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Edmonton Oilers ride power play to 2-1 road win over Vancouver Canucks


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VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Canucks held Connor McDavid to a single assist for the first time this season. But they couldn’t skate away with a win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night.

Mikko Koskinen made 29 saves and was seven seconds away from his first shutout of the year as the Oilers beat the Canucks 2-1 at Rogers Arena.

“It starts with Mikko,” said forward Zach Hyman. “He made some huge saves, so you can’t have a game like that without him. I thought it was a good game. We bounce back after a loss, on the road, playing a good Vancouver team. Get the win and not give up an even-strength (goal).”

Koskinen made his fourth-straight start, with Mike Smith sidelined with an upper-body injury. The Oilers improved to 6-1-0 this season while the Canucks fell to 3-5-1. Thatcher Demko made 32 saves in the losing effort.

Vancouver is winless this season at Rogers Arena and has scored just four goals in total during three losses in their season-opening seven-game homestand.

“There was times where we created a lot, but we’ve got to do that kind of stuff for a full 60 minutes,” said Canucks captain Bo Horvat, who went 16 for 23 in the face-off circle and finished the night with three shots on goal. “Sporadically is not going to win you hockey games. We’ve got to figure out ways to get it done.”

At even strength, both teams were sound defensively. The Oilers went 2 for 2 on the power play, with goals from Warren Foegele and Leon Draisaitl. Vancouver’s only goal came from Brock Boeser in the dying seconds, with Demko pulled for the extra attacker.

The Canucks’ only power play of the game came with 3:01 left in the third period, as the team pressed to score with Demko already on the bench.

“It is a good job at 5-on-5, but we’ve got to find a way to win those hockey games,” Horvat said. “When you do hold a team like Edmonton to two goals, you’ve got to figure out a way to score three.”

The Oilers opened the scoring at 11:39 of the first, after Tyler Myers was whistled for hooking Edmonton’s Jesse Puljujarvi. With one second left in the man advantage, Foegele deposited a rebound off a shot by Darnell Nurse past an outstretched Demko for his second goal of the year.

It was a rare tally from Edmonton’s second power-play unit, which sees limited ice time playing behind superstars like McDavid and Draisaitl.

“It came up with a big goal for us, that’s for sure, a real big goal,” said Oilers coach Dave Tippett. “It got us going, and our power play got us a big one at the end of the second and that was enough to get us a win.”

“It was nice to get an opportunity there and our unit cashed in on one,” said Foegele, who was acquired in an off-season trade with the Carolina Hurricanes. “There’s a lot of special talent on that first unit there and we get to watch it on the bench just like you guys get to watch.”

Draisaitl tallied his fifth of the campaign with 40 seconds remaining in the middle frame. With Oliver Ekman-Larsson in the penalty box, Draisaitl beat Demko with a one-timer from the right circle, set up by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and McDavid, who started the play by bouncing a shot off the shin of defender Luke Schenn.

With the assists, McDavid and Nugent-Hopkins both extended their season-long point streaks to seven games. And while it was the first time all season that McDavid has been held to just one point in a game, he moved back into first place in the NHL scoring race with 16 points from his first seven games.

McDavid finished the night with 13 shot attempts, including nine shots on goal. Early in the third period, Demko denied him on three quick close-in shots from the goalmouth.

For Vancouver, Schenn played his 800th career NHL game, while Tucker Poolman and Jason Dickinson drew back into the lineup after being sidelined with injuries.

“It was a hard-fought hockey game tonight, no goals 5-on-5,” said Vancouver coach Travis Green. “We came out on the wrong side of it.

“I don’t like losing. Our team doesn’t like losing, but I thought we probably took a step in the right direction for some of our guys tonight.”

“Things are going well,” said Foegele, on the Edmonton side. “But like we keep saying, it’s early, try to take it day by day. You don’t want to get too far ahead of yourself and you know how good this league can be. So keep playing fast, simple and the results should show.”

The Oilers return home to host the Seattle Kraken for the first time on Monday, while the Canucks host the New York Rangers on Tuesday.

NOTES: It was the second meeting between the Oilers and Canucks this season. On Oct. 13, Edmonton beat Vancouver 3-2 in a shootout in both teams’ season opener … Edmonton held a 6-4-0 edge in last year’s North Division season series … The Oilers and Canucks both lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in their last games. It was Edmonton’s first defeat of the year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Oct. 30, 2021.

Carol Schram, The Canadian Press

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Alberta premier defends new rules on in-person learning, no mask mandates in schools

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By Dean Bennett and Colette Derworiz

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith is defending new rules ordering schools to provide in-person learning during the current wave of viral illnesses, saying a clear, measured response is crucial for students and parents.

“We need a normal school environment for our children, and we need to make sure that the classrooms stay open to be able to support our parents,” Smith said at a news conference in Medicine Hat on Friday.

“That’s why we made the decision that we did — to give that clear direction.”

Her comments came a day after she announced regulatory changes saying school boards must provide in-person learning. Schools also can’t require students to wear masks in school or be forced to take classes online.

The changes take effect immediately.

“Anyone is welcome to wear a mask if they feel that that is the right choice for them, but we should not be forcing parents to mask their kids, and we shouldn’t be denying education to kids who turn up without a mask,” Smith said.

She has said mask rules and toggling from online to in-person learning adversely affected the mental health, development and education of students during the COVID-19 pandemic and strained parents scrambling to make child-care arrangements when schools shut down.

That’s over, Smith said.

“We’re just not going to normalize these kind of extreme measures every single respiratory virus season,” she said.

School boards have been asking for more direction as a slew of seasonal respiratory and gastrointestinal illnesses, along with some COVID-19 cases, have led to high classroom absentee rates and have jammed children’s hospitals.

In Edmonton, Trisha Estabrooks, board chair for Edmonton Public Schools, said the decision provided the clarity that the board was seeking.

“All Albertans now understand that it’s not within the jurisdiction, and nor should it ever have been within the jurisdiction of individual school boards, to make decisions that belong to health officials,” said Estabrooks.

She said the province has made it clear that any future public health order would supersede the new rules.

The in-person learning change applies to grades 1-12 in all school settings, including public, separate, francophone, public charter and independent schools.

The masking change applies to those same grades and schools, but also to early childhood services.

The Opposition NDP criticized the new rules, saying it’s unrealistic to force schools to be all things to all students while also handling a wave of viral illnesses and not providing additional supports to do it.

Jason Schilling, head of the Alberta Teachers’ Association, said the government needs to work with school boards to figure out how to make this work.

“You have schools that are struggling to staff the building, (they) can’t get substitute teachers, teachers are sick, they’re covering each other’s classes, principals are covering the classes,” Schilling said in an interview.

“And then to say if you go online, you are to still offer the same programming in person — we just don’t have the people to do that.”

Wing Li, communications director for public education advocacy organization, Support our Students, said it will be difficult for schools to offer hybrid learning without any additional resources.

“There are no teachers,” Li said in an interview. “Pivoting online was mostly due to staffing shortages, which is worse now three years in.”

Li said online learning is challenging for students but, when temporary and supported, can keep schools and communities safe from spreading illness.

“This is a quite aggressive use of the Education Act to enshrine an ideology,” she said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 25, 2022

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Don’t have a cow: Senator’s legen-dairy speech draws metaphor from bovine caper

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OTTAWA — Haven’t you herd? A dramatic tale of 20 escaped cows, nine cowboys and a drone recently unfolded in St-Sévère, Que., and it behooved a Canadian senator to milk it for all it was worth.

Prompting priceless reactions of surprise from her colleagues, Sen. Julie Miville-Dechêne recounted the story of the bovine fugitives in the Senate chamber this week — and attempted to make a moo-ving point about politics.

“Honourable senators, usually, when we do tributes here, it is to recognize the achievements of our fellow citizens,” Miville-Dechêne began in French, having chosen to wear a white blouse with black spots for the occasion.

“However, today, I want to express my amused admiration for a remarkably determined herd of cows.”

On a day when senators paid tribute to a late Alberta pastor, the crash of a luxury steamer off the coast of Newfoundland in 1918 and environmental negotiators at the recent climate talks in Egypt, senators seated near Miville-Dechêne seemed udderly taken aback by the lighter fare — but there are no reports that they had beef with what she was saying.

Miville-Dechêne’s storytelling touched on the highlights of the cows’ evasion of authorities after a summer jailbreak — from their wont to jump fences like deer to a local official’s entreaty that she would not go running after cattle in a dress and high heels.

The climax of her narrative came as nine cowboys — eight on horseback, one with a drone — arrived from the western festival in nearby St-Tite, Que., north of Trois-Rivières, and nearly nabbed the vagabonds before they fled through a cornfield.

“They are still on the run, hiding in the woods by day and grazing by night,” said Miville-Dechêne, with a note of pride and perhaps a hint of fromage. 

She neglected to mention the reported costs of the twilight vandalism, which locals say has cost at least $20,000.

But Miville-Dechêne did save some of her praise for the humans in the story, congratulating the municipal general manager, Marie-Andrée Cadorette, for her “dogged determination,” and commending the would-be wranglers for stepping up when every government department and police force in Quebec said there was nothing they could do. 

“There is a political lesson in there somewhere,” said the former journalist.

Miville-Dechêne ended on what could perhaps be interpreted as a butchered metaphor about non-partisanship: “Finally, I would like to confess my unbridled admiration for these cows that have found freedom and are still out there, frolicking about. While we overcomplicate things, these cows are learning to jump fences.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Nov. 26, 2022.

Marie-Danielle Smith, The Canadian Press

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