No shortage of prospect players put in solid games for the Edmonton Oilers rookies in their 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets rookies on Friday in Penticton (game highlights).
No shortage of prospect players put in solid games for the Edmonton Oilers rookies in their 3-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets rookies on Friday in Penticton (game highlights).
But two of them stood out by my eye, forward Xavier Bourgault and defenceman Michael Kesselring.
The Oilers roster was full of players with promise, high ranking members of The Cult of Hockey’s recent prospect rankings, including #1 ranked Philip Broberg, #2 Dylan Holloway, #4 Bourgault, #5 Reid Schaefer, #8 Carter Savoie and #9 Matvei Petrov.
I’ll give brief comments on a few of them, before diving into more detail on Bourgault and Kesselring.
Dylan Holloway: He got an assist on the winning goal, jumping on a puck in the crease and putting it cross-crease, where linemate James Hamblin eventually slammed it home. Holloway had the puck on a string a few times, cruising fast and dangerous around the offensive zone. If the Oilers were still stuck in the Decade of Darkness, it would be easy to imagine Holloway and Bourgault not only making the Oilers right out of camp, but earning roles in the Top 6. He also got an assist on Kesselring’s goal.
Carter Savoie: Flashed his impressive skill numerous times, including on an early power play, taking the puck on his off-wing down the wing, moving in and sending a horizontal dart through the kill floor, right on the stick of Darien Kielb, who slammed it home. Between Savoie and Bourgault, the Bake is well stocked in sniping wingers.
Maxiumus Wanner: I’d never seen the kid play, but the 19-year-old made a helluva good first impression. He’s big, 6-foot, 3-inches, 185-pounds, but he also skates well. He was smooth and confident skating with and protecting the puck, and made several sure plays to evade Winnipeg forecheckers.
Ryan Fanti: The rookie goalie looked fast and smooth in net and also handled the puck exceedingly well.
Philip Broberg: A fairly quiet game but still a strong one, with Broberg skating miles with and without the puck and getting involved in several dangerous attacking plays.
Noah Philp. The big centre is 24-years-old, one-to-six years older than most of his teammates and opponents this game, and it showed. He was strong on the boards and led his line of Matvei Petrov and Tyler Tullio on a number of successful forechecking stints.
Michael Kesselring, 22. This was a huge game for Kesselring, a much needed show of his maturity and ability. Kesselring had an OK rookie season in. the AHL, but he’s 22 now, time to show his stuff, time to grab a Top 4 job in the Bake. He got off to a good start this game, outshining Broberg in this one. Kesselring was forever winning pucks in the d-zone and rushing them up ice, often with positive results, including one thrust down the wing where he fought off a defender and put the puck into the slot, only to see it deflect it in off a Jets defender for a Winnipeg own goal. Kesselring’s skating looked better than ever, both in terms of agility and speed, and this improvement is critical for the player. He’s got excellent size, and good head with the puck. If he can also mix in strong skating, he’s got a shot at an NHL job down the road.
Xavier Bourgault. Wow! What a show from the Oil’s first round pick in 2021, the young forward the Oilers passed over hot shot goalie Jesper Wallstedt to grab 22nd overall. Again, if the Oil’s top lines weren’t already packed with talent, we fans would now be talking up Bourgault to the moon. He made good-to-great plays almost every time he touched the puck and showed a welcome amount of hustle as well, including on the winning goal, where he first raced down the ice and won body position to avoid an icing, then went to the net, with his forecheck resulting in a deflected puck to Holloway. In another rush he turnstiled a Winnipeg d-man only to be poke checked at the last moment by the Jets goalie. He also got in for a dangerous backhand breakaway shot. He set up Holloway with a horizontal dart through the kill floor for a wicked harpoon of a shot. Bourgault oozes hockey smarts and skill, which heralds a fast start for him in the American Hockey League.
TORONTO – Hey, Toronto Blue Jays, please complete the following sentence – clinching a post-season berth on an off-day is …
“… weird, but awesome,” said George Springer. “I mean, it just allows you to breathe a little bit, you know, allows you to say, well, we accomplished our goal. Yeah, obviously you might want to do it in a little bit of a different way, but at the end of the day, who cares? It’s awesome to say we’re going to the playoffs no matter what.”
“… well, clinching is great, but I would say not ideal,” said Bo Bichette. “It definitely felt weird not being with the team and not celebrating after the game. I mean, that’s part of it. When you’re young and you’re watching the people we watched, you’ve got the champagne showers and everything. We’ll get that opportunity (Friday). So, blessed either way.”
“… it didn’t happen because technically, we didn’t celebrate,” said Matt Chapman. “We’re celebrating (Friday). So clinching on an off day is not ideal, but manageable because we’re going to clinch (Friday).”
“… weird,” said Kevin Gausman. “In the moment, I really wished that we all would have been here and been able to watch it together. But either scenario would have been weird. If we would have came in, what if (the Baltimore Orioles) come back and win and then we all came in for no reason? So we just decided to wait until Friday.”
“… strange,” said Danny Jansen. “Kind of unfortunate, too. But we’re here now. It was a weird thing, for sure. It’s the first time in Blue Jays history. Probably doesn’t happen very often. It was a weird feeling for sure on the off-day.”
“… cool but a little weird, you know?” said Jordan Romano. “It’s definitely still special but I think it would’ve been a little better if all the boys were around and we were kind of in the moment. Still really cool. We’re all grateful for it. But yeah, a little different.”
“… odd,” said Tim Mayza. “Not your typical (way to) a post-season berth. It’s different, but so were the last two, three years of Blue Jays baseball. You go back to the ’20 clinching and the guys who were there said it was weird. You had an empty stadium in Buffalo. And even last year, we didn’t get back here until August. Then you make a run at the end and you fall just one game short. So I would say for the past few years of Blue Jays baseball, maybe this is typical, that it would happen on and off-day. But it’s fun. It’s exciting.”
“… still clinching,” said David Phelps. “The most important thing isn’t the champagne celebration, the most important thing is that we’re headed to the playoffs. Yeah, obviously we would have loved it after a win and been together for it. But our goal is to get to the post-season and win the World Series and that’s stop one.”
“… easy – we didn’t play,” said interim manager John Schneider. “It was a little weird. You become a Boston Red Sox fan for about three hours and then you turn it off. But we knew that was a possibility and covered all of our bases, but definitely different. But no matter how you do it, doing it is the most important part.”
There was no debating that on one of the more unique Friday’s in franchise history, as the Blue Jays returned to Rogers Centre with an ‘X’ by their name in the wild-card standings courtesy of an Orioles loss at Boston the previous afternoon, planned a post-game party, pounded the Red Sox 9-0 behind six shutout innings from Alek Manoah and then let it rip.
“I woke up and I was ready to go,” said Gausman. “My mind was on my bullpen, but my bullpen’s over so now all I’m focused on is watching Manoah shove and then go pop some bottles. That’s all I’m thinking about.”
In the aftermath, asked about his first champagne shake-and-spray, Manoah grinned.
“That was sick.”
Manoah allowed only two hits and was in total control, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. rocked his team-leading 31st homer of the season and Springer added a three-run shot to ensure the Blue Jays jumped into the party in style.
Raimel Tapia also went deep and Bichette added two singles, giving him a club record for hits in a month at 48, before a Rogers Centre crowd of 37,283 that enjoyed stress-free festivities. Yusei Kikuchi picked up from Manoah and closed things out for a three-inning save, his first in the majors and second of his career after collecting with the Seibu Lions in 2012.
“This party was scheduled and whether we won or lost. For me, it was let’s have a good time, but with a win, you know?” said Manoah. “I feel like it would have been really terrible to get our butt kicked out there and then have to come and party. The biggest thing was being able to just lock it in and make sure that the win comes first and then the party comes after.”
Work still remains for the Blue Jays (88-69) over the final week, starting with locking down the top wild-card spot, which they lead by 1.5 games over the Seattle Mariners (86-70), who beat Oakland 2-1 to clinch their first post-season berth since 2001, and two games over the Tampa Bay Rays (86-71), who also clinched with a 7-3 win at Houston.
In case it matters, Manoah is lined up to pitch Wednesday’s season finale at Baltimore, but the Blue Jays want to have the top spot secured by then and not have to contemplate whether to start their ace in order to host the wild-card round.
Hard to imagine them making that choice and while Schneider didn’t quite commit to saving Manoah for the wild-card round, saying “a lot can happen between now and then,” he later added, “if he’s on the mound in Game 1, that would be a really good thing for us.”
Manoah has now logged 196.2 innings over 31 starts with a 2.24 ERA, becoming one of the club’s most reliable arms. His 0.88 ERA in September is a franchise record. The Blue Jays are 18-13 when he starts.
Similarly important is figuring out if Lourdes Gurriel Jr., who did some running Friday as he works his way back from a left hamstring strain, and Santiago Espinal, who ramped up his baseball activities as he recovers from a left oblique strain, will be ready for the wild-card opener Oct. 7.
Their status will significantly impact how the post-season roster is constructed, while decisions on how to line up the rotation and how many relievers to carry also must be settled.
Five games remain to sort out those matters, which they can do knowing the heavy lifting is done and the achievement has been properly feted, the way it was in a pretty wild clubhouse.
The first bottles of champagne were uncorked as Endor’s Pump It Up blared on speakers and then, when Hot by Daddy Yankee and Pitbull followed, Teoscar Hernandez climbed atop a clubhouse table and began waving a pirate flag as his teammates skipped around.
“That was something Chappie brought up for every win we get,” Hernandez explained of their post-victory routine. “He said we were pirates and we’re going to take everything from everybody. So we started doing that every time we win. I’m always with the flag on the top of the table trying to pump everyone up.”
No challenge there and next the room went silent for Schneider.
“This is something you should never not celebrate,” he told the group. “Congratulations to you all. Unbelievable effort all season long. You guys are fucking incredible. Enjoy the shit out of this tonight.”
With that, more corks went flying.
Wave after wave of players ganged up on Guerrero, dousing him as payback, Manoah said, “for all the water he throws on everyone.”
“I tried to hide and avoid everything,” Guerrero said through interpreter Hector Lebron, “but everybody was dumping everything on me. That felt good. It was very emotional and let’s keep going.”
Amid the chaos, Chapman swung by his stall to make sure his glove was safely tucked behind the plastic sheets draped over the lockers and protected from the streams of bubbly flying in all directions. It was.
The pitchers circled pitching coach Pete Walker and emptied out dozens of beer cans on him.
Schneider, asked whether more champagne was on him than in him, said on him but that the ratio was about to change.
Guerrero, Bichette and Cavan Biggio, who rose through the farm system together as the sons of elite major-leaguers, winning championships and single-A Dunedin and double-A New Hampshire along the way, traded dousing and kind words.
“It’s something that we’ve all been through together and enjoyed together,” said Biggio.
The difference between the parties then and now?
“This is way better,” said Guerrero. “In the minor leagues, they give you just one bottle of champagne and that’s it. You’re out. Here there are a lot of bottles.”
Indeed, and even after the party took a brief pause for a team photo on the mound, it quickly moved back into the clubhouse and resumed.
“I feel like we handled it the right way,” said Ross Stripling, whose emergence after Hyun Jin Ryu’s season-ending elbow surgery was pivotal for the club. “We played the game. We took care of the business at hand and then came in here to have a good time.”
Added Schneider: “This is why you play. This is a lot of fun.”
Clinched on an off-day or not.
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa sustained neck and head injuries after being slammed to the ground Thursday night against the Cincinnati Bengals and was taken off the field on a stretcher.
The Dolphins said Tagovailoa was conscious, had movement in all his extremities and was taken to University of Cincinnati Medical Center for further evaluation.
The Dolphins said after their 27-15 loss to the Bengals that Tagovailoa was expected to be released from the hospital and fly home with the team, but there was no further update.
Tagovailoa was chased down and sacked by six-foot-three, 340-pound Josh Tupou with about six minutes left in the first half. He was spun around and thrown to the turf. While on the ground, his hands froze in front of his face. He remained down for more than seven minutes before being loaded on a backboard, stabilized and strapped to a stretcher after his facemask was removed.
Dolphins players gathered around as Tagovailoa was rolled off the field and the crowd chanted “Tua! Tua!”
Miami coach Mike McDaniel said Tagovailoa called for him when he went down.
“I could tell it wasn’t the same guy that I was used to seeing,” McDaniel said. “It was a scary moment. He was evaluated for a concussion. He’s in the concussion protocol, but he’s being discharged.
“It’s an emotional moment. It’s not a part of the deal you sign up for. His teammates and myself were very concerned, but he got checked out and it’s nothing more serious than a concussion.”
Player health and safety is at the core of the union’s mission. Our concern tonight is for Tua and we hope for a full and speedy recovery. Our investigation into the potential protocol violation is ongoing.
Teddy Bridgewater, who replaced the injured Tagovailoa, said the Miami sideline went quiet when the starting QB was on the turf.
“Complete silence,” Bridgewater said. “He’s one of us. At the end of the day, it’s only a football game. In that moment, you saw how we feel about Tua. He’s our captain. He’s our leader. It was great to see the doctors handling the situation.”
Reaction came swiftly from around the NFL. Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes and Broncos QB Russell Wilson promptly tweeted with concern for Tagovailoa’s well-being.
“Praying for you Tua,” Wilson wrote.
The 24-year-old Tagovailoa was suffering from a sore back and was listed as questionable for most of the week ahead of the game.
Tagovailoa briefly left Sunday’s 21-19 victory over the Buffalo Bills after appearing to be disoriented by what the team originally said was a head injury after taking a hard hit from Bills linebacker Matt Milano late in the first half. He missed just three snaps and returned after halftime, a decision that prompted a joint review by the NFL and National Football League Players Association of what went into the decision to allow him to return to the game.
He said he “hyper-extended” his back after getting his legs caught under someone on a quarterback sneak.
McDaniel said Thursday that he didn’t think an injury from last week made him fall the same way this week.
After Tagovailoa’s injury Thursday, the NFLPA tweeted: “Player health and safety is at the core of the union’s mission. Our concern tonight is for Tua and we hope for a full and speedy recovery. Our investigation into the potential protocol violation is ongoing.”
NFL executive vice-president Jeff Miller said the review usually takes a week or two.
“Every indication from our perspective is that it was,” Miller said about the team and its doctors following concussion protocol on Sunday. “I know the player, the coach and others have spoken to this. And we are engaged in that review now. So we’ll come back with a formal answer to that question, something that we want to engage in.”
Some criticized the decision to play Tagovailoa so soon after his injuries in Sunday’s game.
Hall of Famer Shannon Sharpe tweeted: “That’s a serious injury. Tua shouldn’t have been out there with Sunday Thursday turn around. Sometimes players need protecting from themselves. Dolphins failed Tua.”
The bottom line regarding Tua is LIFE is bigger than football. Teams should always put the person before the player. Health before competitive advantage.<br>Putting Tua out there isn’t just a player safety issue. It’s a quality of life issue.
Before leaving Thursday’s game, Tagovailoa was eight for 14 for 100 yards and an interception. Bridgewater threw a touchdown pass to Chase Edmonds with 15 seconds left in the half.
Vonn Bell’s interception of Bridgewater — the safety’s second pick of the night — with three minutes left in the game set up the Bengals’ final drive.
Joe Burrow tossed a late two-yard touchdown pass to Hayden Hurst to seal the win for Cincinnati.
Evan McPherson kicked two fourth-quarter field goals — including a 57-yarder.
Burrow was 20 for 31 for 287 yards and two touchdowns as the Bengals won their second game in five days after dropping the first of the season. Tee Higgins caught seven passes for 124 yards and a TD.
Tyreek Hill paced the Dolphins with 10 catches for 160 yards.
The play of Tagovailoa, who won a national championship at Alabama, has been key for the 3-1 Dolphins. He came into the game second in the NFL with 925 passing yards.
Team Canada will play for bronze at the 2022 FIBA Women’s Basketball World Cup after suffering an 83-43 loss to the top-ranked United States in semifinal action on Friday in Australia.
Following the preliminary round of the tournament, the U.S. sat at the top of Group A, going 5-0 for 10 points. In Group B, Canada finished tied in the first-place spot with Australia — as both teams went 4-1 for a total of nine points.
Canada defeated Puerto Rico 79-60 while the U.S. took down Serbia 88-55 in the quarterfinals to advance.
The semifinal meeting however, saw Canada go up against their toughest competition to date — a United States squad that seemed to know exactly how to shut them down.
The Canadians’ typically strong defence looked sloppier than usual, along with just about everything else they had done so well leading up to Friday. It became quite clear, quite early how much harder Canada would have to work for any offensive opportunities compared to their opponents.
Struggling to score until the five-minute mark of the first quarter, Canada allowed the U.S. to get 15 unanswered points over them before finally responding with their first two-pointer of the game. After ten minutes of play, the U.S. led 27-7.
Canada appeared to enter the second quarter with much more confidence, finally putting up a bit of a challenge for the other team. With that being said, the United States continued their domination, extending their lead and going into the halftime break with a score of 45-21.
The third and fourth quarters played out similarly, with Canada bringing the necessary energy but still failing to gain any kind of significant ground on the U.S. The Americans made it 67-29 to finish the third and ultimately secured their 40-point win over Canada after 40 minutes.
Brenna Stewart was the U.S. team’s leading scorer with 17 points — 12 of which came from her four three-pointers on the night. A’Ja Wilson earned her first double-double of the tournament, recording 15 points and a team-leading 12 rebounds.
On the other side, Laeticia Amihere led offensively for Canada with eight points.
The United States are the three-time defending champions, winning gold in five of the last six World Cups. Canada’s best results in the tournament’s history are two bronze medals, with the most recent won in 1986. The team hadn’t played for a medal since — until now.
Canada’s chance to add a third bronze to their collection will also take place on Friday, at 11 p.m. ET / 8 p.m. PT on Sportsnet and SN Now. The Canadians will take on host Australia.
The U.S. will attempt to extend their championship streak to four consecutive World Cups, facing China on Saturday at 2 a.m. ET / 11 p.m. PT in the gold-medal game.
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