Predictably enough, the Oilers used an almost completely different line-up in Winnipeg on Saturday than had played in Edmonton the night before, with just 3 players overlapping and nearly every healthy player in camp getting a game. Less predictably, the severely weakened line-up that made the half-day round trip found a way to beat the homestanding Jets, on Dale Hawerchuk Night no less. It’ll be a happy flight back to Edmonton, I reckon.
What the visitors lacked in skill they made up for with will, not that surprising given almost everybody in the lineup had serious motivation in what might have been a last chance for some of them. The main ingredient was the goaltending from Stuart Skinner who had a brilliant night, erasing a lot of defensive mistakes in the process, not to mention some fine play by impressive young Jets Cole Perfetti, Brad Lambert and Dominic Toninato among others.
It was a penalty-filled affair with each team scoring 5-on-3, the Jets also scoring 5-on-4 and just one 5v5 tally, by Tyler Benson who gave the Jets fits all night.
Strong game too from the coaching staff who rotated a group of six defencemen, none of whom is a lock for an NHL job come the 12th. All played from 24-28 shifts in the narrow range of 18 to 21 minutes; each of the six led the club in at least one statistical category on the event summary, not something that happens often. Then there was the time Jay Woodcroft went against the book and used 2 d-men on a 5-on-3 powerplay; within 20 seconds one of them had scored on an assist by the other (along with middleman Dylan Holloway who had an excellent game). The staff also made a successful video challenge, and some interesting in-game adjustments with forward combinations that paid off with a very strong third period.
No player grades for preseason, even as we will provide commentary for each of the 19 Oilers who saw action, sorted by (starting) lines and pairings. Lots of comments tonight as this was a high-event, highly-entertaining game with plenty at stake for many of the hopefuls.
Dylan Holloway had his skating legs going from the start, pouring in on the forecheck. Had a clearcut breakaway on the PK but rang his shot off the post. Slammed a one-timer on the first 5-on-3 that found Hellebuyck’s waiting breadbasket. Got a good bounce off the linesman, fought off a check and fired a great shot that Hellebuyck gloved, drawing the second 5-on-3 in the process. Made a great cross-seam pass to Demers for the 2-2. Rang iron a second time with a wicked wrister. Unable to execute a high-speed deke in a well-earned shootout opportunity. Led all Oilers with 21:40 ice time, playing close to 4 minutes on each special team, and got some time at pivot in the third.
Brad Malone took the game’s first penalty for slashing. Played 10:29 with a couple of hits, 2/8=25% on the dot.
Jesse Puljujarvi was in octopus mode in Jets territory, disrupting the breakout a couple of times in the early going. He also made a couple of strong stops inside his own line, making a good outlet pass after the first, then leading the rush and firing a slapshot and a close-in rebound on the second, Edmonton’s first 2 shots of the game after 11 minutes of play. Failed to cash a close-in rebound of Samorukov’s point shot. Nice rush through traffic led to a tricky screened shot. Provided a PP screen but got drilled on the knee by Broberg’s heavy shot and limped to the bench. Made a splendid play to maintain possession on the powerplay, then fed Ryan at the doorstep for the tip-in. Seconds later hammered a drive from the slot that Hellebuyck somehow got his blocker on. Made a splendid play in overtime when he rode Brad Lambert off the puck hard, crunching the young Jet into the boards before turning the puck north for a strong Edmonton possession. 5 shots on net to lead the Oilers.
Mattias Janmark did some strong work along the walls to win possession and advance the puck. Made a fine pass through a narrow lane to Ryan in tight to the net that very nearly clicked. Another good feed to Kesselring at the point with room to move into the slot for a good shot. Started a 3-way passing play with a good feed to Shore. Made a beautiful steal at the end of a Winnipeg powerplay, breaking away 2-on-1 with Demers emerging from the box.
Devin Shore was in solid position to intercept a centring pass, make a move and start the play the other way very late in the first, ultimately leading to an Oilers powerplay. Tried a rush through the neutral zone but lacked the speed to separate, skating into 2 traps and coughing up the puck on the second. Made 2 fine plays on the same PK shift, the first to tip Perfetti’s slot shot, the second to corral a loose puck in the corner and safely clear it down to enable a much-needed change. Made a lovely one-touch pass to McKegg for a dangerous slot shot. Switched off to wing in the third period and remained effective. Netted the only goal in the shootout with the ol’ Jussi Jokinen Special.
Derek Ryan drew a penalty in the last second of the first after some determined forechecking in the o-zone. Took one of his own in the middle frame. 2 shots, 9/12=75% on the dot.
Tyler Benson had a very strong game and was rewarded with 18:46 ice time, second among forwards. He opened the scoring late in the first when he jumped on a clearing pass just inside the Jets blueline, skated in and wired a shot past Connor Hellebuyck high glove: Edmonton’s first road goal of the preseason after a mere 135 minutes of play. Aggressive on the forecheck throughout, he landed a heavy hit that created a loose puck in Jets territory. Crunched Mason Appleton in the exact same spot minutes later, taking a boarding penalty but drawing one in return as big Adam Lowry came in to retaliate. Did a great job early in the third to win a race to the boards and establish position on the puck to clear the zone, paying a physical price in the process. That small play led to an Oilers powerplay on the counter attack. Made a great cross-ice feed that Bourgault nearly chipped home from the edge of the crease. Then came an even better aerial pass that sprang Bourgault in alone. To these eyes Benson was comfortably the best of the minimum-salary group of forwards (also Malone, McKegg, potentially Virtanen), of whom at least one will earn a spot on the eventual roster.
James Hamblin fired an excellent backhand shot from a low angle that barely missed the shortside top corner. Got more noticeable as the game went on. Had a great shift with Esposito and Shore in the final minute of regulation, penning the Jets deep in their own end.
Jake Virtanen turned the puck over in the neutral zone on his first touch. Had a much better moment later in the first with a strong forecheck on Ville Heinola that forced a weak clearing pass from the young Jet that Benson picked off, then scored. Officially unassisted, but there would have been no goal without that forecheck. But not much thereafter, just 1 weak shot from outside, and 0 hits for the third straight game.
Luke Esposito made a fine read, interception and clear on the penalty kill. Hammered Logan Stanley with a good hit. Kept his feet moving and drew a penalty because of it. Took a dubious minor for interference on a net drive, was challenged by big Blake Wheeler in an extended scrum, eventually taking a solid punch to the head because the one linesman who bothered to engage held back Esposito and allowed Wheeler a free shot. To make matters worse, the Jets scored the 2-1 on the subsequent powerplay — twice!
Greg McKegg fired a good-one timer from the slot but couldn’t beat Hellebuyck. Went 4/6=67% on the dot in the game’s first 15 minutes, then never took another draw all night as his ice time got faded.
Xavier Bourgault made some nice subtle plays in tight quarters along the walls. Made a patient set of moves through the high slot before firing a good low shot that tested Hellebuyck. Made a good setal on the forecheck, and instantly found Hamblin cruising in the slot with a quick pass. But twice wasted powerplay rushes with a poor handle at the blueline. Got on the end of Benson’s lob pass but couldn’t solve Hellebuyck.
Philip Broberg was beaten by speedy Jets rookie Brad Lambert early but got a tiny piece of the puck on the way through to slightly disrupt the rush. Did a better job containing the same player on a similar 1-on-1 shortly thereafter; the puck again slipped through, but the man was safely steered to the side. He was beaten on the 5-on-3, stepping up to the shooter in the high slot but not containing the shot, leaving two Jets free at the edge of the blue paint to eventually bang it home. Looked good on the powerplay point, and earned an assist on Demers’ goal with a perfectly-timed pass to Holloway. Made a sweet one-look stretch pass to Hamblin. After an iffy start he appeared more comfortable as the game went on.
Jason Demers made an excellent keep-in under pressure to keep the cycle alive. Decisively won a 1v1 battle with Perfetti, stripping the puck and making a good first pass off the backhand side to start the breakout. Beaten by Perfetti’s nifty outside-inside move, but Skinner had his back with a fine pad stop. Took a pair of penalties. Trying to help his teammates in the corner, he abandoned his post on the 2-1, leaving Perfetti alone in front for the deft finish. But got that one back soon thereafter, scoring the 2-2 on a fine 3-way passing play on the longer 5-on-3.
Markus Niemelainen made a big shot block of a PP one-timer with Skinner scrambling behind him. Took a high-sticking minor early in an Oilers penalty kill that left the Oilers two men short, leading to the 1-1 goal. Crushed Kevin Stenlund with a heavy hit, then easily shrugged off Jansen Harkins’ attempt at the return hit moments later. Twice blocked a shot and cleared the zone in a late second-period penalty kill, but coughed up the puck in between times. Beaten by Perfetti’s fine pass to Toninato, but Skinner had the answer. Made a nice pinch and keep-in leading to Shore’s screen shot, though he later betrayed a lack of offensive instincts when he dumped the puck in during 3-on-3 overtime. Had 15 different entries on the Event Summary, 11 of them without the puck (5 hits, 5 blocked shots, 1 penalty) along with 1 shot and 3 giveaways. But make it 4 straight games in just 7 days that he landed 5+ hits, a number attained only by 2 teammates so far, once each. Niemo is making his case the best way he knows how, and he’s in with a chance.
Michael Kesselring failed to clear the zone but made an excellent recovery to tip a shot attempt into the netting. His failed clearing pass led to some extended Jets pressure, but again it was Kesselring himself who ended the threat with a won battle in the corner. A couple of solid hits in the opening frame. Fired an excellent slot shot that Hellebuyck barely fought off with the cheater of his glove. Nice move at the point to create a seam to fire a wrister through heavy traffic that tested Hellebuyck, one of a handful of good moves he made along the offensive blueline.
Dmitri Samorukov fired a good outside shot through a screen that led to a dangerous rebound. Quiet but mostly solid, leading all Oilers with 4:20 on the penalty kill.
Philip Kemp twice failed to clear the puck under pressure on a third period Jets PP, then was beaten on a goal mouth pass on what appeared to be the 2-1, only to have the goal disallowed by offside challenge. Won his share of battles and had a team-high 2 takeaways as evidence.
Stuart Skinner became the first Oilers goalie to play a full game (and then some). He held his team in through a shaky opening 10 minutes that saw the Jets forge a 9-0 edge in shots. He stoned Blake Wheeler from the slot in the early going. Fought off Adam Lowry’s powerplay chance from the edge of the crease. Made a terrific stop off Heinola’s one-timer off a cross-ice feed on the 5-on-3, but was beaten on a 3-shot barrage seconds later. Some iffy puckhandling with 2 turnovers in the first. Fought off Harkins’ high drive through a screen with a good blocker stop. Robbed Perfetti’s one-timer early in the third. Came across quickly but couldn’t quite seal all the holes and Perfetti expertly found one from close range. But absolutely slammed the door thereafter with a series of stellar stops allowing his mates to claw back into the game. Robbed Toninato on a doorstep deflection. Made a superb stop off Stenlund on a well-executed 3-on-2 with 2 minutes left, and somehow held the rebound. Made 5 saves in overtime, most of them eyeball-to-eyeball as Winnipeg turned on the Jets and created several point-blank opporunities. The exclamation point was a shootout stuff of Perfetti at the nearside post with an outstretched pad after a nifty deke by the youngster. 35 shots, 33 saves, .943 save percentage, followed by perfection in the shootout.
Recently at the Cult of Hockey
Bedard, Fantilli headline Canada’s selection camp roster for 2023 World Juniors – Sportsnet.ca
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Recap: Brazil vs South Korea – World Cup 2022 – Al Jazeera English
Neymar has returned from injury to help Brazil thump South Korea 4-1, setting up a World Cup quarter-final clash against Croatia.
Four unanswered Brazilian goals in the first half at Stadium 974 on Monday set an imperious tone for a team with their sights firmly on a sixth World Cup title.
And while the game settled in the second period, it was never sluggish or scrappy, and a spirited South Korea fought hard to score a consolation goal in the 76th minute.
It took just seven minutes for Brazil to get off the mark, with Raphinha picking up the ball just outside the box and rushing in on the right side, sending in a pass to Neymar. The Paris Saint-Germain number 10 was brought down by his marker and the ball ended up at the feet of Vinicius Jr, in acres of space.
The Real Madrid star steadied himself before placing it to the right of Kim Seung-gyu in the South Korean goal.
Just three minutes later, Richarlison was brought down by Jung Woo-young inside the box, and the referee pointed to the spot. Neymar, who had reportedly flown his barber out to Qatar to dye his hair blonde following previous victories over South Korea with bleached hair, wasted no time in slotting it into the bottom-right of the net. Brazil was up two-nil with less than 15 minutes on the clock.
South Korea had their share of chances, with Hwang Hee-chan, fresh off scoring the winner against Portugal, having a go from a distance but sending the ball comfortably over the bar. Moments later, Allison was forced to make a diving save to his left, his first save of the tournament.
But Paolo Bento’s men were simply outclassed in every part of the pitch.
A remarkable piece of skill in the 26th minute saw Richarlison juggling the ball, heading it to himself three times while evading defenders on the edge of the South Korean box. He then passed the ball before running through on goal to receive the return, firing the ball in for Brazil’s third.
Just 10 minutes later, Vinicius Jr set up Lucas Paqueta with a cheeky chip, and the midfielder shot low and right. Kim Seung-gyu could do little but look at the ball nestling in the back of the net.
With four goals before half-time, Brazil was putting down a marker for any teams who think they might have a chance of lifting the trophy on December 18.
Son Heung-min nearly clawed one back for South Korea straight after the restart, but Alisson — who must, through this game alone, be in contention for the Golden Glove — got enough of his arm onto the shot to tip it wide.
Faced with the intensity of Brazil’s onslaught, South Korea tried to slow the game, but more chances for Raphinha and Vinicius Jr followed despite the best efforts of the men in red.
Then came the 77th minute, and out of nowhere, Paik Seung-ho scored from outside the box. A free kick for South Korea was bundled clear by the Brazilian defence, falling to Paik, who belted it past Alisson’s dive to find the top-right corner. Finally, the South Korean fans had something to cheer about.
South Korea continued to work hard in defence and create chances in attack, but that goal was to be their only score, and they head home having been soundly beaten by one of the best teams in the world.
Brazil will face Croatia in the quarter-finals at Education City on Friday.
Christine Sinclair, Diana Matheson reveal pro Canadian women's soccer league set for kickoff in 2025 – CBC Sports
Professional women’s soccer is coming to Canada.
Christine Sinclair and former national teammate Diana Matheson announced on Monday plans to kick off a domestic professional women’s league in 2025, featuring eight teams throughout Canada.
The two players sat down with The National‘s Adrienne Arsenault to reveal the news.
After the duo helped Canada capture bronze at the 2012 Olympics — Matheson scored the medal-clinching goal — Sinclair expected progress. After all, the team had just snapped Canada’s 108-year podium drought in the sport.
“I really thought that 2012 was going to be a turning point for this country in bringing professional soccer home,” Sinclair told Arsenault. “But it never happened. And there’s still no pathways within this country.”
And so, a decade later, Sinclair and Matheson took matters into their own hands.
The still unnamed league would begin in April 2025 with an inaugural champion crowned sometime in the fall. Each team will have at least one Canadian international, and the goal is to bring home about half of the over-100 Canadians currently playing abroad.
WATCH | CBC Sports’ Signa Butler examines absence of top domestic women’s league:
Vancouver Whitecaps FC and Calgary Foothills Soccer Club are confirmed as the first two teams to join the upstart league.
“Whitecaps FC are thrilled to be one of the first teams to sign on to a professional women’s soccer league in Canada,” said Stephanie Labbe, Whitecaps FC general manager of women’s soccer. “The creation of this league is something we have been advocating for over many years, and to be part of seeing it come to fruition is truly exciting.”
The league is being built by Matheson and her business partners at Project 8 Sports Inc. Sinclair, soccer’s all-time international scoring leader, is on board as an official advisor.
“The whole idea behind this is to aim high. And like, if you’re not, what’s the point?” Sinclair said.
“So let’s go out from the get-go and compete with the best leagues in the world and bring in the top talent. And yeah, have 10 year olds watching a game that 10 years later is on the Whitecaps, for instance. That would be my dream.”
Matheson, who retired from playing in July 2021, has visions of the league pushing the entire Canadian women’s sports infrastructure forward.
“It’s health and wellness. It’s confidence. It’s tied with better academics. There’s a huge tie between women in sport and women in business,” Matheson said. “And this is about soccer, but it’s about the coaches, it’s about the referees, it’s about women in executive roles in sport.”
Part of that women’s sports fabric comes down to marketing like jersey sales. Sinclair said she can’t even get her hands on her own jersey to gift to her niece.
“I don’t know if they exist,” Sinclair said.
Matheson, 38, said she’s been working on obtaining her Master of Business Administration, as well as partaking in UEFA programming. She’s hoping the league becomes a Canada Soccer member by 2023, with full sanctioning by 2024
She said Air Canada and CIBC are already on board as sponsors, and that it’s especially important to have the right team owners involved in the league.
“One of the things is having more diversity to begin with — more women, diverse voices to begin with, more players voices to begin with. And that’s top to bottom. I want women owners, women in the executive, women’s player voices as part of this,” Matheson said.
The Oakville, Ont., native made the case that the buy-in, which is expected to be between $8-10 million, is a worthwhile investment, noting that National Women’s Soccer League clubs, which were bought for $150,000 US 10 years ago, are now valued at a minimum of $35 million US. The Orlando NWSL franchise was purchased in 2021 for about $400 million US.
Matheson said her league can compete with average player salaries across the world right now.
“We just have way more opportunities to monetize our own brand. Players can do appearances, they can work with companies, they can run camps in a way that they just can’t when they’re playing in Italy and England,” she said.
Another point of importance for Matheson and Sinclair is ensuring players in their league are protected. Reports of abuse in the NWSL last season resulted in the resignation of half of the league’s coaches.
Sinclair is captain of the Portland Thorns, whose CEO Merrit Paulson stepped down in October following reports of systemic emotional and verbal abuse, as well as sexual misconduct.
“[It’s] unfortunate just how women are treated and taken advantage of. That’s why we need women owners. We need female executives,” Sinclair said.
Added Matheson: “It’s training, it’s vetting, it’s independent reporting systems. And for us, that’s going to mean working with those groups that are really good at doing those things.”
At its crux, though, the league intends to establish pathways for young Canadian women to stay in soccer and work their way onto the national team — to foster future generations so that one day they could get their golden moment like Sinclair had in 2021 in Tokyo.
“It’s time to change the narrative and inspire the next group,” Matheson said. “I believe kids need to see it to believe that it’s possible to happen. And with the launch of this league, kids will be able to go into their own backyard and watch their heroes play and dream of one day representing their hometown professional club and maybe representing Canada.”
Sinclair said she was once one of those kids, watching the 1999 World Cup with a dream to be on that pitch herself one day.
23 years later, the Burnaby, B.C., native has accomplished nearly everything she could in her sport.
“We’ve inspired Canadians on the podium,” Sinclair said. “Now it’s time to actually make an impactful difference here in Canada.”
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