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‘The biggest rivalry’: Bedard, Canada set for world junior semifinal against U.S.

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Brandt Clarke was a month short of his sixth birthday.

The moment, however, remains etched in his memory.

John Tavares scored a dramatic hat trick for Canada against the United States in a wild 7-4 victory on New Year’s Eve at the 2009 world junior hockey championship in Ottawa.

Clarke and his family were in the building — hanging off every shot, save and hit from the stands.

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“The electricity in the building,” he said of what still resonates some 14 years later. “The red jerseys all the way to the top … 20,000 people, winning the game against the Americans.

“It’s unmatchable.”

With another mouth-watering instalment of the bitter rivalry set for Wednesday thanks to Connor Bedard’s overtime heroics for Canada in the quarterfinals, Clarke is confident his teammate and the country’s best player — just like Tavares that frigid night in the nation’s capital — will rise to the occasion.

“I don’t expect him to take any steps back,” the Los Angeles Kings defenceman said following Tuesday’s brief practice. “All I’ve seen so far is him take steps forward. Even when it’s hard to imagine him still being able to take steps forward, he’s done it.

“I don’t think that’ll change.”

Bedard making history

Bedard has not only changed a couple lines in record books at the men’s under-20 tournament.

He’s torn it to shreds.

The presumptive first pick at the 2023 NHL draft set five national or tournament marks early in Monday’s triumph against Slovakia before a breathtaking solo effort in OT nearly blew the roof off a frothing Scotiabank Centre.

Bedard has registered the most goals (16) and points (34) all-time by a Canadian at the tournament. He’s also set the national record for points (21) and assists (13) at a single event, and has the most points ever by a player under age 18 from any country.

 

Connor Bedard smashes Canadian World Juniors record

17-year-old Connor Bedard has made history as one of the best Canadian World Juniors players ever, breaking multiple records in Monday’s game against Slovakia. The budding superstar is projected to be the first pick in next year’s NHL draft.

But for all the accolades, the 17-year-old North Vancouver, B.C., native has made a habit of quickly turning the page.

His headline-grabbing performance in the quarterfinals was no different.

“That’s really incredible for him to be able shut out or ignore all the media and how much attention he’s getting,” Canadian goaltender Thomas Milic said. “He’s a team-first guy. A quote I like is, ‘A rising tide lifts all boats.’ Us having team success is contributing to him and everyone else.”

“He doesn’t sit there and dwell on the biggest goal of the tournament,” Canadian head coach Dennis Williams added of Bedard, who didn’t speak to reporters Tuesday. “You wouldn’t have known that after the game — his focus was already on to the next challenge.”

That comes Wednesday in the latest clash of the sport’s North American powers.

“Every kid’s dream,” said U.S. forward and Winnipeg Jets prospect Rutger McGroarty. “Playing in a barn like this against your rival, it’ll be a fun one.

“It just gets us juiced up to see that atmosphere, see how crazy it’s going to be.”

Whether it’s the Olympics, world juniors, world championships or any other level, extra motivation isn’t necessary when the countries hit the ice.

“Don’t think we need to go in as coaches and get the room going,” Williams said. “If anything, we’ve got to calm them down.”

The clutch gene

Tavares, Sidney Crosby, Joe Sakic, Haley Wickenheiser, Marie-Philip Poulin and many others have risen to the occasion in similar moments.

This Canadian iteration is hoping for the same.

“All of us dreamed of this as kids,” said winger Brennan Othmann. “This is the game, this is the moment.”

“The biggest rivalry,” added forward and Ottawa Senators prospect Zach Ostapchuk. “And for us, personally, it’s big. It’ll be really exciting.”

For all the points Bedard has put up, the Americans are also dangerous, especially the top line of Logan Cooley, Jimmy Snuggerud and Cutter Gauthier, who sit second, third and fifth in tournament scoring.

“Skilled guys,” said Canadian centre Logan Stankoven, who plays alongside Bedard and is No. 4 in the points race. “They strike fast and quick.”

A hockey player wearing dark blue U.S. gear controls the puck in front of a German player, who trails the American and appears in the left side of the picture.
Logan Cooley scored a hat trick and added an assist to lead the U.S. past Germany 11-1 on Monday in world juniors quarterfinal play in Moncton, N.B. (Dale Preston/Getty Images)

Taking the body will be a big part of Canada’s mindset against the Americans, including trying to make life difficult for their undersized defence corps.

“They don’t like the physical play,” Clarke said.

For all the drama Monday, one area where the Canadians will look to improve is faceoffs after a success rate of just 45 per cent.

“We’re chasing the game too much there,” Williams said. “We were going to position before possession.”

Canada lost to the U.S. in the final of the 2021 tournament in the COVID-19 bubble in Edmonton in the countries’ last meeting at the world juniors.

‘These are games I loved watching growing up’

“Super special,” Milic said. “These are games I loved watching growing up. We’re pretty fortunate to be able to be in this position to play in one and really have a big battle for our country.”

Canada got to this point thanks to another spectacular performance from Bedard, who dropped to one knee for his own version of the “heartbreaker” celebration made famous by U.S. great Patrick Kane after scoring the winner against the Slovaks.

“That was pretty cool,” Clarke said. “Especially in a big setting like that. The whole building’s going crazy, the whole building’s chanting ‘M-V-P’ for him.

“That’s what he’s been doing all tournament — just breaking hearts.”

Bedard and Canada will look to do the same against the Americans.

 

Connor Bedard punches Canada’s ticket to world junior semifinals with dazzling winner against Slovakia

 

On a historic night for the youngster, Connor Bedard scored in overtime to propel Canada to a 4-3 victory. Canada will play the United States in the semifinals.

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Maple Leafs’ Morgan Rielly calls his shot on John Tavares’ big night – Sportsnet.ca

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Bengals vs Chiefs Touchdown Props for the AFC Championship – Best Touchdown Scorer Bets – Covers

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The AFC Championship on Sunday features a rematch of last year’s conference title game as Cincinnati travels to Arrowhead to take on Kansas City. Read more to find out our favorite anytime touchdown props for Bengals vs. Chiefs.

Last Updated:
Jan 29, 2023 2:43 PM ET

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Read Time: 4 min

The second of Sunday’s two Conference Championship games could be an absolute classic, with the Cincinnati Bengals facing the Kansas Chiefs for a trip to the Super Bowl

There’s plenty of scoring opportunity in this game for bettors, so why don’t we get right into the action? Don’t miss our NFL anytime touchdown prop picks for the Bengals vs. Chiefs on January 29.

For more, be sure to check out Jason Logan’s full AFC Championship betting preview, as well as our Bengals vs. Chiefs prop picks

Bengals vs Chiefs touchdown props

Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.

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Bengals vs Chiefs TD props

Mr. Dependable

At +100, you won’t find a better prop bet for the AFC Championship game. While the injury to Patrick Mahomes will probably limit Kansas City‘s volume of passing, Travis Kelce is the heartbeat of this team and will always be involved — especially in the red zone.

He’s had 14 touchdowns this season, with two of those coming last week against the Jaguars. With the season on the line and Mahomes banged up for most of it, Kelce was still targeted an incredible 17 times and recorded 14 receptions. 

The Mahomes-Kelce connection is one of the strongest in the NFL. With the chance to reach the Super Bowl in play, you can guarantee they’ll be looking for their All-Pro tight end to play an important role. 

Prop: Travis Kelce anytime touchdown (-105)

Chase can’t be caught

If Kelce is the man to trust for the Chiefs, then the same can be said of Ja’Marr Chase for the Bengals. His chemistry with Joe Burrow is arguably in the same bracket as that of Mahomes and Kelce, dating back to their time playing together at LSU.

Chase finished the regular season sixth in touchdowns scored (9), which is not bad for a player who missed all of November with a hip injury.

The star wideout has scored in each of the Bengals’ two playoff games and has been targeted at least eight times in all but one game this season. At odds of +100, it makes too much sense to bet on Chase’s anytime market.

Prop: Ja’Marr Chase anytime touchdown (-105)

Covers NFL betting tools

1B to Chase’s 1A

You could make a serious argument that Tee Higgins is the best second option in any team’s receiving corps. Although he isn’t always Burrow’s first read, he’s still a hugely important part of this team and can often thrive with the opposition’s best corner shadowing Chase.

Higgins surpassed 1,000 yards on the season, scored seven touchdowns, and could very well add to that tally against a Chiefs secondary that is far from the best in the NFL. 

Although he’s gone scoreless in his past three outings for the Bengals, Higgins successfully reached paydirt in all of the four games prior. When these two teams met in early December, Higgin hauled in three of his five targets and scored a touchdown.

It wouldn’t be a shock to see him do it again on Sunday.

Prop: Tee Higgins anytime touchdown (+195)

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Eagles ride ground game to Super Bowl LVII with win over 49ers – TSN

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PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Jalen Hurts can conduct a singalong about as well as he can orchestrate the kind of punishing scoring drives that sent the Eagles into the Super Bowl.

At the end of one more triumph, Hurts stood on the stage on the field — as his Eagles teammates passed around the NFC championship trophy — and clutched a microphone in front of what was suddenly Philadelphia’s largest karaoke joint. His rendition of the team fight song was a tad off-key.

Hurts may not sing as well as he can score, but it was another memorable moment in a season full of them. And the Eagles don’t believe they’re done yet.

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“We’ve got new moments,” Hurts said. “New moments and new times.”

Hurts had one of Philadelphia’s four rushing touchdowns and the Eagles soared into the Super Bowl, forcing both of San Francisco’s quarterbacks out of the game with injuries and beating the wounded 49ers 31-7 in the NFC championship game on Sunday.

The Eagles, who won the Super Bowl five years ago with a different coach and quarterback, will try to do it again behind the formidable duo of Hurts and coach Nick Sirianni. Philadelphia will play either the Cincinnati Bengals or former Eagles coach Andy Reid’s Kansas City Chiefs.

“We get to do it because we did it better than anyone in the NFC this year,” Sirianni said.

Hurts had a modest game by his standards after a season in which he was a finalist for MVP. He was 15-of-25 passing for 121 yards and ran for 39, improving to 16-1 as a starter this season. The Eagles (16-3) lost two games that he missed with a sprained right shoulder.

Hurts sat alone at his locker dressed all in purple and he took a few puffs of a cigar as the Eagles celebrated around him. He understood there was one more game to win.

“I never knew how far we’d go,” Hurts said, “but I never said it couldn’t be done.”

Miles Sanders ran for two touchdowns and linebacker Haason Reddick made the hit that forced 49ers rookie quarterback Brock Purdy out of the game with an elbow injury. Reddick also recovered a fumble by Purdy’s replacement, Josh Johnson, who later suffered a concussion.

That forced Purdy back into the game, but his injury was clearly a factor as the 49ers all but gave up on the passing game, even while trailing by multiple scores. Purdy said he was unable to throw the ball more than 10 yards after his elbow got hurt.

San Francisco’s bad luck at quarterback was finally too much to overcome as its 12-game win streak ended. The Niners (15-5) lost both Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo to season-ending injuries, and Purdy — the final pick in April’s draft — lost as a starter for the first time.

Philadelphia police greased traffic and light poles in what proved again to be a futile attempt to slow the postgame revelry. The city now has its beloved Birds in the Super Bowl just three months after the Philadelphia Phillies reached the World Series.

“When you guys go into our indoor (practice facility), there’s always that picture in the back part of it of the 2017 NFC championship game, and it’s just the electricity of the stadium,” said Sirianni, who was hired two years ago to replace the Eagles’ Super Bowl-winning coach, Doug Pederson. “We’re looking forward to getting another picture up there of this special moment that we had.”

The game disintegrated in the waning minutes and Philadelphia’s K’Von Wallace and San Francisco’s Trent Williams were ejected for their roles in a brawl. Williams yanked Wallace from behind and slammed him to the ground.

The moment only seemed to rile up Eagles fans even more as they soon waved their green towels and went wild as confetti fluttered around them.

“We’ve got one more game for the rest of our lives,” Sanders said.

TAKING CONTROL

The Eagles broke the game open in the final two minutes of the first half, getting a rise out of a crowd that had been quiet with nervous energy since a touchdown on the opening drive.

Sanders broke free for a 13-yard run for a 14-7 lead, concluding a 14-play, 75-yard drive extended by three 49ers penalties.

Johnson bobbled a shotgun snap and fumbled on the next drive, and Reddick — the free-agent pickup from Carolina having one of the great defensive seasons in franchise history — recovered at the San Francisco 30. Boston Scott scooted 10 yards for a touchdown and 21-7 lead.

Even with Hurts almost a non-factor — he had 97 yards passing in the first half — the Eagles were firmly in control. His 1-yard rushing touchdown on Philadelphia’s signature rugby-style QB sneak made it 28-7 late in the third quarter.

“We’ve got a chance to go out there and win it all,” Hurts said. “So we want to go prepare to go do that.”

The Eagles used quick thinking as they scored on their opening drive for the second straight playoff game. DeVonta Smith made a sensational one-handed grab for 29 yards, but replays showed he appeared to lose control of the ball as he hit the ground. Smith popped up and frantically waved the Eagles to the line. Niners coach Kyle Shanahan did not challenge the call and the Eagles got off the next play. Sanders scored on a 6-yard run.

“Smart players do smart things,” Sirianni said. “He did a smart thing right there. I’m going to say he caught it, though.”

NINERS’ NADIR

Purdy left the game with an elbow injury after he was drilled in the arm by Reddick on San Francisco’s first drive. The play was initially ruled an incomplete pass, but replays confirmed it was a fumble.

“I knew that was a sack-fumble because I got my hand on the ball,” Reddick said.

He also got his hand on Purdy’s arm, changing the course of the game. The 23-year-old Purdy’s improbable rise from “Mr. Irrelevant” to playoff starter ended with a whimper as he failed to become the first rookie QB to lead a team to the Super Bowl.

He was improbably needed again in the third quarter after Johnson, a journeyman backup signed in December, was also injured.

“I hurt for these guys,” Shanahan said. “We felt really good about this game. It was tough circumstances.”

With little hope they could get anything going behind Johnson, the 49ers turned to Christian McCaffrey, a midseason acquisition who led the team with 13 TDs in the regular season and playoffs, to get on the board. He broke three tackles on a 23-yard touchdown run that made it 7-7 in the second quarter.

That turned out to be the only moment of hope for Shanahan’s Niners, who managed 164 yards of offense and 11 first downs.

“You’re never out of the fight,” McCaffrey said. “We believed it and it just didn’t turn out our way. We got beat and wish we had another shot at it with everybody.”

IN THE HOUSE

First lady Jill Biden, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, actor Bradley Cooper, comedian Kevin Hart, Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout and several 76ers, including Joel Embiid, attended the game.

UP NEXT

The Eagles will play in the fourth Super Bowl in franchise history on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona.

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AP NFL: https://apnews.com/hub/nfl and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

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