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Oilers, Habs wait and see if Wednesday game a go after Monday's postponement –



The American-based NHL divisions have dealt with postponement challenges due to COVID-19 concerns this season. Now it’s the Canadian-based North Division’s turn.

The NHL announced Tuesday that the Montreal Canadiens have had their games through Sunday postponed.

The league made the announcement Tuesday, a day after the Canadiens game against the visiting Edmonton Oilers was postponed following the addition of Montreal forwards Joel Armia and Jesperi Kotkaniemi to the NHL’s COVID protocol list.

The NHL said decision was made by the medical groups from the league, the NHL Players’ Association and the Canadiens.

The league said it’s expected that the Canadiens will be able to re-open their facilities for practice on Monday pending COVID-19 test results over the next few days.

Montreal and Edmonton were scheduled to meet again Wednesday and Friday at the Bell Centre. The decision also affects a home game Sunday against Ottawa.

The Canadiens cancelled their off-day practice Tuesday but the Oilers were back on the ice Wednesday at the Bell Centre.

“You’ve got to try to take advantage of it,” Oilers coach Dave Tippett said of the unexpected break in the busy shortened season. “Amazingly we had a real up-tempo practice out there. I thought the guys were in great spirits. Maybe the extra day [off] was good for them.”

‘Weird situation’

The NHL announced the postponement of Monday night’s game about a half hour before the scheduled 7 p.m. opening faceoff.

“It is a bit of a weird situation,” said Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. “But obviously other teams have gone through it. It’s the situation we’re in this year. So we rolled with it and we’ll go from there.”

There was no immediate word on makeup dates for the games, the first North Division matchups to be postponed this season due to COVID protocol.

“You’ve got to roll with the punches a little bit,” Tippett said. “That’s exactly where it’s at. We know we’re going to have to make up the game somewhere. It’s part of what we’re dealing with this year.

“Hopefully it’s not a big concern and you just continue to move on. You look at the game in front of you and that’s the one you’ve got to prepare for and hopefully you play well.”

The start time for a game between the two teams on Feb. 11 was pushed back an hour after Edmonton forward Jesse Puljujarvi was placed on the protocol list. He was deemed eligible to resume team activities two days later.

Edmonton is tied with Toronto for top spot in the North Division standings with 42 points. The Maple Leafs have two games in hand on the Oilers.

North Division teams were idle Tuesday night. The Winnipeg Jets are alone in third place with 40 points, three more than the Canadiens.

There have been 41 games postponed this season because of COVID protocol. The truncated 56-game campaign began Jan. 13.

“Players hear and they see what’s going on around the league and it’s not out of the norm to have a game [postponed],” Tippett said. “It’s unfortunate that it’s happened to us but you just deal with it and move on.”

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Olympics-U.S. women to face Australia in women’s football at Tokyo Games



(Reuters) – The U.S. women’s national team will face Australia, Sweden and New Zealand at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, while in the men’s competition 2016 winners Brazil will take on Germany following the group stage draw on Wednesday.

The American women’s team are the reigning world champions and four-time winners of the Olympic tournament and will start as favourites in Tokyo, with Rio 2016 winners Germany failing to qualify.

Team GB women have drawn 2016 bronze medallists Canada, Chile and hosts Japan. Making only their second Olympic tournament appearance, Team GB will be led by England’s interim coach Hege Riise.

On the men’s side, Brazil will take on Germany, Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia.

Mexico, the 2012 gold medallists, were pitted against hosts Japan, South Africa and France.

The men’s team are usually restricted to selecting players under the age of 23, with just three overage players allowed.

However, the age bracket has been raised for the Tokyo Games in line with the one-year postponement of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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Rafael Nadal rallies from set down to advance in Barcelona



Top seed Rafael Nadal rallied from a set back to beat Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round at the Barcelona Open in Spain.

Nadal lost serve in the opening game of the match and wasn’t able to break Ivashka’s serve throughout the first set. He won just 70.6 percent of points on his first serve, was broken twice and had two double faults in an uncharacteristically poor showing on service in the opening set.

By the second set, he had righted his serve, winning 86.7 percent of points on his first serve in the second set and 83.3 percent in the third. He didn’t face a break point in either set.

In other action, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, No. 3 Andrey Rublev of Russia, No. 4 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, No. 6 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and No. 10 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada were among those advancing.

No. 9 Fabio Fognini of Italy defaulted for verbal abuse. He was losing 6-0, 4-4 to Zapata Miralles of Spain when the line judge reported him for swearing after a foot fault. He had been warned earlier in the match

Serbia Open

Top seed and home-country favorite Novak Djokovic needed just 68 minutes to top South Korean Soon-woo Kwon 6-1, 6-3 and advance to the quarterfinals in Belgrade, Serbia.

Djokovic capitalized on five of his eight service break opportunities in the win. In the next round, he’ll meet fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, the eighth seed, who needed three sets to oust Arthur Rinderknech of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Also advancing was the No. 2 seed, Matteo Berrettini, who defeated fellow Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 6-3. Fifth seed Filip Krajinovic beat Nikola Milojevic 6-1, 6-1 in an all-Serb match.


(Field Level Media)

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Ice hockey-Women’s world championships cancelled due to COVID-19



(Reuters) -The women’s ice hockey world championships set to be played in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia have been cancelled because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Canada, Hockey Canada said on Wednesday.

The announcement came one day before the 10 teams were to arrive to begin their quarantine ahead of the May 6-16 tournament.

“This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin,” said International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel in a statement.

“We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place. In the end, we must accept the decision of the government.”

The IIHF and Hockey Canada were informed by the Nova Scotia provincial government on Wednesday that the 10-country tournament could not go ahead due to safety concerns associated with COVID-19.

Still the news came as a shock after Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer had 24 hours earlier given the event the thumbs- up.

“At five o’clock this morning we were full go and at 7:30 am we were not,” explained Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney. “That is the way the world is right now and there is only so much we can control.

“At the end of the day there is a bigger game than the one we play here and quite honestly it is about the safety of the general public.”

The cancellation was another blow for the women’s game that has endured a number of recent setbacks, including the folding of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

It was also the second consecutive year the Nova Scotia world championships have been stopped by COVID-19.

“Definitely, a little bit of disbelief, a little shock, a lot of emotion,” said Canadian coach Gina Kingsbury, who pulled some players off the ice to deliver the bad news. “This is a group that has been through a lot this past year and two years so they are definitely familiar with disappointing news.”

Both the IIHF and Hockey Canada indicated they plan to play the world championships this year, possibly this summer, in Canada.

“Our intention, and that of the IIHF, is to reconnect with this event as a world championship in 2021 in Canada,” said Renney. “That’s our number one objective. We have every desire to hold this event in Canada.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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