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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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Schwarber hits grand slam, Red Sox hammer Astros to take ALCS lead – Sportsnet.ca

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BOSTON — Red Sox starter Eduardo Rodriguez walked off the mound with a six-run lead and a message for Carlos Correa and the rest of the Houston Astros:

Now it’s Boston’s time.

Tapping his wrist to mimic Correa’s Game 1 celebration, Rodriguez rode four more Boston homers — including Kyle Schwarber’s record-setting grand slam — to a 12-3 victory Monday night as the Red Sox took a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven AL Championship Series.

The taunt drew a rebuke from Red Sox manager Alex Cora, who reminded his pitcher that they still need two more wins to advance to the World Series for the fifth time since 2004. Games 4 and 5 are at Fenway Park on Tuesday night and Wednesday.

“It’s not that I’m mad at him,” said Cora, who was celebrating his 46th birthday. “We don’t act that way. We just show up, we play, and we move on.”

One game after J.D. Martinez and Rafael Devers each hit grand slams, Schwarber hit a second-inning 3-0 pitch 430 feet into the right field grandstand.

Boston is the first team ever with three slams in a postseason series.

“Electrifying. It’s unbelievable,” outfielder Alex Verdugo said. “You can have a big swing and get four runs in on just that one play — it’s huge.

“It’s one of the best plays in baseball, man. You give up a grand slam, it takes a lot out of you,” he added. “And just to kind of keep stepping on their neck and adding the pressure, it’s huge.”

Martinez and Devers each homered again, Christian Arroyo also hit one, and Kike Hernandez had two more hits for Boston, which opened 9-0 leads and coasted to victory in back-to-back games. Right fielder Hunter Renfroe ended it with a diving catch of Correa’s sinking line drive.

“They count as one (loss),” Astros manager Dusty Baker said. “We come back and win tomorrow and the series is even. You don’t like it tonight, but you come back in the morning.”

Rodriguez gave up five hits, including Kyle Tucker’s three-run homer, and struck out seven. He retired Correa to end the sixth and let the Astros shortstop know that his gesture in Game 1 was not appreciated.

Cora chastised Rodriguez before giving him a hug when he reached the dugout.

“He just told me `Don’t do that,’” said Rodriguez, who said he would apologize to Correa if he sees him. “It was something that was part of the moment. But (Cora) just told me, ‘We don’t do that here. Stay humble. Just go out there and play hard every time.”’

“Besides that,” Cora said, “he was outstanding.”

Correa said he “loved every single bit of it.”

“It’s just the way baseball should trend, moving forward,” he added. “You need to let the players have fun.”

Boston matched a franchise record with its seventh straight postseason win at home. The Red Sox had 11 hits in all, becoming the first team in major league history to reach double digits six straight times in a single postseason.

Hernandez, who has 18 hits during the playoffs and is batting .500 — both leading the majors — left the game after six innings.

Asked why, Cora said with a smile: “He has been running the bases a lot in the last few days, or weeks, or whatever.”

The Red Sox capitalized on two Astros errors and the struggles of Houston starter Jose Urquidy, who gave up six runs, five earned, on five hits and two walks, striking out one in 1 2/3 innings.

Rodriguez, who missed all of last season with COVID-related heart problems, retired the first six batters before running into the trouble in the third, when Tucker made it 9-3.

His outing enabled Cora to keep Nick Pivetta fresh for a Game 4 start.

ERRORS

To the delight of the Fenway fans, who targeted him with profane chants for his role in the Astros 2017 cheating scandal, Jose Altuve struggled at the plate and in the field.

A Gold Glove and AL MVP-winner, the three-time batting champion went 0 for 4 and let Arroyo’s chopper bounce off his chest for an error with the bases loaded in the second inning. One batter later, Schwarber hit Boston’s third grand slam in 11 innings.

The Red Sox, who only had three grand slams during the regular season, matched the 1998 Atlanta Braves as the only clubs to hit three in a single postseason. Boston has 20 homers this postseason, matching the 2004 Astros for the most through the first eight games of the playoffs, per MLB.com.

Altuve also waved at a throw from Martin Maldonado on Hunter Renfroe’s stolen base in the third; the error went to the catcher. The throw to third was also wild, but the Astros were saved another error when the ball missed the dugout and bounced off the padding back toward the field.

TRAINER’S ROOM

Astros: Baker said outfielder Jake Meyers, who injured his left shoulder crashing into the wall in Game 4 of the Division Series, is doing better and could start as soon as Tuesday.

UP NEXT

The teams play Game 4 on Tuesday night. The Red Sox are expected to rely on Pivetta, who was 9-8 with a 4.53 ERA in the regular season. Houston will call on RHP Zack Greinke, with RHP Cristian Javier ready to follow the veteran. Greinke has been limited over the past two months due to a neck issue and a positive COVID-19 test.

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Canada's women's team drops third straight game with 8-0 loss to Drumheller Dragons – The Globe and Mail

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The Drumheller Dragons held Canada’s women’s hockey team off the scoresheet Monday, blanking the national squad 8-0 in a tune-up game.

Adam Raesler scored a hat trick for the Alberta Junior Hockey League side, while Luke Fennig added a pair of goals. Ty Daneault, Grayson Dietrich and Ty Whitford all scored singles.

Canada’s Kristen Campbell stopped 19-of-22 shots in two periods of work and Emerance Maschmeyer made six saves in relief.

Eric Ward saved all five shots he faced in 29 minutes of play for the Dragons and Garrett Fuller finished out the game, making six stops.

Neither side capitalized with the man advantage, with Team Canada going 0 for 3 on the power play and Drumheller going 0 for 2.

Canada has now lost three games in a row to junior-A hockey teams as it prepares for the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing.

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Olympics-Small minority of U.S. Olympians oppose COVID-19 vaccine mandate, say officials

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The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) said on Monday its decision to make COVID-19 vaccines mandatory for those competing at next year’s Beijing Olympics has been met with some resistance.

In a bid to create a safe environment and restore some level of consistency in planning, the USOPC announced last month that Team USA athletes hoping to compete in the Beijing Olympics will be required to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19.

“The response is as you would expect: Within our general population, there are some people who are extremely happy that we introduced this policy,” Jonathan Finnoff, the USOPC’s chief medical officer, said during the virtual Team USA media summit.

“And there are others that are upset and would like to not have any mandate regarding vaccinations.”

According to Finnoff, it is only a “very small minority” of Team USA athletes who oppose the mandate and the USOPC is having one-on-one conversations with each one to discuss their feelings and explain why the decision was made.

Last month’s announcement by the USOPC came days before the International Olympic Committee said the Beijing Olympics would have tight COVID-19 measures in place to ensure the safety of all participants during the Feb. 4-20 event.

Finnoff said the “more stringent” Beijing measures, which he added unlike the USOPC’s rules will not grant religious exemption, would supersede the  U.S. policy.

Any athlete who is granted a medical exemption will have to go through a 21-day quarantine in Beijing before they can begin training ahead of their event.

“These are challenging times but the vaccine policy that we’ve put in place and that China has put in place is going to make the Games as safe as possible,” said Finnoff.

USOPC Chief Executive Sarah Hirshland said the COVID-19 mandate is all about the safety and health of the team.

“The presence of this virus makes the challenge greater for all of us in a Games environment but we are committed to doing everything we can to mitigate illness and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Hirshland.

 

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Pritha Sarkar)

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