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Undaunted by history, Flames and Oilers will craft their own Battle of Alberta legacy

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CALGARY — A throng of media-types three times the size as normal welcomed Matthew Tkachuk and the rest of the players to the podium yesterday with questions about a rivalry they know very little about.

What they do know is they’re in the middle of something special, which Tkachuk got a hint of his very first NHL game.

“My first memory was the first game in the new rink in Edmonton,” he said. “Everybody was in their seats for warmups. I thought that was pretty crazy. As I was skating out on the ice, I don’t remember perfectly, but Gretzky and Messier were out there doing a few laps or something. I’m 18 years old, thinking, ‘I don’t think I’m ready for this.’”

A large majority of the players in this series weren’t born when the last BOA series was 31 years ago, sparking shrugs from most of them when asked about what they knew of the hockey played back then.

“Not much,” said Elias Lindholm, 28.

“It wasn’t on in Sweden, so nothing,” added Jacob Markstrom with a grin, as he was a one-year-old then.

“Just big moments in NHL history,” said Tkachuk. “I’m serious when I say I didn’t know about it until I got drafted. It’s gotten bigger the last few years with both teams playing a lot better and maybe meeting each other in playoffs, and here we are.”

Tkachuk’s brother, Brady, has been busy riling up fans in the Dome and throwing out t-shirts in support of his brother’s club. The Senators captain was also seen hoisting a child on his shoulders as part of his celebrations.

“I’m surprised his parents let him go on Brady’s shoulders,” laughed Tkachuk. “I think that was kind of a spur of the moment thing.”

Call Your Shot? 

The beauty of The Battle has always been that just when you think they’re going to have a Pier 6 brawl all night long, the Flames and Oilers give us an incredible night of high-skill hockey. And just when you settle in for some buckled down, defensive hockey, you get a goalie fight or — like on a whacky Saturday night earlier this season — a 9-5 shootout.

This season, Edmonton beat Calgary 5-3 and 5-2, and the Flames won 3-1 and 9-5. Neither team won on the road.

“I think you’ve seen both sides when we played each other in the regular season,” said Connor McDavid. “You’ve seen low-scoring, tight-checking games. Obviously the last time we were in here it was a 9-5 gong show, pretty much. We want to be a checking team and that’s the brand that they want to play as well.

“I think you’ll see low-scoring nights and nights where there are a couple more goals, but I would expect it to be a pretty tight-checking series.”

Asked if he still had friends on the Oilers, Milan Lucic smiled.

“For the next however many days? No.”

Next question.

Asked how he thought Edmontonians feel about Wayne Gretzky’s prediction the Flames would win, Lucic chuckled.

“I’m sure they don’t like it, but he’s just giving his expert opinion,” he said, putting an emphasis on the word expert.

Battle Goes Net Front 

The Calgary Flames are the bigger team — there’s no dispute there. And if it comes down to fisticuffs, Calgary is in a better spot, with their toughness centred nearer the bottom of their lineup in Milan Lucic, Brett Ritchie, Erik Gudbranson and Nikita Zadorov, while two of Edmonton’s toughest guys are 25-miniute man Darnell Nurse and top six left winger Evander Kane.

As such, the Oilers want to make this series about speed.

“We want to be the first mover. We want to put an emphasis on speed,” said head coach Jay Woodcroft. “For us, speed trumps perfection.”

Calgary is not L.A., when it comes to size and the ability to control net fronts at either end of the ice. The Zadorov-Gudbranson pairing is vastly bigger and tougher than anything the Kings had, and up front the Flames have players like Lucic and Ritchie (if he dresses), tough players who go to the net hard.

How do the Oilers go about winning the net front battle at both ends of the ice?

“There are things that we can do defensively, and things that we can do offensively,” Woodcroft said. “Something that we talked about (Tuesday) was that the team that’s going to come out on top is the one that’s willing to pay the price. The one that’s willing to do it harder, and for longer.”

In the end, as one would expect, the challenge gets steeper as a team moves from Round 1 to 2. The Kings took Edmonton to seven games, but Calgary presents a must greater impediment.

“Yes, it’s a new challenge, a new task,” the coach said. “A complete different animal, a team that’s at the top of the Pacific Division for a reason. They do a lot of things really well. We’re gonna have our hands full.”

The phones of Flames alumni have been blowing up the last few days, sparking Joel Otto to say, “Us old guys are relevant again.”

“I think it’s important for the province. I’m a Calgarian now — lived here since the late 90’s — and understanding the passion between the two cities and how important it is to ‘one-up’ one another,” said Otto.

“They used the word hate but it’s a grudge match.”

Incidentally, the last Flames player to score an OT winner in Game 7 at home was Otto 33 years ago, which was a somewhat controversial deflection off his skate.

“I’ll tell all my grandchildren it was similar to what Johnny did,” he laughed.

“There aren’t a lot of comparisons other than it was Game 7.”

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All is set for the 2022 Women Africa Cup of Nations!

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Casablanca, Morocco– From tomorrow the 2nd to the 23rd of July, 2022, 12 African teams will be tussling for the ultimate title of the Women Africa Cup of Nations (WAFCON).

The 14th edition of this year’s WAFCON tourney will also serve as the African qualification for the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup with the top four teams qualifying for the global tournament which is set to take place in Australia and New Zealand, while two more teams will advance to the Inter-Confederation play-offs.

“The 2022 TotalEnergies African Women’s Cup of Nations will be held in two of the world’s most famous cities (Rabat and  Casablanca).

For three glorious weeks of football, these two fantastic cities will play host to the battle for the African women’s football crown.

Visitors to Morocco can be assured of a warm welcome, magnificent landscapes, a cosmopolitan culture proud of its rich history and all the ingredients to ensure an unforgettable stay.

While Rabat is Morocco’s administrative capital and city of cultural heritage, Casablanca is its vibrant economic hub and a bustling metropolis that is constantly on the move.

The world-class stadiums of Rabat’s Prince Moulay Abdellah and Prince Moulay Hassan Stadiums and Casablanca’s Mohamed V Complex will play host to the WAFCON’s 28 games.

Hosts Morocco will kick off the tournament in Rabat against Burkina Faso at the Prince Moulay Abdellah Complex at 21h30. The tournament’s finale takes place at the same venue at 21h00 on 23 July,” read a communique from the Confederation of African Football (CAF).

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak in 2019, the biannual tourney had to be suspended leaving Nigeria as the current defending champions after having won it in 2018.

Group A:  Morocco, Burkina Faso, Senegal, Uganda

Group B:  Cameroon, Zambia, Tunisia, Togo

Group C:  Nigeria, South Africa, Burundi, Botswana

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Serbia’s Nikola Jokic secures largest contract in NBA history at US$303 million

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Denver, United States of America (USA)- Serbian-born, Nikola Jokic, who plays for the Denver Nuggets has secured the largest contract in NBA history.

Jokic, the two-time reigning Most Valuable Player (MVP), is now secured to the Nuggets for a total of six seasons for US$303 million.

The deal includes a player option and a trade kicker. The contract will kick in during the 2023-24 season at US$46.6 million and climb every season until 2027-28 when Jokic is set to make US$61.5 million.

Jokic, 27, averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists in 74 games for the Nuggets last season, to win the league’s top individual honour for a second straight season, becoming the 15th player to win at least two MVP awards in his career and the 10th to win them in back-to-back seasons.

“I don’t know what else you can say about Nikola at this point. He has consistently improved his game, he has consistently proven people wrong when they doubt him and he is consistently the best player on the floor night in and night out. I have said it many times before, I am extremely grateful to coach Nikola Jokic and just as grateful for the bond that we have built off the court in our seven years together,” said Nuggets coach, Michael Malone.

Jokic, who was born in Sombor, Serbia, was the No. 41 overall pick in the 2014 NBA draft. He came to the league a year later and quickly made himself an essential part of Denver’s plans before blossoming into an All-Star for the first time in the 2018-19 season.

Now a four-time All-Star and three-time All-NBA selection, Jokic has become arguably the greatest passing big player in the history of the NBA.

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Sports in Canada – How to Get Your Sports Interest Awakened

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If most of your friends all love sports, but you feel more or less left out because the interest is just not there, it might just be that you haven’t found the right sport yet. There are so many different sports out there, that many people are simply surprised. If there’s one sport you don’t really like, there might just be another one more suitable for you.

 

Maybe you have checked out some NFL predictions and placed some bets but never tried the sport for yourself? Even if you’ve learned a lot from reading different sports news and checking NFL expert picks, it is never the same as trying out the sport yourself. Once you do, chances are you’ll instantly fall in love with it.

What are the most popular sports in Canada?

To find the right sport for you, you will have to do a bit of research. First of all, you have to figure out which sport may catch your interest. Next, you will have to figure out which sports options are available in your area. In Canada, the most popular sports include ice hockey, lacrosse, baseball, and cricket. There are, of course, many other types of sports to choose from in this beautiful country, but these are just the most popular ones. Outdoor sports are very popular in Canada, and you may be able to try out rock climbing, skiing, and snowboarding, depending on where you live.

Try it out for yourself

Reading about and watching different sports can be very informative, yet it’s not the same as trying them out yourself. What you might want to check is if there are some trial sessions you can do in your local area.

Take a mate with you

Sometimes, it’s much easier to try out new things if you’re not doing them alone, but with a friend instead. If you’re missing some motivation, it can be very helpful to bring a mate, as you will feel more obligated to go. Maybe the sport you decided to try out will bring you and your friend even closer together.

Team sports or individual sports

There are many benefits when doing team sports. Not only will you make new friends, but you will also learn a lot about working together with other people. But if you’re better at being on your own there are many individual sports to choose from.

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