By Gregory Strong in Toronto
Blue Jays fan Frankie Lasagna grabbed a baseball glove from his garage before heading down to Rogers Centre for Wednesday’s game against the New York Yankees.
With Aaron Judge on the verge of baseball history, Lasagna wanted to be prepared just in case the Yankees slugger hit his 61st homer of the season.
“I would never ever bring a glove other than this situation,” Lasagna said. “I needed a bigger one.”
The 37-year-old Toronto restaurant owner came agonizingly close to catching the historic ball when Judge went deep in the seventh inning.
Lasagna stretched over the railing but the ball hit the wall just a few feet below and bounced into the Toronto bullpen. A Yankees security official later came by to collect it.
The blast tied Judge with Roger Maris, who set the American League’s single-season home run record in 1961.
Lasagna bought his ticket in the front row of the 100 level thinking it would improve his odds of catching the ball if Judge went deep.
“In the front row I felt like you’ve got the best chance,” he said. “Lo and behold, I was just a few feet away.”
Lasagna said the anticipation built during every Judge at-bat.
“It’s like you’re in the game, you’re fielding and getting ready for the pitch,” he said. “When he hit the ball, it was like ‘Oh my God! Oh my God!’ I think I hit my buddy in his neck (as I stretched out). I almost got it.”
Lasagna could only look down into the bullpen as the ball — which could have been worth big bucks to a collector — bounced a couple times before it was picked up.
“The disbelief comes over you and just the shock and the amazement,” he said. “I was like, ‘Oh my God, I almost had it.'”
One fan seated near Lasagna, still clearly frustrated at just missing the ball, declined to be interviewed.
Lasagna, sporting a baby blue Vladimir Guerrero Jr., jersey, said he would have kept the ball if he had caught it.
“I would have held on to it for as long as I could (to) negotiate,” he said. “Maybe get Judge to try to come to the restaurant.”
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2022.
Follow @GregoryStrongCP on Twitter.
Connor McDavid’s four-point effort leads Oilers to 8-2 rout of Coyotes
EDMONTON — Connor McDavid had two goals and two assists and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored twice and had an assist as the Edmonton Oilers defeated the Arizona Coyotes 8-2 on Wednesday.
Derek Ryan, Leon Draisaitl, Bret Kulak and Klim Kostin also scored for the Oilers (15-12-0) who have won five of their last seven games.
Jack McBain and Shayne Gostisbehere responded for the Coyotes (7-13-4) who finished off an epic 14-game road trip with their sixth consecutive loss.
The Oilers got off to a good start with a power-play goal just 4:37 into the opening period as Nugent-Hopkins sent a wrist shot through a screen in front that beat Coyotes netminder Connor Ingram.
Edmonton added to its lead with 3:19 minutes remaining in the first frame as Ryan shrugged off a defender and scored on a backhand shot.
The power play clicked again for the Oilers 8:14 into the second period as McDavid sent it through to Draisaitl and he scored from a tight angle for his 18th goal of the season. McDavid recorded his 50th point in just the 27th game of the season, the fastest Oiler to hit that mark since Wayne Gretzky in 1987-’88.
Arizona got on the board with 6:17 to play in the second period. McBain made a nice move in tight to deposit it past an outstretched Stuart Skinner in the Oilers net.
Edmonton got that goal back just 23 seconds later, however, as Kailer Yamamoto stole a puck at the Arizona blue line and sent Nugent-Hopkins in alone for his second of the night and 13th of the season.
The Oilers went up 5-1 with 1:21 to play in the second as Kulak blistered a shot high to the glove side that went off the bar and in.
Edmonton had a 30-10 edge in shots after 40 minutes.
The Oilers kept the pressure on in the third period as Ryan stripped a puck that went to Kostin in front and he deposited his second goal of the season past Ingram at 3:19.
McDavid extended his goal streak to six games a couple minutes later, taking a pretty pass from Draisaitl behind the net before scoring on the wraparound.
The Oilers captain made it a four-point game with seven minutes left in the third, as McDavid took a feed from Hyman and scored on a one-timer for his 24th goal of the season.
Arizona scored with just over five minutes to play as Gostisbehere tipped in a Christian Fischer shot.
Kostin fought Zack Kassian in the final minute, giving him the “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” on the night with a fight, goal and an assist.
The Coyotes’ 14-game road trip started on Nov. 5, lasted 33 days, and tied an NHL record for the longest in history with the Vancouver Canucks. Arizona started the trip with three wins before going 1-7-3 after that.
Scoring first has been a challenge for both teams this season, as they came into the game having each allowed the first goal 15 times. Edmonton had managed to overcome the deficit more successfully with a record of 6-9-0, while Arizona was 2-11-2 in those situations.
Zach Hyman returned to the Edmonton lineup, but the Oilers remained without forwards Evander Kane (wrist), Warren Foegele (undisclosed) and Ryan McLeod (undisclosed).
Both teams play next on Friday night. The Coyotes finally return to Arizona to host the Boston Bruins. The Oilers close out a four-game homestand against the Minnesota Wild.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.
Shane Jones, The Canadian Press
Andersson’s three-point night helps Calgary Flames to 5-3 win over Minnesota Wild
CALGARY — Rasmus Andersson notched the game-winner at 15:57 of the third period and added two assists as the Calgary Flames overcame a disastrous start in a 5-3 comeback victory over the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday.
Tyler Toffoli with a pair, including an empty netter, Nazem Kadri and Blake Coleman also scored for Calgary (13-10-3). Elias Lindholm had three assists.
The Flames have won three games in a row and earned eight points on their five-game homestand.
Kirill Kaprizov extended his goal streak to seven games for the Wild – tops in the league this season. Mason Shaw and Jon Merrill also scored for Minnesota (13-10-2), which had its four-game winning streak come to an end.
Making his sixth start in the last eight games, Dan Vladar gave up two goals on his first three shots. He settled in and finished with 25 saves for his fourth straight victory, improving to 5-4-1 on the season.
Marc-Andre Fleury had 22 saves at the other end. His record fell to 9-6-1.
Minnesota was trailing 3-2 when they tied it at 15:45 when Merrill’s point shot deflected in off the stick of Flames defenceman Chris Tanev.
But just 12 seconds later, a Wild turnover behind their net ended up on the stick of Andersson, who cut across the crease and used his backhand to put the puck just inside the goalpost.
Kaprizov entered the game on an offensive tear with 19 points in his last dozen games. He extended his point streak to 13 games when he tipped in a Matt Dumba point shot just 1:27 into the game.
Both of Kaprizov’s streaks are franchise records.
Less than a minute later, the Wild broke out on a 3-on-1 with Shaw one-timing Connor Dewar’s cross-ice pass past Vladar.
But the Flames overcame the Wild’s fast start to the first period with an even better start to the second.
On a power play that carried over from the first period, Kadri got Calgary on the scoreboard just 16 seconds into the second period when he redirected Lindholm’s hard pass past Fleury.
Coleman tied it after a goalmouth scramble at 1:37.
The Flames moved in front at 3:11 with another power-play goal and another deflection. Toffoli got a piece of Andersson’s heavy slapshot from the blue line.
The Wild had three power-play opportunities later in the period but were thwarted by the Flames’ penalty kill. Entering play, Minnesota was 8-for-19 with the man advantage over the last six games.
BLOWN LEADS AND COMEBACKS
To lose a game in which they scored the first goal and led after the first period is a rarity for the Wild.
Minnesota entered the game with an 8-1-2 mark when scoring first and an 8-0-1 record when leading after 20 minutes.
Calgary improved to 4-6-1 when surrendering the first goal and 3-6-2 when trailing after the first period.
After a seven-game stretch where the Flames’ power play was just 2-for-21, they’ve scored two goals in each of the past two games, going a combined 4-for-9 over that span.
Wild: Head to Edmonton to take on the Oilers on Friday.
Flames: Open a three-game road trip on Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 7, 2022.
Darren Haynes, The Canadian Press
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