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Player grades: Ennis, Athanasiou deliver strong debuts but Oilers fall in OT – Edmonton Journal



Oilers 3, Ducks 4 (OT)

Edmonton Oilers fought back twice to earn a point in Anaheim on Wednesday, but a new bugaboo came up to bite them on the rear end for the fifth time this season. That would be the tendency of their stars to overstay their welcome on the first shift of overtime and get burned in the second minute. Their previous four losses in OT came at 1:14, 1:13, 1:09, and 1:14, with at least one if not both of their top players stranded on the ice sucking wind after an overlong shift. The goal happened a bit later this time, at 2:05, but the key turning point came when a tired Connor McDavid took a tripping penalty at … wait for it … 1:09 of the extra frame. This just seconds after the superstar eschewed an opportunity to make a safe line change after an already-long shift.

Credit where due, McDavid first played a key role in the one point, earning secondary assists on all three Edmonton goals, but his lapse in OT proved costly. It was a ticky tack call — the kind McDavid never seems to get when he is on the receiving end of various hacks, whacks, and worse — but he did tap Sonny Milano on the thigh pad, and Milano sold it like a pro.

Milano went on to score the game winner on the subsequent powerplay, his second of the night in his Ducks debut. He was among eight players on the two teams playing their first game with a new team after a flurry of activity by both clubs at the trade deadline.

McDavid’s two new wingers, Tyler Ennis and Andreas Athanasiou, set each other up for a goal apiece, while Leon Draisaitl also connected on the powerplay. That was enough to overcome some dreadful defensive lapses that led to all three Anaheim goals in regulation. Oilers actually controlled large sections of this one, outshooting the Ducks 32-21 and holding a 17-11 advantage in Grade A scoring chances. But their defensive breakdowns tended to be major lapses and ultimately, their undoing.

Player grades

#6 Adam Larsson, 5. Got on the wrong side of Milano in overtime and failed to tie up his stick, which was quickly used to tap home the game winner.

#15 Josh Archibald, 5. Stepped into Kailer Yamamoto’s spot with Draisaitl and RNH, but the trio failed to click. Arch’s energy was down a couple of quarts, but the same could be said for a significant number of Oilers on this night. Found himself replaced by Chiasson and returned to the bottom six in the third. Did chip in 2:41 on the penalty kill. 0 shots, 2 hits.

#16 Jujhar Khaira, 5. His game continues to come around as he’s been winning more battles along the walls and cycling the puck well. Had a glorious chance on a shorthanded 2-on-1 with RNH in the third, but the pass was ahead of him and he redirected it wide of the target.

#23 Riley Sheahan, 4. His bad turnover started the sequence of pain on the first Ducks goal, as his teammates played flag football behind him. 0 shot attempts and plenty of struggles making clean plays with the puck.

#25 Darnell Nurse, 3. Seemed to be lacking his usual fierceness. Burned on the second Ducks goal when he collapsed away from the slot, leaving it wide open for the goal scorer to cruise into and score easily. Also got burned on the 3-2 when he barreled into the corner and took himself right out of the play, which quickly collapsed behind him. Also beaten by a pass on the overtime winner. Not his night.

#27 Mike Green, 4. Showed the reason he was acquired on his very first shift with a crisp 30-foot breakout pass right on the tape of a teammate. For some reason he turned away from the slot on the first Ducks goal, leaving Milano carte blanche to reach out and chip a one-handed shot past Smith.

#28 Andreas Athanasiou, 7. Made a good impression in his Oilers debut with a goal and an assist. Made a lovely pass through a defender’s skates and right on to the tape of Ennis for the first Edmonton tally, then scored the third himself when he went hard to the net front and was able to find the puck that had trickled through John Gibson and tap it home with just 4:35 left in regulation. Was a little too deferential on one play when hye twice had the puck in good shooting position but chose to pass it off both times.

#29 Leon Draisaitl, 5. Dangerous all night with 10 shot attempts, one of which found twine when he buried his 37th of the year and 13th on the powerplay to tie the game at 2. Rang another rocket off the iron, and had a third from point blank range blocked by a hero play by Hampus Lindholm. Even without sparkplug Kailer Yamamoto his line controlled play and shot shares. Another heavy workload on the dot, where he posted 14/24=58%. But, his soft defensive coverage was part of the problem on two Ducks goals and ruined what was otherwise a pretty good night. Did make the highlight reels with a mind-boggling reaction play to control a puck that was shot behind him inside the blueline. Played 23:57 to lead all forwards.

#39 Alex Chiasson, 5. Chipped in on 3 Oilers scoring chances, all of them on the powerplay where he does his best work. One a pass in tight to the net, one a goalie screen, one a short-trange shot which he tried to jam home from inside the blue paint. In other words, business as usual for the rangy French Canadian.  Quiet at even strength, though, and seemed out of synch when he got promoted to the Drai-Nuge line in the third.

#41 Mike Smith, 5. Just so-so. While he could sue for non-support on several Ducks goals, he was at least partly at fault on the first with a mis-timed poke check just as the shooter chipped the puck past his blocker hand. Not enough big saves, though he did deliver a critical one with 90 seconds left in regulation when he stuffed Michael Del Zotto’s redirection from the edge of the blue paint. 21 shots, 17 saves, .810 save percentage.

#52 Patrick Russell, 5. One ugly turnover led to a dangerous shot against, but he also chipped in on two good looks at the offensive end. His usual strong work along the walls.

#60 Markus Granlund, 4. If his assignment was to make 7 minutes of the game disappear without incident, mission accomplished. Did the little things right, and the big things not at all.

#63 Tyler Ennis, 8. Edmonton native and Knights of Columbus grad had a standout performance in his Oilers debut. Skated hard and with purpose with and without the puck. Went hard to the net and made an expert deflection of Athanasiou’s pass to give Edmonton life at 2-1 down. Enabled the tying goal with a hard outside rush and shot which probably should have been stopped and held, but wasn’t, allowing A.A. to chip the rebound home. Led the Oilers in shots (4) and hits (3).

#74 Ethan Bear, 6. Has taken his game to another level in recent times, consuming monster minutes (26:51 in this one) while assuming additional responsibility in the absence of Oscar Klefbom. Clearly the d-corps’ top puckmover at this point in time. He put on a master class in playing the point on a third period powerplay, roaming the full width of the line to handle several passes and a couple of clearing attempts, keeping the puck in and the pressure on, which eventually resulted in the 2-2 goal. Chipped in on 6 Grade A scoring chances for the Oilers. Was among those burned on 2 different Ducks goals, but it was a more a matter of being unable to put out the fire than actually starting it.

#82 Caleb Jones, 6. Nearly scored from the lip of the crease and drew a penalty in the attempt. Took a punition of his own for a needless hold in the corner. Is playing with more confidence by the week and imposing his considerable strengths — mobility, puck movement — on large portions of each game.

#84 William Lagesson, 5. Surprise starter in the eyes of some, who thought him to be the logical choice to come out in favour of Green. Instead he partnered with Green as Matt Benning drew the short straw. He too is looking more comfortable as he gains experience, making decent outlet passes and firing his sneaky hard wrist shot from unexpected spots.  But an apparent miscommunication between him and Green was a contributor to the first Anaheim goal.

#91 Gaetan Haas, 5. Played 8:38 during which not a lot happened. Did manage one decent jam shot from very close range.

#93 Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, 6. Jumped on McDavid’s deflected pass right in the slot, but made the quick decision to quickly move the disc to Draisaitl, who buried it. Fired 4 shots of his own and did some good work on the penalty kill. Never saw the ice in overtime.

#97 Connor McDavid, 7. Found some chemistry with his new linemates, even as there’s work to be done. Made one area pass to an spot Athanasiou had already skated through, suggesting there’s a speed adjustment that needs to be fine-tuned. Assisted on all three Edmonton goals, secondaries all, but he got the puck into good places for others to finish the job. His hands weren’t at their best, as he had a couple of uncharacteristic bobbles and whiffs. Chipped in on a whopping 11 Grade A scoring chances for the Oilers Also posted a stellar 11/13=85% on the dot. Made one stellar defensive stop to thwart a backdoor play, but made a critical mistake in the last 90 seconds of regulation when he lost track of his man, Michael Del Zotto, who burst free to the edge of the crease for a great chance at would have been a killer goal-against. Drew one penalty but it could have been three or four, given he was spilled by one defender who got his stick between 97’s legs, and taken down by a diving Josh Manson on a would-be breakaway. But when McDavid was on the other end of a borderline call, the stripes didn’t hesitate. In overtime… and that was all she wrote.

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LEAVINS: Oilers add Ennis

STAPLES: Huge move as Holland trades for Athanasiou

McCURDY: Player grades as McDavid comes back against Kings

LEAVINS: 9 Things about the Oilers at the trade deadline

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Rory MacDonald announces retirement after 2022 PFL Playoffs exit – MMA Fighting



Rory MacDonald is stepping away from competition after a devastating loss.

The former Bellator welterweight champion and longtime UFC contender announced his retirement on Sunday, one day after losing by first-round TKO to Dilano Taylor in the 2022 PFL semifinals.

MacDonald, 33, broke the news via Instagram.

“My time has come to put the gloves down for good,” MacDonald wrote. “I’m so thankful for this sport and every person I’ve been able to meet along the way.

“I started this sport as a 14-year-old kid, I still remember my first day and knowing this is what I want to spend my life doing. The passion for martial arts and becoming a pro MMA fighter gave me hope and a way to a better life! And I’m so thankful to God for putting that gym Toshido MMA in kelowna in my path. It truly changed the direction of my life and saved me!

“What an adventure this career has been, 17 years of professional fighting. It all came and went so fast! So many painful trainings that are etched into my being, travelling to all parts of the planet and meeting so many people.

“I’ve learned so much about myself through this career, not all of it good. And I’ve made so many mistakes along the way, but here I am 33 years old a better man because of those mistakes, to which I’m very grateful I’ve grown up.”

MacDonald went on to thank fans for their support, as well as the UFC, Bellator, and the PFL.

Debuting in 2005, MacDonald quickly emerged as one of the hottest prospects in his native Canada, beginning his career 10-0. He eventually took his talents to Montreal’s Tristar Gym, where he trained alongside UFC welterweight champion Georges St-Pierre. MacDonald joined the UFC in 2010, where he won eight of his first 10 fights, including a dominant decision win over future welterweight champion Tyron Woodley.

“The Red King” had his shot at the UFC’s 170-pound title at UFC 189 in July 2015, where he lost by fifth-round TKO to Robbie Lawler in one of the greatest fights in MMA history.

In 2017, MacDonald signed with Bellator and captured a welterweight title by beating Douglas Lima in just his second bout for the promotion. He successfully defended his belt twice before ceding it back to Lima in the finals of a grand prix tournament. MacDonald also unsuccessfully challenged Gegard Mousasi for the Bellator middleweight championship.

The last leg of MacDonald’s career came with the PFL. He signed with the league in 2019, but failed to recapture his previous success, going just 2-4 including the stunning loss to Taylor that was the final fight of his career.

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Near lead, Cameron Smith penalized a day after playing ball from 'wrong place' – Golf Channel



MEMPHIS, Tenn. – As if his week hasn’t been eventful enough, Cameron Smith began the final round of the FedEx St. Jude Championship four shots off the lead after being assessed a two-stroke penalty for “playing [his] ball from the wrong place” at No. 4 on Saturday. 

After starting the day at 11 under and two shots off the lead held by J.J. Spaun, Smith was informed by PGA Tour rules officials that he was now 9 under and four back after it was determined he violated Rule 14.7.

Officials discovered the violation after reviewing footage from Round 3 of Smith’s drop at the fourth hole, a par 3. The footage shows Smith dropping and playing his next shot from the hazard line, which is a violation of Rule 17.1 (when ball is in penalty area), turning his bogey-4 on the hole into a triple-bogey 6.

Full-field scores from FedEx St. Jude Championship

“When I asked him the question [if his golf ball was on the hazard line], unfortunately, he said to me, ‘No, the ball was definitely touching the line,’” said Gary Young, the PGA Tour’s chief referee. “At that point there’s no turning back. That was a moment where I know that the player has knowledge that the ball was touching the line, he just simply didn’t understand the rule that it requires the entire ball to be outside of the penalty area and in his relief area.”

The ruling took on added significance given Smith’s position on the FedExCup points list, No. 2, and his quest to overtake Scottie Scheffler atop the world ranking. The Australian will move to No. 1 on both lists with a victory Sunday at TPC Southwind.

“His answer to me is, ‘The rules are the rules,’” Young said. “He just accepted the two-stroke penalty … he very calmly left the office and he’s just going about his business for the day.”

It was yet another headline for Smith who has dominated them this week. According to Australian golfer Cam Percy and a report in The Telegraph, Smith is poised to jump to LIV Golf, the Saudi-backed rival league. Smith has repeatedly declined to address the reports.

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Defence costs scuffling Blue Jays as they drop series to Guardians –



TORONTO – Up as the potential tying run during a sudden attempt at a seventh-inning rally, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., dug in for a fourth time against Shane Bieber and with the count 1-1, let a middle-down fastball at 93.5 m.p.h. go by.

The ball barely popped Austin Hedges’ glove when the Toronto Blue Jays slugger whipped his bat through the zone, frustrated he didn’t swing. Bieber’s next pitch was a slider to the same spot, inducing a weak ground ball that ended the inning and preserved the lead.

It was a plate appearance symbolic of the Blue Jays as a whole right now, a team stuck between speeds, and the results are showing it. A 7-2 setback to the Cleveland Guardians on Sunday afternoon was a sixth loss in eight outings, with defeats in consecutive series after splits in a pair of sets beforehand, all against fellow contenders.

The Blue Jays, now 61-52, haven’t won back-to-back August games and another tough week looms with the Baltimore Orioles, against whom they’re 2-4, arriving for three games beginning Monday. A four-game set at the New York Yankees, whom they’re 4-8 against, is right after.

“That at-bat, in a nutshell, if you look at what Beiber was doing over the course of the game, it wasn’t too many back-to-back heaters, so he probably had Vladdy in between,” interim manager John Schneider said of the pivotal seventh inning confrontation. “And overall, if you have a pitching staff like (Cleveland’s) that locates, we have to make an adjustment. We have to be able to either lay off pitches or when they are in the middle of the plate, do some damage and get on base. So I think that’s the adjustment going forward and looking forward to doing it against Baltimore.”

A boost is expected Monday when George Springer is likely to be activated from the injured list. Ross Stripling is due to return for a start Wednesday, pushing Jose Berrios back a day to the opener in the Bronx.

Neither will right things on their own.

Sunday’s loss, before a crowd of 41,002, was among the more frustrating recent setbacks, the Blue Jays bled by a Cleveland team adept at delivering perpetual papercuts.

Kevin Gausman fell victim to that, allowing five runs in 4.2 innings, the four that followed Amed Rosario’s solo shot in the first inning each the by-product of BABIP blues.

Austin Hedges’ go-ahead RBI single in the second, for example, came on a blooper that dropped just in front of Raimel Tapia in centre field and then bounced over his head allowing Owen Miller to score from second.

In the third, a throwing error by Alejandro Kirk on Tyler Freeman’s stolen base put the third baseman on third and allowed him to score easily when Cavan Biggio didn’t get to a Hedges fly ball down the right-field line for a double.

In the fifth, a single by Josh Naylor of Mississauga, Ont., off a diving Whit Merrifield deflected into centre and allowed Rosario, who’d advanced on a wild pitch, before a Miller double brought home the fifth run.

With tighter defence, the damage could easily have been far more limited and the game not quite as out of reach.

“Sometimes it’s the way the game goes, it’s baseball,” said Gausman. “Once the pitch leaves your hand, you can’t determine the outcome a lot of times. It’s frustrating at times, but that’s the way it goes. You just kind of realize that it’s going to change at some point. I’ve had a lot of bad luck this year, but at some point it will turn.”

The Blue Jays did have their chances, tying the game 1-1 in the first on a Teoscar Hernandez RBI double that left men on second and third with one out, but Bieber recovered to strike out Matt Chapman before Naylor swallowed up a Tapia smash at 105.6 m.p.h. at first base.

Another chance to put up a crooked number came in the fifth when the Blue Jays again put men at second and third with one out, but Guerrero waved at a first-pitch slider before again swinging at the pitch for a run-scoring groundout. Kirk then lined a ball to right-centre but Myles Straw just chased it down to end the inning.

At 0-for-4 on the day, Guerrero’s hitting streak came to an end at 22 games. Lourdes Gurriel Jr., whose stay in the leadoff spot will end with Springer’s return, had three of the Blue Jays’ eight hits Sunday. Over the weekend, they managed just four runs on 17 hits while having their approach tested by Cal Quantrill, Triston McKenzie and Bieber.

“Overall, guys over the course of the year are doing a good job of deciding which pitches to swing at – right now, probably in a little bit of a rut,” said Schneider. “And when you’re facing a pitching staff that locates well, it just compounds that a little bit. But what we preach all the time is get a good pitch, don’t miss it and lay off the ones that are edge, edge off.”

The improved Orioles’ pitching staff won’t offer quite the same test but as they hang around in the increasingly clustered wild-card standings, taking them lightly would be a mistake. Building some momentum against them would offer a good springboard into the looming clash with the Yankees, the first meeting for the rivals since June, when New York took two of three here.

“Obviously, we’re not playing our best baseball right now, but we’ve got the Orioles coming into a new series,” said Gausman. “We’ve got to be able to just turn the page and realize that you can’t dwell too much on it, especially this time of year. We’ve put ourselves in a good spot now. We’ve just got to kind of keep our head down and really just kind of focus on ourselves and not really focus too much on what’s going on around the league.”

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