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Maple Leafs report cards: Stars shine in dominant Game 2 victory



What an incredible response from the Toronto Maple Leafs.

The Leafs needed to be the more desperate team coming off a 7-3 loss in Game 1 and they ran the Lightning out of the building with dominant shift after dominant shift. Sheldon Keefe threw the matchup game out of the window and started his top line, and Mitch Marner immediately rewarded him by intercepting a pass, drawing a penalty, and scoring a power-play goal all in the first minute. Toronto took a 3-0 lead into the first intermission with goals from Marner, John Tavares, and William Nylander, and they didn’t panic when Ian Cole pulled the Lightning within two halfway through the second.

All four forward lines impressed, and Morgan Rielly was incredible. Scotiabank Arena was electric, and the Leafs didn’t just win, they bullied the Lightning out of the arena.

First star

Morgan Rielly


Rielly may have played his best period of the year in the first. He picked up a primary assist on Marner’s goal in the opening minute, but it was a rather simple pass that ended up in Marner’s skates. He picked up a much nicer primary assist on Tavares’ goal twelve minutes later by jumping up in the offensive zone and finding Toronto’s captain in the slot. He wasn’t done there, as he picked up his third primary assist of the period with an excellent cross-ice pass to find Nylander on a six-on-five opportunity.

He made a nice play to jump up into the play and set up a Tavares chance halfway through the second, but his teammate wasn’t able to beat Vasilevskiy this time. However, on his very next shift he jumped up yet again and set up Nylander for a deflection, which created a rebound for Tavares’ second of the game. He fully deserved the four-point game.

Second star

John Tavares

Tavares moved back to centre, and scored not one but two five-on-five goals before adding a power-play tally to pick up a hat-trick. For his first goal, he started the play off with a face-off win, then made a clever play to find a soft spot in the slot:

For his second, he went to the net and took advantage of a rebound:

Tavares then took the puck to the net at the end of a five-on-three to complete the hat-trick:

Third star

Mitch Marner

Toronto’s top line started the game, and they looked like they were shot out of a cannon. Marner intercepted a pass and forced Ian Cole to take a tripping penalty forty seconds in, then beat Vasilevskiy seven seconds into the power play:

His line spent the vast majority of the game in the offensive zone, and it felt like he was constantly in every passing lane. He scored again to put the Leafs up 6-1 by firing a puck off Brandon Hagel and in:

Player reports


William Nylander

Nylander is no longer on the top power-play unit, but he got a chance to play with Toronto’s other stars on a delayed penalty in the first, and he took full advantage to give the Leafs a 3-0 lead:

He set up Alex Kerfoot for a great chance in the slot four minutes into the second and picked up a primary assist on Tavares’ second of the night after creating a zone entry and deflecting a pass to create a rebound. He was on for Cole’s goal in the second and probably should have covered a different player, but he was excellent.

Matthew Knies

Knies made his playoffs debut with Michael Bunting out, and he took a penalty on a soft call less than five minutes in. While his line didn’t score, he left Keefe with no doubt that he belongs. He made a power move to spin around Nick Perbix and create a chance to start the second, and he dug the puck out from behind the net to set up a chance for Ryan O’Reilly halfway through the period. His line spent shift after shift in the offensive zone, and he was excellent in the cycle.

T.J. Brodie

Brodie completely shut down the Lightning during his minutes in the opening forty. He made a nice play to break up a Nikita Kucherov rush 12 minutes in, then had strong coverage on Brayden Point in the slot at the end of the first. He continues to be incredibly valuable to this team.

The fourth line (Zach Aston-Reese, David Kämpf, Sam Lafferty)

It’s tough to ask for more from your fourth line. They had plenty of heavy shifts and scored Toronto’s fifth goal to put the game out of reach. Aston-Reese started the play with a strong forecheck, Lafferty made a nice play to take the puck to the middle, and Kämpf found Aston-Reese in front. They were responsible defensively and difficult to play against.


Ryan O’Reilly

O’Reilly had a key face-off win ahead of Marner’s early power-play goal. He was a minus-one as the Leafs took a 6-1 lead into the second intermission, but he sure looked like prime O’Reilly. He moved into the bottom six and was tasked to drive his own line, and his unit with Knies and Noel Acciari looked like they’d never lose a puck battle.

Noel Acciari

Acciari wasn’t quite as noticeable as his linemates, but he certainly played a role in his unit’s impressive performance. He had a zone entry denial on Point on a first-period penalty kill, and set up a chance for O’Reilly by shooting for a rebound 13 minutes in. He also made a wicked move on a rush to set up a good chance three minutes into the second.


Auston Matthews

Matthews picked up two secondary assists in the first, and wasn’t on for a Lightning shot. His effort on the forecheck helped to force a turnover, and it quickly led to a Lightning penalty and Leafs goal. He had a hard shot off Andrei Vasilevskiy’s mask 14 minutes in, and wasn’t shying away from throwing his body around. Keefe cut his minutes in the third a little bit when the game was out of reach.

Calle Järnkrok

Järnkrok played less than 12 minutes due to all the power plays, but the Leafs owned 95 percent of the game’s five-on-five expected goals in his minutes. That works!


Jake McCabe

McCabe took an unnecessary roughing penalty halfway through the first after the whistle. However, Steven Stamkos picked up a double-minor by high-sticking him later in the period, and Toronto scored on the six-on-five. His pair shut down Tampa’s top lines quite effectively.

Alex Kerfoot

Kerfoot had a great chance in the slot four minutes into the second, but failed to convert. He’s asked to be a defensively responsible player to complement Tavares and Nylander, and he did that job effectively.

Luke Schenn

Schenn made a breakout pass 13 minutes in that led to a chance for O’Reilly. He fought Tanner Jeannot with the game out of reach in the third, and both players landed plenty of punches. His partner was the star, but it’s nice to have his physical presence in the lineup.

Ilya Samsonov

After his team jumped out to an early lead, Samsonov came up with a huge stop on Point on the Lightning’s first power play. He was busy early on, as Tampa had eight shots in the first half of the period, but he wasn’t tested again for the rest of the period thanks to a couple of key blocked shots.

He was tested again to start the second and made two nice saves on Point and Kucherov in the opening three minutes. Cole beat him nine minutes in on the Lightning’s 14th shot. That was the only meaningful goal that he let in, as the Leafs took the game over shortly after. Corey Perry beat him in the third when the game was already out of reach:


Mark Giordano 

Giordano fought Zach Bogosian three minutes in and got the better of a larger opponent. However, he was on for both of Tampa’s goals, and wasn’t on for any of Toronto’s. His coverage wasn’t great on Tampa’s second goal, but it was meaningless as the game was out of reach.

Justin Holl 

Holl was great in the first. He made a key block on a Stamkos shot on Tampa’s first power play, then followed it up with a key block on a shot from Kucherov on Tampa’s second power play. He was on for Tampa’s first goal when his other two teammates in the defensive zone covered the same player. This may not be popular, but I thought he played fairly well in the two periods that mattered. He had a mini fight with Perry in the third, but didn’t perform overly well.

Game Score

Final grade: A++

What more can you ask for? Toronto’s big four players all came to play, and both Rielly and O’Reilly looked like they are in their prime. Knies didn’t just fit in, he looked like a valuable contributor. All four forward lines played well, and Toronto’s bottom six played heavy shift after heavy shift. Toronto’s first two goals came immediately after a face-off win, and they won every 50-50 battle.

Tampa’s stars were invisible, and Toronto didn’t shy away from the physical play. With Victor Hedman and Erik Cernak out of the lineup, the Leafs challenged Tampa’s defencemen and dominated on the cycle. There were strong contributions up and down the lineup, and it was a perfect response to a miserable Game 1. They made one of the league’s best goaltenders look overmatched. It was a dominant performance.

What’s next for the Leafs?

Game 3 is set for Saturday at 7 p.m. in Tampa.

(Photo: Nick Turchiaro / USA Today)



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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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