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The Canadian women’s soccer team is back



The Canadian women’s soccer team is back

The back-to-back Olympic bronze medallists will play their first match in close to a year tonight at 7 p.m. ET when they face the United States at the SheBelieves Cup in Orlando. Here’s a catchup on the Canadian team as it begins to ramp up for the Tokyo Olympics in five months:

The SheBelieves Cup is a quick, four-team event. Canada, the U.S., Brazil and Argentina will play each other once, and whoever finishes with the best record wins the tournament. There’s no playoff round. Canada’s other matches are Sunday at 6 p.m. ET vs. Argentina and Wednesday at 4 p.m. ET vs. Brazil. The U.S., which has won the last two Women’s World Cups, is ranked No. 1 in the world. Canada and Brazil are tied for eighth and Argentina is 31st.

Don’t read too much into Canada’s results, though. Six key players are missing, either due to injury or because they’re playing for their clubs in Europe. Canada will be without captain Christine Sinclair, four-time UEFA Women’s Champions League title winner Kadeisha Buchanan, Diana Matheson, Erin McLeod, Ashley Lawrence and Jordyn Huitema.

On the bright side, this creates an opportunity for younger players. Janine Beckie and Jessie Fleming are among those who’ll have a chance to take on a bigger role and show they deserve to keep it once the roster returns to full strength. Another interesting player to watch, says CBC Sports’ Signa Butler, is 24-year-old forward Evelyne Viens. She’s never played at the international level, but Viens scored 73 goals in 77 matches for her U.S. college team and has eight goals in 12 matches this season for Paris FC, which loaned her from Sky Blue FC of the National Women’s Soccer League.

Tonight’s match could be tough. Canada is 3-50-7 all-time vs. the Americans and hasn’t beaten them since 2001. Their most recent meeting came last February, in the final of their regional Olympic qualifying tournament. The match didn’t mean much because both teams had clinched a spot in Tokyo by winning their semifinals, but the result was familiar: a 3-0 U.S. win. The Americans have since extended their unbeaten streak to 34 matches, including back-to-back routs of Colombia last month in their first action since March. The Canada-U.S. match is available live only on the streaming service OneSoccer, but you can watch a replay on the CBC TV network and on Saturday at 4 p.m. ET.

Canada has a new coach. Facing the best team in the world with a depleted roster isn’t the ideal setup for your first match as a senior national team head coach, but that’s the spot Bev Priestman is in tonight. Prior to replacing Kenneth Heiner-Moller in November, the 34-year-old spent two seasons as an assistant with the national team in her native England. Before that, she led Canada’s developmental program, was the head coach of the women’s under-17 and under-20 teams, and served as an assistant under former coach John Herdman at the 2015 Women’s World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, where Canada won its second consecutive bronze medal. Read about how Priestman is approaching her new job and watch Signa Butler’s interview with her here.


Signa Butler breaks down the basics of the SheBelieves Cup, and what participating in the tournament means for Team Canada 2:41


The Blue Jays will start the season in Florida. They confirmed today that their first two homestands, at least, will be played at their spring-training stadium in Dunedin. After that, team president Mark Shapiro said, the Jays could move their home games to Buffalo, where they played them last year. He added that the team would like to return to Toronto “as soon as it is safe to do so,” but there’s no timetable for that. The Jays open their 162-game regular season April 1 in New York against the Yankees, and their home opener is April 8. Read more about the Jays’ temporary move to Florida here.

Naomi Osaka is one win away from her fourth Grand Slam title. The Australian Open’s No. 3 seed easily beat Serena Williams in last night’s marquee semifinal and will face 22nd-seeded Jennifer Brady in the final on Saturday at 3:30 a.m. ET. If she defeats Brady, who’s never played in a Grand Slam final, Osaka will have won four of the last nine Slams. Since she won her first, at the 2018 U.S. Open, no other woman has won more than one. The men’s final matchup will be decided early Friday when No. 4 Daniil Medvedev plays No. 5 Stefanos Tsitsipas. The winner faces world No. 1 and defending champion Novak Djokovic in Sunday’s final.

Bianca Andreescu lost in the semifinals of her tournament. The Phillip Island Trophy event in Melbourne is for players who either didn’t qualify for the Australian Open or got knocked out early, so the competition isn’t the strongest. But, after losing in the second round of the Aussie, Andreescu got in four more valuable matches as she tries to shake off the rust from her 15-month layoff. And she can still squeeze in a few more in Australia despite today’s three-set defeat to 50th-ranked Marie Bouzkova. There’s a tournament in Adelaide starting Sunday, and Tennis Canada said Andreescu is “tentatively entered” in it.

The new president of the Tokyo Olympics organizing committee is a woman who competed in seven Olympic Games. Seiko Hashimoto is a fitting replacement for 83-year-old Yoshiro Mori, who was fired for making sexist remarks. Before taking the job, the 56-year-old Hashimoto was the country’s Olympic minister as well as the minister for women’s empowerment. She competed in three Summer Olympics as a cyclist and four Winter Olympics as a speed skater, winning bronze in the 1,500 metres at the 1992 Winter Games. Read more about Hashimoto here and about how a 22-year-old college student launched the campaign that helped bring down Mori here.

Another big-name quarterback is getting traded. A few weeks after the Lions swapped Matthew Stafford to the Rams for Jared Goff, the Eagles have reportedly agreed to send Carson Wentz to the Colts for a pair of draft picks. Wentz was an MVP contender in 2017 until he got hurt late in the season and watched backup Nick Foles lead Philly to a Super Bowl victory. He’s struggled since then and was downright awful in 2020, throwing 15 interceptions and only 16 TDs. Indy needed a QB after Philip Rivers retired, and head coach Frank Reich was Wentz’ offensive co-ordinator for that MVP-calibre season in Philly. Read more about the trade here.

The Canadian men’s water polo team faces a tough path to the Olympics. Today’s 19-6 drubbing by Greece dropped Canada’s record at the last-chance qualifying tournament in the Netherlands to 1-0-3. Canada finished fourth in its group, which is good enough to advance to the quarter-finals, but it will have to face the top team in the other group. That’s Russia, which went undefeated in its five round-robin games. A loss would end Canada’s hopes of landing one of the three remaining spots in the Olympic tournament. The game is Friday at 2 p.m. ET and you can watch it live here.

Also coming up on CBC Sports

Alpine skiing world championships: Watch the two runs of the men’s giant slalom live Friday at 4 a.m. ET and 7:30 a.m. ET here. Switzerland’s Lara Gut-Behrami won today’s women’s giant slalom for her second gold medal of these world championships. American star Mikaela Shiffrin finished second and now has a medal of each colour, with the slalom — her best event — still to come.

Ski cross: Canada’s Reece Howden has won three of the last four World Cup events to open up a big lead in the men’s season standings. Canada’s Marielle Thompson is second in the women’s chase after reaching five of the last six podiums. Watch them both race live Friday starting at 5:30 a.m. ET. here.

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Josh Lewenberg: Toronto Raptors improvise on bench with protocols keeping Nick Nurse and staff out – TSN



TORONTO – When Raptors general manager Bobby Webster learned that his team could be without more than half of its coaching staff for Friday’s game, including head coach Nick Nurse, one of the first calls he made was to the franchise’s longest-tenured player, Kyle Lowry.

In a different world, one in which the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement still permitted the use of player-coaches in the league, that may have been a very different conversation.

Despite his wealth of knowledge and experience, and despite the fact that he already does half of the job as a leader on the floor, anyway, the 34-year-old point guard has always insisted that he’s too impatient to ever be a coach. As fun as it would have been to see him try his hand at it – hitting threes and taking charges on the court, while drawing up plays and making substitutions off of it – unfortunately, it was not to be, at least not officially.

“I don’t know if we have the budget to add that to his resume,” Webster joked, before clarifying that, by rule, the league doesn’t allow teams to pay a player to do anything outside of their contract, including filling in as acting coach.

“I’d be a tough coach and I wouldn’t want to coach somebody like me,” Lowry said afterwards, admitting that he would’ve been somewhat intrigued if it were actually a possibility. “So, I’ll pass on that.”

Even still, with Nurse and five of his assistants unavailable due to the health and safety protocols, they knew they could lean on Lowry to bring some stability amidst a chaotic 24 hours for Toronto.

It was late afternoon on Thursday – a rare day off for the Raptors following back-to-back games – when, according to sources, one of the coaches tested positive for COVID-19. With the NBA overseeing the contact tracing process, all of the team’s front-of-the-bench coaches went into quarantine.

By Friday morning, the decision was made. Nurse and five members of his staff would have to miss that evening’s game against Houston, and while they’d be able to continue contributing remotely, the timeline for their return was uncertain. Pascal Siakam, who returned an inconclusive test on Friday, was also a late scratch.

For years, they’ve been a team that’s embodied a ‘next man up’ mentality, but it’s generally pertained to the roster – one player, or multiple players, stepping up when somebody else has left the organization or gotten hurt. Recently, though, it’s been more like ‘next coach up’.

When this unusual and unprecedented season began a couple months ago, Nurse had seven assistants and four player development coaches on staff. Earlier this week, he lost one of those assistants – and his long-time friend – Chris Finch, who took the head-coaching gig in Minnesota. They’ve also had to manage without Sergio Scariolo, who was away from the club coaching the Spanish National Team in the FIBA qualifiers. Fortunately, that meant Scariolo wasn’t subject to the Raptors’ recent contact tracing.

Last weekend, Scariolo was in Poland coaching Spain to a couple of wins. He returned to Tampa on Monday and spent most of the week in isolation. After returning negative tests throughout his quarantine, he was cleared on Friday morning – lucky timing, as it allowed him to step in and help the Raptors out of their bind.

“I think this is a subject for a book more than for an answer,” the 59-year-old Italian said of this past week, following a 122-111 win over the Rockets – his first as an NBA head coach.

“Of course it was different, especially because everything happened so fast today. So we had to readjust tasks, timing, schedule. We had to go a little bit on the fly.”

Scariolo was the natural choice – a veteran in coaching with more than three decades of experience leading teams overseas and internationally, winning Olympic medals and World Cup gold with Spain in 2019.

They also didn’t have many options. Scariolo only had three coaches next to him on Friday – assistants Jim Sann and Jamaal Magloire, who moved up a row from their usual seats behind the bench, and assistant video coordinator Mark Tyndale. Had Scariolo not cleared quarantine in time, Sann would have likely gotten the call, or perhaps they would’ve been more inclined to bring Raptors 905 head coach Patrick Mutombo up from the G League bubble in Orlando, even though his team also played on Friday.

For the Raptors, the bench didn’t feel as empty as it appeared, though.

Even from home, Nurse directed most of the game preparation – he, Scariolo and the rest of the staff had multiple Zoom meetings throughout the day. Adrian Griffin was in charge of scouting the Rockets – the assistants rotate these assignments throughout the season – and made sure Scariolo and company were all caught up. Jama Mahlalela and Jon Goodwillie, who both recently moved up to the front row after Finch left and with Scariolo away, each chipped in.

Then there were the two floor generals, Lowry and Fred VanVleet – a nice luxury for any staff to have in its corner, especially one that’s in flux. Even without the mantle of player-coach, the rest of the team looked to them on Friday, as they do on most days.

“We make jokes about it, but [Lowry] does so much out on the court and he takes on a little bit bigger role [with the bench thinned out],” Webster said. “I’ve spoken to him a number of times, spoke to him this morning, put it in his head, he knew this was a possibility. Obviously with Fred, as well. Those guys are in many ways the de facto coaches out there, so just trying to get it in their head as early as possibly so they could think about it.”

It’s hard to imagine Lowry doing more than he did to propel his team to Friday’s win, which evened its record at 17-17 on the season. With 20 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists, he recorded his 16th triple-double as a member of the Raptors and the 18th of his 15-year career. He needed just nine shots to do it, becoming the 11th player in NBA history to post a 20-plus point triple-double on fewer than 10 field goal attempts. Toronto outscored Houston by 22 points in his 33 minutes and was bested by 11 points when he was on the bench.

“I think that for me, and for Freddy and our organization and everybody, we kind of just we understood the situation,” Lowry said. “We didn’t want to make it over-complicated with everyone wanting to coach and everybody talking and this and that. They kept a semblance of what we usually do, and myself and Freddy you know we’re always coaching the floor anyway.”

“It was about being a professional. We understand what we have to do. We understand the game plan. It’s about doing it right. You learn in this league that you have to be a professional a lot more than anything else. You go in there and you got to prepare yourself. This is our job and this is our lifestyle. This is why we get paid and how we provide for our families, so you have to go out there and be a professional… Wall knew that we had to step up a little bit more and just make sure that we all stay composed and understand what the situation was going to be.”

The Raptors are one of only four teams that still haven’t had a game postponed, but that doesn’t mean their season hasn’t been impacted by the protocols. They’re playing their home games in a different country because of health and safety, after all. They had three members of the organization test positive for the virus in training camp, Norman Powell was questionable for the opener after somebody in his inner circle returned an inconclusive test, and there was that bizarre scene in Brooklyn, when Kevin Durant was out, then in, then ruled out again as a result of contact tracing.

But just when you think you’ve seen it all around the association – the league has already postponed 30 games this season – another curveball is thrown your way. The Raptors are the first team to have their coaching staff decimated by the protocols, and with three games left to play before next weekend’s all-star break, it’s unclear when they’ll get everybody back.

What is clear, though – in Lowry, they have somebody that can help steer them through it.

“This is the situation that we’re in,” said the veteran point guard. “I’m going to be honest with you, I have no stress at all. I don’t stress. There’s no stress. Why would I be stressed for? Things are going to happen, some things you can control, so you control what you can control.”​

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Quick Reaction: Rockets 111, Raptors 122 – Raptors Republic



HOU Rockets 111 Final
Box Score
122 TOR Raptors

C. Boucher27 MIN, 7 PTS, 8 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 2-8 FG, 0-4 3FG, 3-4 FT, 3 BLK, 0 TO, 3 +/-Monsieur Boucher was technically the largest gentleman on the court for the 27 minutes he played tonight, but you only felt that presence on one side of the floor. On D, he did his thang blocking shots, making the lives of Houston guards’ maneuvering in the paint miserable, and holding his own on switches. On O, he didn’t really seem to exist. It was only the fifth time this season that Boucher didn’t hit a three, which is fine, but it never felt like his height threatened Houston. Though, he did grab three offensive boards and wisely advised Coach Scariolo to review his foul on Oladipo.

K. Lowry33 MIN, 20 PTS, 11 REB, 10 AST, 1 STL, 6-9 FG, 4-5 3FG, 4-4 FT, 1 BLK, 2 TO, 22 +/-This box is truly not large enough for all of the great things I want, nay, NEED, to say about Lowry’s performance tonight. The Raps were really out of sorts in the first quarter shooting 9/26 with little flow. Then came Captain/Coach/Meta-Brain/Pest Kyle Lowry who took complete control of the second quarter. In the first six minutes, he scored or assisted on at least 18 of their 21 points. Even when alone with the bench, Kyle kept them rolling. He never relinquished control of the game after that. He did all the Kyle-stuff too. He had a charge, a couple of deflections, and took some time to battle WWE SuperStar, David Nwaba, in several micro-altercations. Come the fourth quarter, when Houston finally woke from their two-quarter nap, Kyle kept Toronto calm and collected orchestrating their D and getting the ball in the hands of the right people heaving outlets, zipping skip-passes, and making the extra pass. It was a C-L-A-S-S-I-C Lowry game.

N. Powell32 MIN, 30 PTS, 3 REB, 1 AST, 1 STL, 10-15 FG, 4-8 3FG, 6-6 FT, 1 BLK, 3 TO, 15 +/-Powell continues to score like a cool cat sauntering down the fence of an alleyway. His game has such a sweet cadence. Even his dunks can be jazzy smooth. He had an incredibly efficient night, getting to the rim in stride, making the right decisions instead of forcing things, and blazing from three. It was also another night where he avoided making any of those silly “What-was-that-Norm!?” plays. He was the scoring lift the Raptors needed with Pascal Siakam on the sidelines.

F. VanVleet38 MIN, 25 PTS, 4 REB, 4 AST, 3 STL, 6-23 FG, 5-11 3FG, 8-8 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, 4 +/-Freddy had a tough one. Yes, he was a major part of the Raptors’ victory. But for large stretches of the game he seemed frustrated and bothered by all those long Rockets’ arms. More than once he got to the paint and lost the ball or got stuffed or did something desperate. Desperate is so unattractive. If it weren’t for getting to the line 8 times, that would have been a very ugly one for FVV. That said, he brought it on the defensive end. And, for that, I love him forever and for always. Oladipo and Wall are tough tasks; they both ended with a meh 9/21.

OG. Anunoby27 MIN, 11 PTS, 3 REB, 5 AST, 0 STL, 5-8 FG, 1-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 3 TO, 12 +/-I was very disappointed with OG tonight. Not for how he played, because he played as OG always plays: strong, tempered, and selective. You can’t fault a guy for that. But this was a chance for him to really fill in for Pascal. FVV and Kyle were going to be busy with the Rockets guards; OG had free rein to go to work. He scored two buckets early and it looked like, “Okay, here we go. OG time.”, but then he picked up two personal fouls early and lost his mojo. But, again, I can’t be mad. He, like Freddy, is so vital to the Raptors defensive scheme that in any bad offensive night he makes it up in spades on defence.

D. Bembry23 MIN, 13 PTS, 4 REB, 2 AST, 1 STL, 4-6 FG, 0-1 3FG, 5-5 FT, 0 BLK, 2 TO, -3 +/-Bembry is like that plant you have out back and every time you go and check on it, you’re like “Woah! Did that grow.” His game is flourishing alongside the Raptor core. He moves so well off the ball and is a great complement to how Kyle and Fred like to play the game on both ends of the court.

Y. Watanabe17 MIN, 4 PTS, 4 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 2-6 FG, 0-3 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, -5 +/-I genuinely am shocked to see that Yuta was on the court for 17 minutes tonight. He had one wicked Euro step for a lay-up, but other than that, I am having trouble recalling Yuta minutes. Sorry, Yuta.

T. Davis16 MIN, 3 PTS, 3 REB, 2 AST, 0 STL, 1-5 FG, 1-4 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 2 +/-TD had an absolutely monstrous block! Nothing too distinguishable for Terrence otherwise. It was another night where I felt like he could have done so much more, but just didn’t.

A. Baynes15 MIN, 9 PTS, 6 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 4-8 FG, 1-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 1 BLK, 0 TO, 5 +/-Baynes always seems to get the award for ugliest looking play of the game. He blew a layup early, and then had this weird personal vendetta against PJ Tucker where he tried to take him one-on-one at the top of the key and then ballet-shot-putted the ball towards the hoop. Needless to say, it did not end well. Baynes played fine considering, but I was always left disappointed that he wasn’t smashing Rockets more down low.

P. McCaw4 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 2 +/-I do love Pat’s willingness to move the ball around. Perhaps, he does it a bit too much, but in one play he passed up a shot, drove, and kicked to a wide open OG who missed the three, Pat got the offensive rebound and immediately whipped it back cross court to Norm who drove in for the dunk. I want Pat to succeed and stay on the floor for longer because I think he has a really unique style of play.

S. Johnson2 MIN, 0 PTS, 1 REB, 1 AST, 0 STL, 0-1 FG, 0-1 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 1 +/-Can’t give too strong a letter grade on two minutes of play, but he did have two nice defensive stands at the top of the zone. I have admitted before that I have been on Stanley Johnson Island for a long time now. And there is where I will stay.

P. Siakam0 MIN, 0 PTS, 0 REB, 0 AST, 0 STL, 0-0 FG, 0-0 3FG, 0-0 FT, 0 BLK, 0 TO, 0 +/-Late scratch due to COVID health and safety protocols.

Nick Nurse No Nick tonight. He and five other coaching staff were held out of the game due to COVID health and safety protocols. I mean how can I criticize a guy who had, what, an hour to prepare for his first head coaching gig? Sergio Scariolo, fresh out of quarantine himself, stepped up in Nurse’s stead and, rightfully, earned his first win as an NBA head coach (even though, technically, I think it goes to Nick). The Raptors started off a little shaky, and that’s forgivable considering the circumstances, but by halftime, the game was well-in-hand. Sergio platooned FVV with the bench and did the same with Kyle. It had mixed results, but I always love when a coach puts his faith in his bench and sends them out there wholesale. Why not? Especially, in the middle of February facing a weaker team like Houston. The Raps bent a bit in the fourth, but they did not break, and that’s all that matters. Oh, and he nailed his first coach’s challenge ever! Yay, Sergio.


  1. That game just felt flat. Houston looked like a student in a microeconomics lecture who sleeps through the whole thing until they hear “this will be on the exam” and perks up for the next ten minutes. When Houston did perk up, Toronto had trouble keeping Wall and Oladipo out of the paint. They didn’t finish a lot of their takes, but it was concerning to see the ease in which they were getting to the hole.
  2. I am worried about the Raptors’ depth. DeAndre’ is winning me over, but that old adage of “who are your seven guys come playoff time” leaves me wondering if he makes the cut. TD certainly doesn’t. Nor Yuta. I don’t know what to think of Baynes these days. I am not saying find me the panic button or anything of that magnitude. All I am saying, is the Raptors lean a lot on FVV, Siakam, Lowry, and, so far, Normy. If one of those guys sputters – or is out like Siakam was tonight- there aren’t a lot of options left. Food for thought.

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Homan tops Carey to open Scotties championship round –



CALGARY — The favourites set the tone in championship pool play Friday at the Canadian women’s curling championship.

With a few surprise teams making the eight-team cut, perennial contenders Rachel Homan, Kerri Einarson and Jennifer Jones posted afternoon victories and showed why they’re good bets to reach the playoffs.

“With only three teams advancing, you can’t have very many losses to advance,” Jones said. “So we know that and we know we’re going to have to play every game as though we have to get that W and hopefully we perform well.”

Homan’s Ontario team stole a point in the 10th end for a 7-6 victory over Chelsea Carey’s Team Wild Card One and then came back for an 8-7 win over Quebec’s Laurie St-Georges in an extra end.

That left Homan in top spot at 9-1 with Einarson, the defending champion, who topped Saskatchewan’s Sherry Anderson 10-6 before eliminating Carey from playoff contention with a 9-3 rout.

Jones’s Manitoba team earned a split on the day to sit in a tie for third place at 7-3 with Alberta’s Laura Walker. Jones posted a 12-8 win over Beth Peterson of Team Wild Card Three before dropping a 7-5 decision to Walker.

“I guess mandatory is a good word for it,” Walker said of the win. “We needed it and I’m proud of the way we went out there and got it.”

With Anderson sitting out the nightcap with an injury, alternate Amber Holland threw fourth stones for Saskatchewan. She dropped a 10-9 decision to Peterson in an extra end that left both teams tied with Quebec at 6-4.

Earlier, Walker edged St-Georges 7-6 in an extra end. Saskatchewan and Quebec had an unexpected share of the Pool B lead after the preliminary round.

Carey (5-5), who’s filling in at skip for Tracy Fleury this week, barely missed a runback double-takeout attempt with her final shot against Homan, who put the pressure on with two protected stones near the button.

“They hung in there with me and we made some good ones in the end,” Homan said of teammates Emma Miskew, Sarah Wilkes and Joanne Courtney.

Jones, who’s aiming for a record seventh Scotties Tournament of Hearts title, stole five points in the 10th for her afternoon victory. Einarson was also tested early in that draw before a late deuce sealed the win.

Two more draws were set for Saturday at the Markin MacPhail Centre. The top three teams in the eight-team pool will reach the playoffs on Sunday.

The second- and third-place teams will meet in an afternoon semifinal for a berth in the evening final against the first-place team.

The Hearts winner will return as Team Canada at the 2022 national playdowns in Thunder Bay, Ont. The champion will also earn a berth in the Olympic Trials in November at Saskatoon.

The men’s national championship — the Tim Hortons Brier — starts March 5 at the same Canada Olympic Park venue. The Hearts is the first of six bonspiels to be held at the arena through late April.

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