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Resilient Stars rise to the occasion again in Game 5 to clinch shot at Cup

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EDMONTON — Who are these Dallas Stars, a team that doesn’t care who scores first, or who gets all the shots on net?

The Corsi, the Fenwick, the expected whatevers…

What does it say that you can chase the spread sheet the way the Stars do, and still become the Western Conference champions, in a tidy five-game series win over the Vegas Golden Knights?

“It says analytics are overrated,” said centre Tyler Seguin, a $9.85-million microcosm of what fuels the Stars, as the team’s highest paid player with just two playoff goals who has still managed to be a valuable contributor.

“It just says we find ways. We don’t care,” he continued. “Against Colorado it was kind of a goal-scoring match. This series was kind of more our style — 1-0, 2-1, 3-2, whatever it may be match. Whatever the game brings to us, it’s how we’re going to play. We just find ways to get the job done.”

The latest recipe was penned in a series-closing, 3-2 overtime victory in which the Stars trailed Vegas 2-0 after Reilly Smith blew a wrist shot past Anton Khudobin just 15 seconds into the third period. In a Game 5, with the favoured Golden Knights flexing their muscles, it seemed inevitable that Dallas would have to come back again for their shot at the Clarence S. Campbell Bowl.

There was just too much hockey team on that Vegas bench to cough up a 2-0 lead in the third period of an elimination game, wasn’t there?

Well, so we may have thought.

“Listen, you’re looking at shots against. We’re looking at chances against,” said Dallas head coach Rick Bowness. “Five-on-five, we were fine the whole series. They took a lot of outside shots? We’ll give them that.”

And as the third period continued, Dallas began to hold the play. Finally, Jamie Benn scored just before the halfway point. Then the upstart Joel Kiviranta roofed one from in tight, the first of two powerplay goals by Dallas’ second unit.

Somehow, the Stars dragged this one into overtime, where their relentless pressure caused Zach Whitecloud to chip a puck over the glass. And on the ensuing powerplay, with Vegas centre Paul Stastny having broken his stick, the young Russian stud Denis Gurianov one-timed a laser past Robin Lehner, winning the series and sending Dallas to its first Stanley Cup Final since the Year 2000.

“It’s a feeling you can’t describe,” Bowness said. “Words can’t describe the emotion that comes through. Any time you get here, people are paying an awful price. You need to be rewarded.

“You only get so many cracks at going to the Stanley Cup Final. You’ve got to take advantage of it. Kivi, is the future of the team. Denis, big overtime winner, future of the team. Roope [Hintz]… We’ve got a veteran group, but you also need your younger players to step up.”

During seven weeks in the bubble, the Brandon-born Whitecloud had emerged as an up-and-coming young player. But in the eighth week his Skate of Shame was epic, going from the penalty box to the handshake line in what must have felt like the worst moments of his hockey life.

“I feel terrible for the kid,” said his head coach, Peter DeBoer. “It’s such a [crappy] penalty to begin with. For that type of penalty to decide a game just doesn’t make sense to me. For me he has nothing to hang his head about. He played his ass off and played big and played heavy. He has a bright future ahead of him and has nothing to be ashamed of.”

That’s down the road. The immediate future for the Stars likely involves a meeting with the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You can be sure the Lightning — assuming they finish off the New York Islanders — will walk into that series a heavy favourites. And they’ll score some goals — though likely less than they expect — but by the third period they’ll look up at the score clock and see a game very much in the balance, with the Stars in their rearview mirror and gaining ground.

Because that’s the way the Stars play it. It’s the M.O.

“We always know it might take the whole game. There’s no panic,” said Seguin, whose Stars trailed Calgary by a 3-0 score early in what would end up being the Flames final game here in Edmonton, a 7-3 loss. “There’s composure, just knowing that we’re going to get the job done. We have key goals, big moments… Everything is falling in our favour right now.

“Belief. Our depth,” he said. “We always seem to rise to the occasion.”

Source:- Sportsnet.ca

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CFL to return in August

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The Canadian Football League (CFL), which saw its entire 2020 campaign wiped out by the COVID-19 outbreak, said on Monday its board of governors voted unanimously to kick off a shortened 14-game season in August.

The CFL, whose biggest source of revenue comes from ticket sales rather than TV deals like those enjoyed by larger U.S.-based leagues, also said fans will be able to return to the stands in line with provincial guidelines.

“This is an exciting day for Canadian football and for Canada itself,” CFL Commissioner Randy Ambrosie said in a news release.

“I want to thank our fans, players, coaches, and partners for their incredible support and patience as we’ve worked together towards this day.”

The season will begin Aug. 5 while the Grey Cup championship game will be played Dec. 12 in Hamilton, Ontario.

The full schedule will be released on Tuesday along with each of the league’s nine team’s plan for distributing tickets to season ticket holders and, where government restrictions on stadium capacity allow, ticket sales to the general public.

After first delaying its 2020 season, the CFL decided to scrap it entirely following a last-ditch effort to secure financing from the Canadian government to stage a shortened campaign that would have been held entirely in Manitoba was turned down.

The CFL had previously said it would only move forward with a 2021 season if it could secure the government approvals for its plans to keep players and coaches safe and the green light to allow a “significant” number of fans to attend games.

“We are on track to receive all of the necessary health and safety approvals, thanks to our tireless medical advisers and staff, and the dedicated government officials who have been working with them,” said Ambrosie.

“And while the outlook for fans in the stands varies from province to province, we are confident that process is also on the right track.”

 

(Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto; Editing by Steve Orlofsky)

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Mixed Martial Arts-Door is open for YouTube’s Paul brothers in MMA

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Logan and Jake Paul would make great Mixed Martial Arts (MMA) fighters, Bellator president Scott Coker has said as he targets exhibition matches featuring the YouTube personalities such as the former’s boxing bout against Floyd Mayweather.

Logan Paul went the distance, surviving eight rounds against unbeaten (50-0) five-division world boxing champion Mayweather in an exhibition on Sunday at Miami’s Hard Rock stadium.

USA Today reported the fight brought in one million pay per view buys with $50 million generated from sales in the United States.

It was only the second fight of Paul’s career, while his brother Jake has fought in three professional boxing matches, beating former MMA fighter Ben Askren in April.

Critics have labelled the bouts a sideshow due to the lack of sporting credibility of the duo, who made their names as social media personalities and have millions of subscribers on YouTube.

However, Coker told Reuters the brothers have impressive physiques and the door is open for them to move into MMA.

“I met with Logan Paul about two years ago and I’ve spoken to Jake Paul’s manager and Jake on a zoom call recently… The one thing I said was hey, if you want to do MMA we would love to promote you guys,” the 58-year-old said in a Zoom interview.

“These guys are young, athletic, strong and you saw the fight on Sunday night these guys they came and did their work.

“Mayweather couldn’t finish him and I know he tried, I heard he wanted to knock this kid out so bad,” he added.

“When I heard both had high school wrestling backgrounds in Ohio, which is a prominent wrestling state in the U.S., it really made me interested in pursuing them in some super fights in Mixed Martial Arts – and that door is continually open.”

HEADLINE FIGHT

Bellator, owned by Viacom, is gearing up for a busy month of events, starting with Bellator 260 on Friday with the headline fight between reigning welterweight world champion Douglas Lima and the undefeated Yaroslav Amosov.

However, super fights and exhibitions are where Coker is targeting a younger audience.

“My 14-year-old niece, I told her I was going to the Logan Paul fight and she thought that was the greatest thing,” he said.

“She asked me who he was fighting and I said Floyd Mayweather and she said ‘who’s that?’ – I thought wow, she doesn’t know boxing, she doesn’t know MMA, she’s just a 14-year-old girl on the internet doing what they do.”

As the sporting world gears up for the delayed Tokyo Olympics starting in July, Coker believes MMA will feature in future Games.

“When you think about mixed martial arts, what you’re talking about is boxing, wrestling, judo, taekwondo, karate – those are all Olympic sports,” he said.

“Why wouldn’t mixed martial arts eventually get into the Olympics because six out of the seven disciplines MMA is known to use really is already there.

“There’d be a lot of details to work out but to me I think it will happen, it’s just a matter of time.”

 

(Reporting by Christian Radnedge,; Editing by Ed Osmond)

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships

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Montreal will host the 2024 world figure skating championships, the International Skating Union (ISU) said on Wednesday, after the 2020 event Canada was to host was cancelled due to COVID-19.

The championships will return to Montreal from March 18-24, marking the 11th time Canada has staged the event.

“Skate Canada has a proven track record of holding successful ISU events and we are looking forward to bringing the world’s best skaters to the fantastic Canadian city of Montreal,” said Debra Armstrong, CEO of Skate Canada, in a statement.

 

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto; Editing by Andrew Cawthorne)

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