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Maple Leafs are bracing for a rough reception in Tampa



The most recent time the Maple Leafs were in Amalie Arena for the NHL playoffs, they were less than 11 minutes from ending their string of first-round failures.

But the Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov tied Game 6 of that series and Brayden Point won it in overtime. That was the last lead Toronto held in the series, losing it all on two goals from unlikely clutch sniper Nick Paul in Game 7 at home.

The Leafs are back in the Sunshine State, their curse extended to six straight losing series and with just one rung of this current four-win ladder ascended.

They’ll have to win at least one of two in Tampa Bay this weekend — maybe both or Game 6 — to avoid another seventh and deciding scenario which has been so unkind to them.


“I think (last year’s close call at Amalie) helps,” said coach Sheldon Keefe as the club headed for the airport on Friday. “But each season is a different experience. We’re going into this in a different spot. Last time (Game 3 in May of 2022) we were coming off a loss on home ice, so these are the different emotions you are managing.”

It’s already been bumpy this week, beginning with a shockingly timid 7-3 loss on Tuesday, the tables turning two nights later in a 7-2 win where everything went Toronto’s way.

“We have to continue to get better, knowing it will get harder,” Keefe said. “We’re in a best-of-five series now and we don’t have home ice. You’re just hoping your group continues to rise.”

The anticipated hostile environment in Amalie, without their customary travelling support group of fans, shouldn’t overwhelm the Leafs. There, and in Washington and Boston (where Toronto could go next if it gets through this series) the Leafs’ record is 4-8 in the Auston Matthews-Mitch Marner post-season era.
Three of those defeats were in extra time.

Winger Zach Aston-Reese has been a Leaf for only this year, but he’s already been part of big games in some traditionally rough venues. The Leafs carved out a road point or two this season from three of the four teams that eventually topped their divisions, other than the Vegas Golden Knights.

“Our guys have dealt with the road a lot,” Aston-Reese said, recounting video he saw of John Tavares’ highly charged return to Long Island in 2019. The current captain was burned in effigy by New York zealots who felt snubbed by his decision to leave.

“That was crazy. But these guys are professional about (not being intimidated),” Aston-Reese said. “You’ve got to expect their building will be rockin’. We got smacked in Game 1 and they come out and do the same thing. You’ve got to expect they’ll respond.”

The Leafs didn’t practise on Friday, in favour of a team meeting.

The Lightning, meanwhile, hopes to have injured defencemen Victor Hedman and Erik Cernak returning for Saturday or Monday after both missed Game 2 with injuries.

Kucherov, Point and Paul are all still very much part of a team that has been to three straight Stanley Cup finals.

“You look at last year’s (first two games), a bit of a roller-coaster,” said Matthews. “It was a great response from our group last night. Now the hardest part is going out there and doing it again.”

The Leafs scored two power-play goals in Game 2, giving them four in the series to match last year’s entire seven-game output. Just as noteworthy, they cashed a 6-on-5 delayed penalty which Matthews acknowledged was tricky to organize in the midst of a line change, recovering the initial shot that went wide with Ilya Samsonov rushing to the bench.

The puck ended up being threaded from Matthews to Morgan Rielly to William Nylander for a perfect shot past Andrei Vasilevskiy.

“That was a big goal, something we’ve tried to worked on and capitalize,” said Matthews of adapting to an odd-man situation without a faceoff. “It’s a chess match, taking what’s given to you.”


The Leafs, who are also attempting to take their first series since 2004, have lost the first game in six of those eight matchups … After Thursday’s result, Toronto’s combined record following a loss this season is 25-5-3, outscoring opponents 126-73 … Who had money on rookie Matthew Knies getting more penalty minutes in his first Leafs/NHL playoff game than rogues Tiger Williams, Wendel Clark, Bob McGill or Tie Domi? Knies was called for two minor penalties — a hook and a slash.



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Sail Canada says coach Lisa Ross was fired for financial reasons, not because she was pregnant – The Globe and Mail



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Lisa Ross was fired from the team’s coaching staff nine days after telling Sail Canada in March that she was pregnant and would take maternity leave later this year.Meghan Tansey Whitton/The Canadian Press

Lisa Ross wants her job back.

The two-time Olympic sailor for Canada was named to the national sailing team’s coaching staff three years ago.

Nine days after telling Sail Canada in March that she was pregnant and would take maternity leave later this year, Ross was fired.


Ross was in Andora, Italy, where she’d been coaching Canadian sailors at the European championship. She was about to head to Spain for more competitions and training camps.

The 46-year-old from Mahone Bay, N.S., said that during the March 17 video call with Sail Canada’s chief executive officer Don Adams and high-performance director Mike Milner, she was told to pack her bags and return to Canada.

“It was strange and shocking,” Ross told The Canadian Press. “It was a five-minute phone call where I was fired, basically, without cause.

“I was in Europe. I was in the middle of a planned six-week trip.”

Sail Canada said lack of money, and not Ross’s pregnancy, was the reason for her firing.

“Sail Canada terminated Lisa Ross’s contract for financial reasons which had nothing to do with Lisa Ross being pregnant,” the organization said in a statement to The Canadian Press.

“Discussions and the decision to terminate Lisa Ross’s contract took place well before she verbally informed Sail Canada High Performance Director that she was pregnant.”

Sail Canada said Ross’s salary was supported by Sport Canada Gender Equity funding, which was eliminated at the end of the 2021-2022 fiscal year.

“Sail Canada was able to maintain Lisa Ross’s position in the next fiscal year through the Return to Sport funding program but, unfortunately, that funding is no longer available in 2023-2024,” the organization said.

Ross’s annual salary was $80,000. The federal government renewed its funding for gender equity in sport in October with a commitment of $25.3-million over three years.

“This is not available at present but we have been informed it may be some time in the future,” Sail Canada said in a statement. “We do not know if female coaching will be part of the areas of funding.

Sail Canada said it made its decision to fire Ross “because of financial reasons based on the information available at the time of budget finalization.”

“With the 2023-2024 Olympic season fast approaching, and in order for Sail Canada to prioritize Olympic hopefuls and maintain a balanced budget, Sail Canada has to make drastic cuts to its High Performance budget.”

Sail Canada said it sought a Nova Scotia labour lawyer’s advice on Feb. 21 to vet the decision to dismiss Ross.

Ross departed for Europe at the end of February and had no inkling that her job was on the chopping block until she was sacked March 17.

“I just would have liked the opportunity, if funding was the issue, to visit any possibility of ensuring that I can continue in my role as one of the more senior coaches on the staff,” Ross said.

Sail Canada said it waited until after the European championship March 10-17 to fire her “so that it would not become a distraction for the athletes.”

Ross was the only woman on Sail Canada’s technical staff of a high-performance director and coaches.

Since her dismissal, Rosie Chapman was hired on a contract basis.

Chapman is partially subsidized by athletes and costs 20 per cent of a full-time salary, Sail Canada said.

Ross competed for Canada in 2004 in Athens in women’s three-person keelboat and 2008 in Beijing in women’s dinghy.

She coached laser sailor Brenda Bowskill at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Ross was named the Canadian sailing team’s development coach in 2020, but she coached the senior men’s laser team that year.

Ross didn’t coach at Tokyo’s Olympics in 2021. She was on maternity leave with her second child.

She was coaching the 49er FX women’s development team when she was fired. Her third child is due Sept. 1.

She’d planned to continue coaching until August when she could no longer fly.

Ross intended to be back with the athletes in time for January’s world championship and to help prepare them for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. She says she communicated that plan to Sail Canada the day she told the organization she was pregnant.

Milner replied that same day: “You should also know Rosie and I have been talking on and off for more than a year on joining our team and I think this is a great opportunity for the girls while you are on mat leave.”

Milner also wrote in that e-mail to Ross that his “initial thought” would be to have Chapman become the international coach after April’s Princess Sofia or Hyeres regattas “and focus you on domestic training.”

Ross has filed claims with Nova Scotia’s Labour Standards Board and Human Rights Commission, but has not sued Sail Canada.

“I’m not asking for a massive amount of money,” Ross said. “I’m asking for my job back.”

The World Sailing Trust recently launched a half-dozen recommendations under an initiative called Project Juno to “support better maternity policies in sailing.”

While Sail Canada insists her pregnancy did not cost Ross her job, it says the organization has pregnancy and parental leave policy “that is in keeping with the Ontario Employment Standards Act” and also subject to Sport Canada’s Athletes Assistance Program policies and procedures.

Ross says she has never seen that policy.

She hasn’t filed a complaint with the Office of the Sport Integrity Commissioner (OSIC), which was established almost a year ago to administer Canadian sport’s universal code of conduct. Sail Canada is a signatory to OSIC.

“I want my job back, so I want to focus on that,” Ross said. “I want to be a part of the sport system that I’ve been a part of since I was 17.

“I went to my first Pan Am Games when I was 17. It’s been a scary process to go through, just even with my relationship with Sail Canada because that’s been a huge part of my life and I want that to continue.”

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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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