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Alberta

Oilers’ offence takes off, grounds Jets 6-3

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Winnipeg Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck (37) is scored on by Edmonton Oilers’ Kailer Yamamoto (56) during second period NHL action in Edmonton on Friday March 3, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson

By Shane Jones in Edmonton

When you have teammates like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, it is pretty easy to be overshadowed, but Ryan Nugent-Hopkins continues to step into the spotlight in a career year.

Nugent-Hopkins had two goals and two assists as the Edmonton Oilers won their second game in a row, defeating the Winnipeg Jets 6-3 on Friday.

“I want to be involved every night that I can be in a positive way,” said Nugent-Hopkins, who has 77 points this season, well ahead of his previous best 69 in 2018-2019.

“Guys are finding me with great passes. I know that I need to step up a little bit offensively and help produce and still try to play that two-way game. I think it just goes to show the way that we are rolling as a team right now. The individual stuff kind of comes from the team playing well.”

Kailer Yamamoto and Draisaitl each had two goals and an assist and McDavid had three assists for the Oilers (34-21-8) who have won four of their last six.

“Our effort was great, the work rate was where it needed to be and the ability to draw as many penalties as we did is a credit to the way we were skating,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft. “We built a big lead and found a way to get the win.”

Axel Jonsson-Fjallby, Brenden Dillon and Mark Scheifele scored for the Jets (35-24-2), who have lost five in a row and seven of their last eight games.

“I’ve never coached a team, I don’t think, that was so undisciplined and took so many penalties. You play a third of the game short-handed against that team, they’re going to make you look bad and they made us look bad tonight,” said Jets coach Rick Bowness.

“We made them look a whole lot better than they are. They are a good team, there’s no question about that. My point is we made it very easy for them to play their game.”

Edmonton’s lethal power play got them off to a good start just 2:06 into the opening period when Nugent-Hopkins scrambled to get the puck across to Draisaitl, who beat Jets starter Connor Hellebuyck from a sharp angle to extend his points streak to 11 games. It was Draisaitl’s 24th power-play goal.

McDavid also picked up an assist to extend his points streak to nine games and give him points in 41 of his last 43.

The Oilers added to their lead 1:44 into the second period when Nugent-Hopkins intercepted a clearing attempt by Dylan DeMelo and sent a snap shot stick-side past Hellebuyck for his 29th of the season, a new career high for the 29-year-old.

Nugent-Hopkins continued to put his stamp on the game midway through the second as he made a fine defensive play before sending a long stretch pass to send Yamamoto in on a breakaway, beating the Jets goalie with a deke.

Just 40 seconds later Yamamoto scored his second of the game as a Brett Kulak shot was blocked in front but came out in front to the Spokane, Washington native, who scored his eighth and third in the last two games.

David Rittich came in to replace Hellebuyck in the Winnipeg net to start the third.

Edmonton made it 5-0 just 2:26 on a beautiful three-way passing play on the power play that ended up with Nugent-Hopkins recording his 30th.

The Jets finally got one past Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner four minutes later as Jonsson-Fjallby jumped up to pick up a rebound to record his fifth.

The Oilers quickly responded on a highlight-reel sequence as Draisaitl was able to put a dislodged Winnipeg net back on its moorings before getting the puck back and putting a shot through a seemingly impossibly small hole for his 38th of the season.

“I watched the replay and it was pretty cool,” Yamamoto said. “Not many players can make that shot.”

Winnipeg had a late surge and got a power-play goal of its own as a giveaway allowed Scheifele to rifle home his 35th, and just over a minute later Brenden Dillon snuck in from the point and notched his second of the year to make it 6-3.

“Hopefully that’s what we said before the third period is to go out there and try and our best and try to build on that for (Saturday),” said Jonsson-Fjallby. “I thought the third period was a little better, but overall it wasn’t a good game.”

NOTES

Since the two teams last met on New Year’s Eve and the Jets came away with a 2-1 win, they have gone in opposite directions. Coming into the game, Winnipeg had gone 12-11-1 in 2023 and had scored just 20 goals in their last nine outings. In the same span, the Oilers had gone 13-5-6 and were leading the league by averaging 4.21 goals per game. … Winnipeg acquired forward Vladislav Namestnikov on trade deadline day from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2025 NHL entry draft. Namestnikov, who had previously been traded to the Sharks from Tampa Bay a couple of days earlier, did not make it to Edmonton in time for the game. Also unable to make his debut for his new team was hulking centre Nick Bjugstad, dealt to the Oilers by the Arizona Coyotes on Tuesday. Bjugstad is expected to play for Edmonton on Saturday, in what will be his 600th NHL game. … Oilers forward Evander Kane missed his seventh straight game with an upper-body issue, but remains day-to-day and is expected to be back during their upcoming road trip. … Out with injuries for the Jets were Cole Perfetti (upper body), Mason Appleton (upper body) and Pierre-Luc Dubois (lower body). … Jets forward David Gustafsson returned after missing the last 20 games with an upper-body injury. … Draisaitl is the eighth player in NHL history to have back-to-back seasons with at least 24 power-play goals. … Yamamoto’s two goals in 40 seconds is the fastest pair of goals by an Oiler since Taylor Hall scored twice in eight seconds in 2013.

UP NEXT

The teams play each other again on Saturday in Winnipeg, the start of a three-game homestand for the Jets and a four-game road trip for the Oilers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2023.

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Alberta

Running Reins Ranch in Red Deer County picks up $250,000 grant from province

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Running Reins Ranch partners with members of the local Indigenous community to set-up teepee accommodations and host regular cultural programming for guests.

Tourism investment fuels growth in rural Alberta

Alberta’s government continues to support regional tourism opportunities across the province, generating jobs and new tourism destinations for locals and visitors alike.  

Ahead of World Tourism Day 2023, Minister of Tourism and Sport Joseph Schow visited Running Reins Ranch to see first-hand how tourism investment grants are making a difference in the lives of Albertans.

“Alberta’s government is proud to invest in growing visitor destinations like Running Reins Ranch that celebrate the richness and diversity of Alberta’s rural destinations and provide a sustainable tourism experience for visitors to enjoy.”

Joseph Schow, Minister of Tourism and Sport

As part of the Tourism Investment Program, Running Reins Ranch received a $250,000 grant from Travel Alberta.

“Our investment will support the building of additional unique accommodations at the ranch that will triple their capacity, emphasize their year-round offerings and create five new full-time jobs. This investment in Running Reins Ranch is a perfect example of how Travel Alberta is driving tourism growth in rural communities across the province.”

Jon Mamela, chief commercial officer, Travel Alberta

Running Reins is located east of Innisfail, offering cabin and teepee accommodations and a wide range of outdoor activities for visitors looking to combine the beauty of the Prairies with farm experiences for a one-of-a-kind getaway.

Right to Left: Minister of Tourism and Sport Joseph Schow, Owners of Running Reins Ranch Terry and Janice Scott, and team member Grace Finlan.

“This funding is a game-changer for us and our business. We are excited to bring our vision to life and provide visitors with unforgettable experiences while supporting the economic growth of the surrounding community.”

Janice and Terry Scott, owners, Running Reins Ranch

Tourism is Alberta’s No. 1 service export sector. In 2019, Alberta welcomed 34.6 million visitors, generating $10.1 billion in expenditures and supporting more than 80,000 full-time jobs. The Tourism Investment Program is Travel Alberta’s commitment to investing $15 million annually with communities and operators to develop the province’s tourism sector. Developing Alberta’s rural and agri-tourism sector is an essential component of the government’s efforts to grow Alberta’s tourism economy to more than $20 billion by 2035.

Quick facts

  • In 2022-23, Travel Alberta funded 166 projects across 73 communities – about 75 per cent of the projects and 70 per cent of the funding were in smaller urban and rural areas of the province.
  • In December 2022, Alberta’s government released its Economic Development in Rural Alberta Plan, with supporting initiatives that demonstrate the government’s commitment to building healthy and prosperous communities across rural Alberta and Indigenous communities.
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Alberta

Company at centre of E. coli outbreak at Calgary daycares faces licensing charges

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Alberta Health Minister Adriana LaGrange speaks to the media about an E. coli outbreak linked to multiple Calgary daycares in Calgary on Tuesday, Sept. 12, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

By Colette Derworiz in Calgary

The company that runs a commercial kitchen at the centre of an E. coli outbreak that has infected hundreds at numerous Calgary daycares has been charged with operating without a business licence.

The City of Calgary announced Wednesday that Fueling Minds Inc. and its two directors face a total of 12 charges under municipal business bylaws and face a total fine of up to $120,000.

The company declined to comment on the charges in an emailed statement Wednesday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Alberta chief medical officer Dr. Mark Joffe said the number of cases has plateaued at 351, and tests and interviews indicate the cause of the outbreak was meat loaf and vegan loaf.

He said there are also 37 confirmed secondary cases and four children remain in hospital.

Fueling Minds provided meals to six of its own daycares that were affected by the outbreak, which was declared Sept. 4, and also to five separate daycares.

The city alleges Fueling Minds did not have the proper licence to serve those other five.

Joffe said the investigation into the cause of the outbreak included interviews with hundreds of parents and daycare staffers and the testing of 44 food samples.

“We believe that meat loaf and vegan loaf meals that were served for lunch on Aug. 29 most likely contained the E. coli bacteria that led to these infections,” said Joffe.

“Unfortunately, neither of these items could be tested as they were either eaten or discarded before this outbreak was identified.

“While we now have a likely source, what we do not know exactly is what was contaminated or how.”

The company’s statement said the “exact source of the infections has not yet been identified” and it continues to work with Alberta Health Services on its ongoing investigation.

Joffe said the province is to hire a third party to verify its work and findings.

Premier Danielle Smith said former Calgary police chief Rick Hanson would lead a panel to investigate what went wrong and make recommendations on how to make commercially prepared food safer in daycares.

Smith said the panel does not have a set timeline, but she expects to hear from him monthly and would implement interim recommendations if necessary rather than wait for the final report.

“Mr. Hanson will be joined by Alberta parents, childcare operators, food service operators, and food safety and public health experts,” said Smith.

“The panel will be examining all aspects of this tragic situation, large and small, as well as taking a full broader look at the legislation and regulations that govern food safety in our province.”

Smith said she met with parents of affected children, and a policy change they suggested was posting kitchen health inspection reports in a daycare rather than just online.

Health Minister Adriana LaGrange and Searle Turton, minister for children and family services, are already reviewing food handling in commercial daycare kitchens.

The kitchen remains closed and in recent months has been flagged for numerous health violations, including food transportation concerns.

Diana Batten, the Opposition NDP critic for childcare and child and family services, said Wednesday’s developments were a good start to getting answers.

“This will really help some of the families I’m speaking with,” she told reporters.

“However, it brings up or illustrates there’s a lot of problems inside the system. We heard Premier Smith talk about how we should trust now that the system is safe. Why? We continue to identify more concerns.”

Batten said a panel isn’t going to help solve those problems.

“It’s just spending more money and, honestly, putting a Band-Aid on what is honestly a huge public health crisis.”

The province has promised parents affected by the closures in the original 11 daycares a one-time payment of $2,000 per child to cover off financial hardship. Those facilities were closed Sept. 4 but have since reopened.

Eight more daycares faced closures or partial closures in the days that followed as secondary cases were identified.

Smith said last week that the compensation program would only be available to parents of the 11 daycares at the root of the outbreak.

Turton, however, confirmed parents affected by the later closures would also be eligible for the one-time payments, and that was the plan all along.

“The program hasn’t expanded,” said Turton.

“It’s important to note that just more daycares since the original announcement have actually become eligible for those payments.”

— With files from Dean Bennett in Edmonton

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on Sept. 27, 2023.

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