saturday, when Sandin had two goals and two assists.

Both goals came on slap shots from the point. He gave Sweden a 1-0 lead 16 seconds into the first period after David Gustafsson won a face-off on the left side of the Russia zone.

Tweet from @TSN_Sports: Sweden isn’t messing around… less than 20 seconds into the game and Rasmus Sandin claps one home! ? pic.twitter.com/BxO6W8ACYZ

Then he scored the only goal of the second period that tied the game 3-3.

Tweet from @IIHFHockey: With his second of the game, @Rasmussandin ties it for @trekronorse on the #powerplay! #WorldJuniors @mapleleafs pic.twitter.com/gso0FSLwwH

Sandin also had two assists, and with nine points (two goals, seven assists) leads all defensemen at the WJC in scoring.

Sokolov not worried about NHL Draft

Egor Sokolov said winning, not the 2020 NHL Draft, is at the front of his mind right now. However, the 19-year-old forward is doing a nice job building a resume for himself for when the NHL heads to Bell Centre in Montreal for the annual selection process June 26-27.

Sokolov scored two goals Saturday, including the game-tying goal at 8:35 of the third period when he found space over the shoulder of Sweden goalie Hugo Alnefelt (Tampa Bay Lightning) to finish a give-and-go with Alexander Khovanov (Minnesota Wild).

Tweet from @TSN_Sports: Yegor Sokolov snipes the tying goal. ?? We’re in for a crazy finish! pic.twitter.com/8qhPFQ2AQP

“I just got the puck, and I knew I have a good shot and I just shot it upstairs and it went in,” Morozov said. “I just couldn’t even believe that it went like that. … Just an amazing feeling.”

Sokolov has three goals in six WJC games, and in his second season with Cape Breton of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League leads the team with 51 points (24 goals, 27 assists) in 30 games.

He received a C rating from NHL Central Scouting in its preliminary players to watch list, meaning he’s expected to be drafted between the fourth and sixth rounds.

Hofer growing into No. 1 goalie role

When Canada started building its WJC roster at the World Junior Summer Showcase in late July, Joel Hofer (St. Louis Blues) was building his game at home in Winnipeg.

Canada had five goalies at the Summer Showcase in Plymouth, Michigan. But it will be Hofer, who wasn’t really on the radar at that time, in goal at Ostravar Arena in Ostrava against Russia in the championship game.

“It’s unbelievable,” Hofer said. “I wasn’t invited to the showcase. Obviously it was a goal of mine, just like a lot of other guys.”

Hofer built his case through strong play this season with Portland of the Western Hockey League, where he has 20 wins, a 1.81 goals-against average and .937 save percentage in 27 games. Since relieving Nicolas Daws (2020 Draft eligible) during the second period of Canada’s 6-0 loss to Russia on Dec. 28, Hofer has allowed six goals on 110 shots (.945 save percentage) in five games.

“He’s a really composed guy,” said defenseman Jamie Drysdale, Hofer’s roommate during the tournament. “I think he’s a great guy, very calm. He does his thing in net and we’re very grateful for that how he’s been playing.”

Drysdale took advantage of ice time for Canada

Drysdale is one of the top defensemen available for the 2020 NHL Draft, but he was Canada’s seventh defenseman through the first five games of the World Juniors. But with Bowen Byram (Colorado Avalanche) out against Finland because of an illness, Drysdale played 20:28, by far the most ice time he’s gotten during the WJC, and he scored his first goal.

Tweet from @TSN_Sports: Jamie Drysdale gets in on the ridiculous start, Canada leads 3-0! ?? pic.twitter.com/9yWfn8lVt4

“I think just being able to get on the board, as well as our team getting off to such a good start, I think was really exciting for us,” Drysdale said.

The 17-year-old’s previous high was 15:21 in the quarterfinals against Slovakia. He started the tournament playing 8:27 against the United States.

“I think obviously from game one to now I think the confidence level has gone up,” Drysdale said. “With this team, it’s just a really comfortable environment and very supportive. They encourage you to do your thing out there and that’s just what I tried to do.”

Canada coach Dale Hunter said he’s been happy all along with Drysdale.

“He’s got a great brain, his feet are good,” Hunter said. “He plays a smart game. He doesn’t overextend himself. He’s one of those players that’s a natural.”

Drysdale received an A rating from NHL Central Scouting in its preliminary players to watch list for the 2020 draft. The 5-foot-11, 175-pound right-handed shot has 31 points (six goals, 25 assists) in 29 games with Erie of the Ontario Hockey League.

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Kevin Durant Didn't Previously Express Wish For Nets To Fire Steve Nash, Sean Marks – RealGM.com

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Kevin Durant met with Joe Tsai recently in London and it was revealed he expressed a lack of faith in the direction of the Brooklyn Nets. Durant reportedly issued an ultimatum that he is not interested in continuing with the Nets if Steve Nash remains as head coach and Sean Marks continues running the front office.

“The timing of it is also unusual,” said Brian Windhorst on Tuesday. “While star players have gotten coaches fired for decades and will get them fired for decades, he didn’t express this, as far as I’m aware to the Nets at the end of the season. And he didn’t express this to the Nets when he made his trade demand. So doing it now is a maneuver. A maneuver that I don’t think worked. 

“Because as I talk to teams out there, they don’t think his increased his trade value, they think this hurt his trade value.”

Windhorst also noted that Tsai statement of support for Nash and Marks also includes a sentence the league paid strong attention to stating “We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”

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Thousands of tickets still available for world junior hockey tournament in Edmonton – CBC Sports

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Odd summer timing and an ongoing sexual assault scandal at Hockey Canada could be the reason thousands of tickets to the world junior championship are still available on the eve of the tournament, says an Edmonton professor.

Prof. Dan Mason, who teaches in the faculty of kinesiology, sport, and recreation at the University of Alberta, said when Canada hosts, there are usually so many fans who want to see the home team take the ice that they are willing to buy Hockey Canada’s packaged games that include teams that are not Canadian.

“So Latvia vs. Slovakia, for example, those games will be sold out as well because in order to get the tickets to watch Canada play, you have to buy a package that includes some of the other games,” he said on Friday.

“The fact that there are still Team Canada tickets available, that tells you the demand is much lower than it usually is for this kind of event.”

WATCH l World junior tournament to go ahead amidst Hockey Canada controversy:

World junior hockey tournament to go ahead amidst Hockey Canada controversy

7 hours ago

Duration 2:07

Ticket sales for the World Junior Hockey Championships in Edmonton are below expectations as the tournament kicks of this week in the shadow of an ongoing sexual assault scandal at Hockey Canada.

The tournament runs from Aug. 9-20 at Rogers Place in Edmonton.

The initial 2022 championship in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alta., was called off Dec. 29 after just four days because of rising COVID-19 cases among players and officials, which forced game forfeitures.

The 10-country tournament will be minus Russia, barred from participating by the International Ice Hockey Federation because of that country’s invasion of Ukraine.

Holiday tradition

Around 1,500 tickets are still available for purchase on Ticketmaster to the first game between Czech Republic and Slovakia on Tuesday. About 1,300 tickets are available for the next day when Canada takes on Latvia. About 1,500 seats for the final game are also available with hundreds of other tickets to watch the 11-day tournament.

This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake … or do something summer-related.— Edmonton professor Dan Mason on poor ticket sales for an August world juniors

Mason said the timing of the games could be why interest is so low. The tournament typically runs over the Christmas holidays.

“Over the past 30 years or so, TSN has built the world juniors into this holiday event that people partake in,” he said.

“I watch it with my family over the [Christmas] break though so it’s kind of become part of our holiday tradition.

“This time of year, you probably already had plans to go to the lake, go to the mountains or do something summer-related. I don’t think we’re willing to give up those plans to watch hockey.”

Many people could also be waiting for a former judge on the Supreme Court of Canada to begin independently reviewing Hockey Canada’s governance amid calls for a change of leadership.

The review comes after members of the 2018 world junior team were accused of a group sexual assault after a gala event, and after Hockey Canada reached a settlement.

“I think there’s people who weren’t sure if they would go or not, and maybe deciding not to go because of that,” Mason said.

The CEO of Explore Edmonton, which promotes tourism in the Alberta capital, said in an email the marketing organization paused its promotion of the games in response to the allegations.

“As the host city for the upcoming tournament, we continue to have discussions with Hockey Canada officials about their plans to address the need for change,” said Traci Bednard.

Mason said inflation and less disposable income could be other factors working against the tournament.

“Canada may be more focused on that player development piece than trying to sort of make money off of a tournament being held in the summer,” he said.

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Nets owner Tsai backs coach, GM amid reported Durant standoff – theScore

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Brooklyn Nets owner Joe Tsai has pledged his support of the coaching staff and front office after Kevin Durant reportedly demanded that the team trade him or fire head coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks

Tsai took to Twitter on Monday, saying, “Our front office and coaching staff have my support. We will make decisions in the best interest of the Brooklyn Nets.”

Durant’s ultimatum is apparently a result of his lack of faith in the team’s direction, The Athletic’s Shams Charania reported earlier Monday. The 33-year-old is firm in his stance, Charania adds.

The former MVP requested a trade at the end of June following a disappointing season that ended in a first-round exit. Little was known at the time about his reasons for the decision.

The Nets have reportedly had discussions with nearly every team in the league in hopes of getting a historic package of players and draft picks in return for Durant. Brooklyn reportedly proposed a trade with the Toronto Raptors involving Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes and talked about a deal with the Boston Celtics that would include star Jaylen Brown.

The Raptors, Celtics, and Miami Heat are seen as the most likely trade destinations for Durant, sources told Charania.

The Nets aim to take “every last asset” from their trade partner in any deal for Durant, according to Charania.

Nash, a Hall of Fame point guard, has been at the helm of the Nets for two seasons. It is his first job in professional coaching. Meanwhile, Marks has held the position of general manager since 2016 after being an assistant for the San Antonio Spurs.

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