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Leylah Fernandez wins, gives Canada lead over Belgium in BJK Cup qualifier



VANCOUVER — Canada is heading back to the Billie Jean King Cup finals after downing Belgium 3-2 in a qualifier Saturday.

Leylah Fernandez and Gabriela Dabrowski secured Canada’s spot with a 6-1, 6-2 win over Kirsten Flipkens and Greet Minnen in doubles action.

Earlier on Saturday, Minnen topped Toronto’s Katherine Sebov 6-2, 3-6, 6-3, and Fernandez of Laval, Que., rallied for a gritty 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 win over Ysaline Bonaventure.

It’s the first time in four meetings that Canada has bested Belgium in the women’s World Cup of tennis competition.


The Vancouver qualifier is one of nine being held around the globe this week, with winners advancing to November’s finals in a yet-to-be announced location.

Canada breezed through the first four points of Saturday’s one-hour, four-minute doubles match, taking a 1-0 lead and did not turn back. The two sides rallied several times, with the home nation consistently finding ways to come out on top.

Dabrowski showed why she sits seventh in the world women’s doubles rankings midway through the first set, deftly tapping a backhanded shot over the net to end an extended back-and-forth and put Canada up 5-1.

Playing her third match in two days, Fernandez looked anything but tired, darting across the court to scoop up balls and blast them back at the Belgians using her powerful forehand.

Canada pulled away once again early in the second with a series of shots Flipkens and Minnens simply couldn’t corral.

The decisive point came when Dabrowski sent a serve into Belgian territory where Minnen got a racket on it, but sent the return well out of bounds.

The Canadians celebrated with a hugs for each other and their teammates, who draped flags over their shoulders. The duo then took to centre court to salute the crowd.

Fernandez — No. 50 in the WTA’s singles rankings — cruised to a 6-0, 6-3 victory over Yanina Wickmayer on Friday, but ran into trouble early in her singles match against Bonaventure.

The 86th-ranked Belgian, who captured a 4-6, 6-4, 6-4 win over Vancouver’s Rebecca Marino on Friday, took a 4-1 lead in the first set as Fernandez fought to find her serve, chalking up four double faults in the first five games.

As the match progressed, the 20-year-old Canadian began mixing up her shots and luring her opponent to the net, forcing errors. She cut the deficit to 4-3 before Bonaventure took the set.

The players repeatedly traded points across a tightly contested second, with neither stealing the momentum.

Fernandez took a 6-5 lead thanks to a challenge that ruled Bonaventure’s shot just out of play. The Canadian crowd roared as she returned to the court from a changeover and Fernandez responded by breaking Bonaventure in the deciding game.

The former U.S. Open finalist continued to dominate in the third jumping out to a 3-0 cushion.

Bonaventure scored a break point late in the set to make it 5-2, but Fernandez responded with a break of her own to clinch the two-hour, 26-minute match.

Marino was initially set to battle Wickmayer in the second singles match of the day, but both players were swapped just before the match.

Both fought ailments on Friday, with Marino saying she was dealing with nausea while Wickmayer rolled her ankle and said the injury made serving painful.

Sebov was a late addition to Canada’s roster, replacing Canada’s top-ranked player Bianca Andreescu after she tore two tendons in her ankle at the Miami Open on March 27.

Andreescu, the world No. 27, sat courtside in Vancouver, cheering on her teammates.

The 24-year-old Sebov climbed to a career-high 136th spot in the rankings last week after a loss to Swiss powerhouse Belinda Bencic at the Charleston Open on April 5.

Minnen — ranked 171st in the world — took control of Saturday’s match early, going up 5-1 as her opponent struggled with consistency and fought to place her shots inside the baseline. The Canadian had 19 unforced errors across the first set.

Sebov left the court for an extended break between sets then jumped out to a quick 1-0 lead in the second. She broke Minnen to go up 4-2 and fired seven backhand winners to take the second.

The third saw Sebov take a 2-0 advantage before Minnen won four straight games. The Belgian sealed the win with a big forehand winner down the sideline.

Last year, Canada swept Latvia in a Vancouver qualifier and advanced to the finals in Glasgow, where they topped Italy before falling to Switzerland in group play. Switzerland went on to win the world title.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 15, 2023.



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Jubilant Latvians given national holiday after shock ice hockey win over USA



Latvians woke up to go to work Monday morning, only to find they didn’t have to. Their parliament had met at midnight to declare a holiday after the national ice hockey team chalked up its best result at the world championship.

Latvia, where hockey is hugely popular, co-hosted the men’s championship with Finland, and the country’s 4-3 overtime victory over the United States for the bronze medal on Sunday was greeted with jubilation.

A plane bringing the team home from Finland flew at low altitude over central Riga on Monday to greet thousands of fans who had gathered to welcome the squad.

At quarter to midnight on Sunday, members of parliament, sporting red-and-white national team jerseys, convened for a 10-minute session to unanimously declare the holiday.


It was “to strengthen the fact of significant success of Latvian athletes in the social memory of the society,” according to the bill’s sponsors.

The bill was introduced by a smiling member of parliament with her face painted in the colors of the national flag. Another giggled while trying to read out the names of absent parliamentarians, to laughter from many in the hall. There was an ovation from everyone present after the final vote.

But as dawn broke, there was confusion about who was working and who was not. Court hearings were canceled and schools and universities were closed, but national exams for high school students went ahead, with staff paid at holiday rates. Several hospitals chose to stay open to honor doctor appointments.

Businesses found themselves in some disarray, with Aigars Rostovskis, the president of the Latvian Chamber of Commerce and Industry, telling public broadcaster LSM: “It will be chaos for many.”

Canada won the gold medal, the team’s record 28th world title, by defeating Germany 5-2 on Sunday.



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Kamloops Blazers rout Peterborough Petes 10-2 in Memorial Cup – ESPN – ESPN India



KAMLOOPS, British Columbia — Logan Stankoven had a goal and four assists, Connor Levis had a goal and two assists and the Kamloops Blazers routed the Ontario Hockey League champion Peterborough Petes 10-2 in the Memorial Cup on Sunday.

The win came after Kamloops defenseman Kyle Masters was taken off the ice on a stretcher after he was hit and fell backward into the corner boards with less than seven minutes remaining. There was no immediate word on Masters’ condition.

Ryan Michael, Fraser Minten, Ashton Ferster, Matthew Seminoff, Dylan Sydor, Jakub Demek, Matthew Seminoff and Ryan Hofer each scored goals for the Blazers, who bounced back from an 8-3 loss to the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League champion Quebec Remparts on Friday night.


Caedan Bankier and Olen Zellweger also added two assists each for the Blazers, who scored four power-play goals and improved to 1-1 in the four-team, 10-day tournament.

Peterborough dropped to 0-2 and must beat Quebec on Tuesday to advance.

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IIHF Hockey: Canada downs Germany 5-2



TAMPERE, Finland –

Sammy Blais scored twice as Canada beat Germany 5-2 to capture gold at the men’s world hockey championship today.

Lawson Crouse, captain Tyler Toffoli and Scott Laughton also scored, and Peyton Krebs pitched in two assists for Canada.

“It feels really good,” Blais said. “We’ve been in Europe for a month and we’ve all waited for that moment to play for the gold-medal game. And we’re lucky enough to have won it.”


JJ Peterka and Daniel Fischbuch scored for Germany, which was in the gold-medal game for the first time since 1992 when the playoff format was introduced at the world championship. Moritz Seider added two assists.

Goaltender Samuel Montembeault made 21 saves for Canada, while German netminder Mathias Niederberger turned away 23 shots.

Canada won gold for the second time in three years after losing to Finland in overtime in last year’s world championship gold-medal game. It’s Canada’s 28th title at the event, the most of any country. Canada also has 16 silver and eight bronze medals from the tourney since 1931.

“I could not be more proud of this group. We battled through a lot of adversity and doubt to get to this point, and this win is so special,” Toffoli said. “We have such a close-knit team that came together quickly, and we always believed in each other.

“Everyone bought in and we played a great game today, and I am incredibly happy to be going back to Canada with a gold medal.”

Peterka opened the scoring for Germany at 7:44 of the first period with a wrist shot from the top of the left circle off a breakout that beat Montembeault.

Blais responded three minutes later, scoring in his third consecutive game after finishing off a pass from centre Peyton Krebs on a two-on-one to tie the game at 1-1.

Fischbuch gave Germany the lead again on a one-timer from the slot that trickled into the net 13:47 into the second period.

Canada replied with Crouse deflecting a pass from Krebs on the power play with 2:32 remaining in the second frame.

Blais then buried his second of the game 4:51 into the third period with a backhand off a rebound to put Canada ahead.

Toffoli added an insurance marker with eight minutes left, scoring with a wrist shot on a two-on-one to make it 4-2 in favour of Canada.

Laughton scored into an empty net with two minutes left to put the game out of reach.

“The commitment of everyone on our team was unbelievable. We knew we had to come here and play for each other and commit to a team game. We came here to represent Canada and make our country proud, and I am so blessed to be a part of this group,” said head coach Andre Tourigny.

“Our players wanted to win so bad. They wanted to bring a gold medal back to Canada, and when you have that mindset you can accomplish great things, and we did that tonight.”

Following the gold-medal game, MacKenzie Weegar was named best defenceman of the tournament and was selected to the media all-star team. Crouse, Montembeault and Weegar were also named Team Canada’s three best players of the tournament following the semifinals.


Defenceman Kristian Rubins scored his second goal 1:22 into overtime to lead Latvia to victory over the United States and earn a bronze medal earlier Sunday.

It’s the first top-three finish for Latvia at the tournament. Its previous best was a seventh place it managed three times.

The U.S. lost in the bronze-medal game for the second straight year. The U.S. team was cruising through the tournament with eight straight wins until it was defeated by Germany in the semifinal, 4-3 in overtime.

Rubins rallied Latvia with his first with 5:39 to go in the final period to tie the game at -33 to force overtime.

Roberts Bukarts and Janis Jaks also scored for Latvia.

Rocco Grimaldi scored twice for the U.S. in the opening period to negate Latvia’s 1-0 and 2-1 leads.

Matt Coronato had put the U.S. 3-2 ahead 6:19 into the final period.

This report from The Canadian Press was first published May 28, 2023.



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