The center, a sophomore at the University of Michigan, was named to the final 25-player roster at USA Hockey’s selection camp at USA Hockey Arena on Tuesday. The team consists of three goalies, eight defensemen and 14 forwards.
Beniers scored three points (one goal, two assists) in seven games to help the United States win the 2021 WJC with a 2-0 victory against Canada in the championship game. The United States will try to win back-to-back titles for the first time. Canada was the last team to do so, winning five straight from 2005-09.
“I think it’s a completely different team,” Beniers said. “We got a lot of familiar faces, which is really nice, and I think it helps that we have a lot of people who are comfortable with each other already.
“I think we did something very special last year and it was really awesome, but we have to turn the page. We have to remember what worked and what didn’t work and implement that into the team this year … try to do it even better.”
The 2022 WJC is scheduled for Dec. 26 to Jan. 5 in Edmonton and Red Deer, Alberta.
Forwards Brett Berard (New York Rangers) and Landon Slaggert (Chicago Blackhawks), and defensemen Brock Faber (Los Angeles Kings), Tyler Kleven (Ottawa Senators) and Jake Sanderson (Senators), are the other returning players from 2021.
“We have had a long process evaluating this team dating back to the summer showcase (in July) and scouting these players throughout their seasons,” U.S. National Junior Team general manager John Vanbiesbrouck said. “We had a great camp and our players and staff have done everything we’ve asked of them. We believe in these 25 players and we all have the same goal heading into Alberta.”
Beniers and Sanderson, the No. 5 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, are two of six first-round NHL draft picks on the team. The others are defenseman Luke Hughes (New Jersey Devils, No. 4, 2021), and forwards Matt Coronato (Calgary Flames, No. 13, 2021), Chaz Lucius (Winnipeg Jets, No. 18, 2021) and Mackie Samoskevich (Florida Panthers, No. 24, 2021).
“The confidence is definitely there; we got a really skilled group here,” Sanderson said.
Hughes is hoping to become the first of the Hughes brothers to help the United States win a World Junior Championship.
Quinn Hughes, a defenseman for the Vancouver Canucks, played for the team that finished third in 2018 and second in 2019. Jack Hughes, a center with the Devils, played with Quinn in 2019.
“I don’t know about any bragging rights (within the Hughes family),” Luke Hughes said. “You’re just trying to win a gold medal for your country and the guys on that team. At the end of the day you’re representing the United States of America and that’s the most important thing. I don’t think there’s any bragging rights.”
Forward Logan Cooley is one of four players to make the team who are eligible for the 2022 NHL Draft. Cooley is the only A rated player on NHL Central Scouting’s preliminary players to watch list for the 2022 draft. The projected first-round selection has scored 30 points (14 goals, 16 assists) in 20 games for the USA Hockey National Team Development Program Under-18 Team.
“I’ve been telling [Cooley] not to worry too much about the tournament, just play his game,” Beniers said. “I told him not to defer to any of the older players. I think that was something someone told me last year, and it was pretty important advice. Don’t give up the puck so fast. He knows how to play the game and he’s here for a reason.”
The team will travel to Edmonton on Wednesday, then quarantine for 48 hours before continuing training. It’s scheduled to play two exhibition games, against the Czech Republic at Gary W. Harris Canada Games Centre in Red Deer on Dec. 20 and Finland at Rogers Place in Edmonton on Dec. 22.
The United States is scheduled to play preliminary-round games at Peavey Mart Centrium in Red Deer in Group B with Russia, Sweden, Slovakia and Switzerland. Canada’s preliminary-round schedule in Group A at Rogers Place features Finland, Czech Republic, Germany and Austria.
The top four teams in each group will play in the quarterfinals Jan. 2. The semifinals are Jan. 4, and the championship and third-place games are Jan. 5.
UNITED STATES WJC ROSTER
GOALIES: Drew Commesso, Boston University, HE (Chicago Blackhawks); Kaidan Mbereko, Lincoln, USHL (2022 draft eligible); Dylan Silverstein, USA U-18, NTDP (2022 draft eligible)
DEFENSEMEN: *Brock Faber, Minnesota, BIG TEN (Los Angeles Kings); Luke Hughes, Michigan, BIG TEN (New Jersey Devils); Wyatt Kaiser, Minnesota Duluth, NCHC (Chicago Blackhawks); *Tyler Kleven, North Dakota, NCHC (Ottawa Senators); Ian Moore, Harvard, ECAC (Anaheim Ducks); Scott Morrow, Massachusetts, HE (Carolina Hurricanes); Jack Peart, St. Cloud State, NCHC (Minnesota Wild); *Jake Sanderson, North Dakota, NCHC (Ottawa Senators)
FORWARDS: *Matty Beniers, Michigan, BIG TEN (Seattle Kraken); *Brett Berard, Providence, HE (New York Rangers); Logan Cooley, USA U-18, NTDP (2022 draft eligible); Matt Coronato, Harvard, ECAC (Calgary Flames); Tanner Dickinson, Sault Ste. Marie, OHL (St. Louis Blues); Dominic James, Minnesota Duluth, NCHC (2022 draft eligible); Matthew Knies, Minnesota, BIG TEN (Toronto Maple Leafs); Chaz Lucius, Minnesota, BIG TEN (Winnipeg Jets); Carter Mazur, Denver, NCHC (Detroit Red Wings); Sasha Pastujov, Guelph, OHL (Anaheim Ducks); Mackie Samoskevich, Michigan, BIG TEN (Florida Panthers); Redmond Savage, Miami, NCHC (Detroit Red Wings); *Landon Slaggert, Notre Dame, BIG TEN (Chicago Blackhawks); Ty Smilanic, Quinnipiac, ECAC (Florida Panthers)
* — Denotes returning player
Listen: New episode of NHL Draft Class
Bombers extend Most Outstanding Defensive Player Bighill – TSN
Adam Bighill is staying in Winnipeg.
The Blue Bombers announced Thursday the reigning CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player has signed a one-year contract extension with the team.
Bighill has spent the past three seasons with the Blue Bombers, helping the team back-to-back Grey Cups.
A veteran of nine CFL seasons, Bighill has played in 146 games in his CFL career and ranks eighth in league history all-time in total tackles.
The three-time CFL Most Outstanding Defensive Player had 70 tackles and added two quarterback sacks, two interceptions and two fumble recoveries last season. He was named a CFL All-Star for the sixth time in his career.
Denis Shapovalov Australian Open third round Reilly Opelka – TSN
Denis Shapovalov needed three hours and 23 minutes to take down Serbia’s Laslo Djere in the first round of the Australian Open on Monday, working through a handful of unforced errors and a fourth-set tiebreak.
It was a cakewalk compared to his second-round matchup.
The Richmond Hill, Ont., native went the distance with Kwon Soon-woo, needing five sets and nearly four and a half hours to dispatch of the 54th-ranked South Korean. Shapovalov lost back-to-back tiebreaks in the second and third sets but battled back to take the final two and avoid an early exit.
Watch his third-round matchup LIVE on TSN4, TSN.ca, the TSN App and TSN Direct at approximately 10 p.m. ET/7 p.m. PT Thursday night.
“It was tough to bounce back every time. In the second set I had a set point on his serve and then the third set I had a couple of set points. I felt I was doing everything the right way, it just wasn’t going my way,” Shapovalov told TSN’s Mark Roe after the win.
“It’s definitely not easy but it’s the case sometimes. I’m just happy to be alive and have an opportunity to play in the third round. I’m pretty young so I’m sure I’ll be alright; I’ve had this before.”
Now it’s on to the third round for Shapovalov where he gets his toughest test of the tournament yet in No. 23 seed American Reilly Opelka.
Opelka has had a much easier road to Round 3, scoring straight-sets victories over Kevin Anderson in the first round and Dominik Koepfer in the second. Standing at 6-foot-11, the big-serving American isn’t much for rallies, combining for 41 aces in his first two matches in Melbourne.
“I think it’s more about recovery to be honest. I mean, Reilly’s game is pretty straightforward. He goes for his serves, he’s going for his ground strokes off the back as well so it’s going to be kind of like a guessing game a little bit on the returns and hopefully, I can take care of business on my serve and hopefully I’m getting good looks, but I’ve just got to stay patient against him,” Shapovalov said.
The 22-year-old comes into the year’s first Grand Slam with some momentum having won the men’s ATP Cup earlier this month in Sydney alongside Canadian teammates Felix Auger-Aliassime, Brayden Schnur and Steven Diez.
Fatigue from a recent bout of COVID-19 forced Shapovalov to sit out the start of the tournament but he said earlier this week he was back to feeling 100 per cent.
“Towards the end of the [ATP Cup] I got really comfortable, and the body felt good again, so that was a good sign. And, of course, leading up to this tournament I had little aches and pains, so I wasn’t practising too much but I’m really happy after the two matches that the body is feeling good and it’s definitely a good sign.”
Sheldon Keefe calls Leafs 'soft and purposeless' after Rangers collapse – Yahoo Canada Sports
Tell me if you’ve heard this before: The Toronto Maple Leafs have a multi-goal lead but their opponents come back to win the game.
Wednesday’s tilt against the New York Rangers played out exactly like that, with the Leafs having a 3-1 lead at the first intermission, and the hometown Rags storming back to earn a 6-3 victory with five consecutive goals.
Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe called out his team’s effort during his post-game availability, specifically citing the defensive side of their performance.
“Today, I just thought we played soft, and we made poor decisions defensively,” Keefe said.
“We couldn’t sort anything out. It was just far different. Each game has been different, so it’s hard to talk about patterns other than the obvious that we’ve been giving up leads. I just thought we got exposed today for being a team that was just soft, soft and purposeless, and just kind of playing the game and hoping it was going to work out.
“I didn’t think we had anybody that played well tonight. Coaches didn’t coach well tonight. So, today is a much different game than we’ve played in the others where we’ve given up leads and such. I just didn’t think we had nearly enough urgency or purpose.”
The Leafs were without two of their top four defenseman in Jake Muzzin (concussion) and Justin Holl (COVID protocol) in New York, but missing personnel is something that can be overcome. Keefe pondered if it was a larger-scale issue that keeps putting the Leafs in this position.
“We’ve had a lot of really good starts,” Keefe said. “Obviously it’s been the finish or the second half of games that haven’t gone well. …Maybe a fast start was working against us. We thought it would be easy the rest of the way. We paid for it.”
Toronto let three third-period leads get washed away by their opponents in the previous four games before Wednesday, making it more of a concerning trend than coincidental bad luck.
The Leafs will take another stab at trying to hold a multi-goal lead when they visit Islanders on Saturday.
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