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Alberta

Flames looking for ‘foundation’ after Game 2 loss: ‘We’re playing into their hands’

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CALGARY — Tyler Toffoli doesn’t recognize this version of his team.

And if the Flames don’t get back to what’s made them successful all season, Calgary could be in big trouble against its high-flying provincial rival.

Toffoli scored in the second period to give the home side a 3-1 lead Friday, but the Edmonton Oilers stormed back with four unanswered goals to secure a 5-3 victory that evened the teams’ second-round playoff series 1-1.

“Since I’ve been here we’ve done a really good job of playing our type of hockey,” said Toffoli, who was acquired from the Montreal Canadiens in February. “The past two games here we haven’t really been playing to our foundation.

“It’s been getting away from us.”

The Flames — normally creatures of a well-defined structure — weren’t thrilled with their performance in a wild 9-6 victory in Game 1 of the first post-season Battle of Alberta in 31 years.

Calgary was even less enthused after Connor McDavid and Co. scored consecutive goals on the power play, at four-on-four and shorthanded to grab hold of proceedings and send the best-of-seven matchup to Edmonton even ahead of Sunday’s Game 3.

“They’re a high-scoring team,” Flames head coach Darryl Sutter said. “The individual skill sets for them can win hockey games.

“That was the difference tonight.”

The feeling from the Flames in the wake of Friday’s loss was they’re fine as long as the action remains at five-on-five.

But when the likes of McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, who combined for two goals and three assists, get a chance to start wheeling around the offensive zone with more space is when Calgary gets into trouble.

“We’re playing into their hands,” Flames defenceman Noah Hanifin said. “When you’re playing those four-on-fours and you’re short a lot, it’s tough when their top guys can touch the puck and feel it a bit.

“We’ve got to clean that up.”

Toffoli lamented his team’s lack of discipline in a game that was there for the taking — especially early.

“We took too many penalties,” the winger said after the Oilers connected on one of their six power plays. “We’ve got away from our type of game and started playing their game. When that happens they have guys that can do some of the things that they did.

“We didn’t do a good job.”

So why has Calgary strayed from a style that got the club to the top of the Pacific Division at the season’s most critical juncture?

“I’m not really sure,” Toffoli said. “It’s something that we have to talk about within ourselves. At the end of the day, I’ve said last series as well, nobody’s going to do it — it’s only us.

“We have to find a way to get back to it and play five-on-five hockey and take over games.”

Calgary jumped out to a 2-0 lead just over six minutes into Friday’s contest after pushing ahead 3-0 in Game 2, but allowed Edmonton to find its footing.

“The main thing for us is just trying to keep it five-on-five,” Hanifin said. “We’re having good starts. We like our game at five-on-five.

“It’s just when we start getting into those situations where it’s four-on-four and stuff, it’s not to our advantage, not our game, and they have success.”

Toffoli, who won the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, said the Flames simply need to get back to their old, trusted habits as the series now shifts to the Alberta capital.

“It’s playoff hockey, it’s not going to be perfect every single night,” he said. “Things happen within a game and we have to stay composed.

“If we stay five-on-five we’re in a good spot.”

So far in this series, however, that’s been easier said than done.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 20, 2022.

___

Follow @JClipperton_CP on Twitter.

Joshua Clipperton, The Canadian Press

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Alberta

‘Short-term pain’: Group of Alberta lawyers escalate job action over legal aid cases

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By Bill Graveland in Calgary

Alberta criminal defence lawyers are taking another step in their dispute with the provincial government over the amount of compensation paid by Legal Aid Alberta.

Organizations representing lawyers in Edmonton, Calgary, Red Deer and southern Alberta began job action Aug. 8 by refusing to accept certain bail and duty counsel files from legal aid.

The lawyers also began refusing certificates for new cases for the most serious criminal charges, including sexual offences, firearms-related crimes and homicides.

Beginning Monday, they say all services will be withdrawn.

“We’re going to stop taking all certificates. That will include some our prior job actions still allowed us to take certificates for people who are already existing clients and there will be a very, very limited set of circumstances now where our members will do that,” said Kelsey Sitar, vice-president of the Criminal Defence Lawyers Association in Calgary.

“The default will be: ‘We are just not taking any new work from legal aid until the problem is fixed.'”

Sitar made her comments at a rally in front of the Calgary Courts Centre on Friday that drew about 50 criminal defence lawyers.

A table with a sign reading “Save Legal Aid” offered bake goods for sale. Lawyers carried signs reading “Access 2 Justice Must be Equal.” Another read: “This sign is too small to fit my outrage.”

“This is drastic. I mean, what we were doing up until now is something I know has happened in Ontario before, it did not last long, frankly,” Sitar said.

“I can tell you that none of us want to be out here. We all want to be in there doing our jobs.”

Justice Minister Tyler Shandro has said nothing is going to be done until a review of the Legal Aid Alberta administrative system is complete, which is scheduled for next month.

He said any budget changes for legal aid wouldn’t happen until next year.

Sitar said the ministry chose to undertake “an incomplete and, frankly, useless review” at a time when the governing United Conservative Party is about to go through a leadership change.

“So we have to act now and they need to respond now,” she said.

Sitar said she understands the people being affected the most by the job action will be people with lower incomes who need the services to afford legal representation.

“It’s short-term pain right now,” she said. “It’s really unfortunate, but I can tell you that most of the people I’ve talked to on the street who are finding themselves caught up in this understand and are grateful that we’re doing it.”

Alberta Opposition NDP Leader Rachel Notley said the problem has been growing over the last three years. She said when her party was in power, it committed to additional funding for Legal Aid, but the UCP government backtracked.

“We simply cannot be asking the Legal Aid bar to be doing what we are asking them to do at the rate that we are asking them to do it,” she told reporters.

“We have the lowest funding for Legal Aid in the country. What that means is that we don’t have equal access to justice. It undermines the integrity of our justice system and, overall, it undermines our ability to build a sense of community safety, community security and an overall respect for the rule of law — all of which are important to community health and economic growth.

“It sounds like a niche issue, but it’s not. It actually has knock-off effects to very, very important issues that affect all of us. So, the government needs to come to the table and negotiate decently with these lawyers.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.

— With files from Colette Derworiz in Calgary.

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Alberta

‘Kind of like carnies’: International balloon festival returns to High River, Alta.

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By Bill Graveland in High River, Alberta

The windswept prairie east of the Rocky Mountains seems an unlikely spot for a hot-air balloon festival, but the town of High River, Alta., is celebrating the event’s 10th year.

More than 20 brightly coloured balloons — including a pink elephant, a black and yellow bee and the purple and yellow Eye of Ra, named after the Egyptian sun god — took advantage of a lull in the prevailing wind this week to get some up-in-the-air time to mark the opening of the Heritage Inn International Balloon Festival.

“We get about 50 per cent of our flights off. Weather impacts us everywhere,” said event director Jamie Kinghorn, who is also a town councillor.

“This is our 10th. We started in 2013 partly because of the flood that happened. I’d been to a number of balloon events and thought this might lift the spirits of the folks in town.”

The town of 12,000 just south of Calgary gained an international profile in 2013 when flooding in parts of southern Alberta caused billions of dollars in damage.

High River was one of the hardest-hit communities. Entire neighbourhoods were under water for weeks.

“I called in a bunch of friends from the balloon community and they knew what happened, so 20 of them came into High River and we put on a balloon festival that was actually amazing for the community,” Kinghorn said.

“That was sort of the first major thing toward recovery after the flood and we’ve been doing it every year since at the end of September.”

Kinghorn said the festival is a boon to local tourism and there’s not a hotel room to be had in town.

He had his first hot air balloon over the city of Calgary in 1988. A year later he was a balloon pilot.

There are 23 balloons participating this year, including some from the United States, Belgium and the United Kingdom.

Kinghorn said it’s a pretty small community.

“We tend to meet at various events. We tend to travel. We’re kind of like carnies to some extent,” he said with a laugh.

“We travel around to different cities to different balloon events.”

Alan Davidson, who has been involved in the sport since 1977, is one of the volunteers.

He said those who get involved tend to stick with it.

“The amazing thing is that there are still seven or eight of the people I was ballooning with in the ’70s and early ’80s who are still here at this event,” said Davidson. “They’ve been working with balloons for over 40 years.”

Kinghorn, who is the owner and pilot of the Eye of Ra, was the first balloon in the air Thursday morning after a Wednesday evening flight was cancelled due to the wind.

“My God am I glad we got this off,” he said as the flight came to an end.

The festival runs through Sunday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 23, 2022.

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