Our sports history has value
Simple confirmation that the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has been operating without its standard financial aid from the provincial government prompted some interesting response during the last few days.
In a casual conversation, executive director Tracey Kinsella mentioned last week that COVID-19 made it necessary to cancel at least two annual fund-raisers – the Hall of Fame induction ceremony and its annual invitational golf tournament in Red Deer – and she was concerned about meeting routine expenses.
Consistently, the government’s contribution of $302,000 a year has been in the hands of Hall of Fame officials before the middle of the year. She expressed only mild frustration,, understanding that the coronavirus pandemic and other major financial issues have created major problems far from the world of sports. She did state that government staff members, working below the level of elected or appointed officials, have told her of their efforts to have the money forwarded as quickly as possible.
Perhaps this delay must be seen as part of a long and ongoing drop in Alberta’s financial support to amateur sports at all levels. In the 10-year period ending in 2019, the reduction reached $5.1 million – an average of $500,000 per year. We should hope not.
Some comparative figures seem to be well worth serious study:
* The economic impact of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer was $110 million; impact of the 2018 Alberta Winter Games was $3.4 million for the Fort McMurray-Wood Buffalo area and $5.6 million for this host province;
* In 2018-19, Alberta Sport Connection, a sport delivery system disbanded months ago by the UPC, provided $7.2 million to be shared among 80 provincial sport organizations that delivered programming to more than 788,000 Albertans;
* Leduc hosted the 2016 Alberta Summer Games with an economic impact of $3.6 million for the area and $4.9 million for the province.
Still, government aid has dropped. Some citizens suggest minor and amateur sports should not receive government support during troubled times. Today it might be wise to ask Fort McMurray if that community will value the 2022 Arctic Winter Games? The record shows that numerous small- and mid-sized business stepped up during the 2018 Games, a difficult time for fire victims and petroleum companies that have served as a backstop to countless community and area projects.
After the severe floods earlier this year, it’s safe to guess that any international program that will improve community morale while adding some vital dollars to the public purse will be welcome. Incidentally, they’re headed to Wood Buffalo because COVID-19 forced cancellation of the scheduled 2020 event in Whitehorse. Fortunately, some of the dollars set aside and unused in the Northwest Territories have already arrived in Fort McMurray.
These days, surrounded by a crippled economy, I wonder if Alberta now wishes the 2026 Commonwealth Games were headed for Edmonton and 2026 Winter Olympics were coming to Calgary. Both possibilities were seriously discussed before being nixed.
During my five-year term as chair of Alberta Sport Connection, the organization received steady criticism for finishing third of fourth – usually in the rear of Quebec and Ontario – in provincial medal counts. I tried regularly to help almost any government official to focus on the cost of doing business.
It made no impact to point out that Alberta’s per-capita investment in sport programs is (or was) the second-lowest in Canada. Sorry, I can’t remember which province spent less, but I am sure that Saskatchewan receives $24.39 per capita and Newfoundland gets $8.36 per capita.
Alberta receives $3.85 per capita although 82 per cent of Albertans say in polls that they believe sport contributes to quality of life. And those I have spoken to say clearly that the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame has value.
Nugent-Hopkins, Oilers roll past Golden Knights 7-4
The Edmonton Oilers celebrate a goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during the first period of an NHL hockey game Tuesday, March 28, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/Lucas Peltier)
By Mark Anderson in Las Vegas
LAS VEGAS (AP) — Ryan Nugent-Hopkins tied a career high with five points, and Edmonton’s top-ranked power play scored three goals as the Oilers beat the Vegas Golden Knights 7-4 on Tuesday night to tighten the Pacific Division race.
The Oilers, who extended their point streak to eight games, have 95 points and are three behind first-place Vegas. Los Angeles lost 2-1 to Calgary and remains in second place with 96 points.
Edmonton cooled off a Golden Knights team that had won four games in a row and eight of nine. The Oilers also prevented Vegas from clinching a playoff spot.
Nugent-Hopkins helped make sure of it with a goal and four assists. His only other five-point game occurred Nov. 19, 2011, when he had five assists against Chicago.
He was one of three Oilers with multiple points. Connor McDavid had three assists and Leon Draisaitl a goal and an assist. McDavid leads the NHL with 143 points and 83 assists.
The Oilers also got goals from Evan Bouchard, Darnell Nurse, Evander Kane, Zach Hyman and Brett Kulak. Edmonton’s power play went 3-for-3 in just 2:55 of total time, and Stuart Skinner made 19 saves.
Jonathan Marchessault had two goals for the Knights, and William Karlsson and Michael Amadio each scored once. Alex Pietrangelo added two assists.
In the first 10 minutes, the teams combined for five goals, Nugent-Hopkins had three points and a friendly fire puck to the face, the Oilers scored twice on both power-play opportunities and the Knights netted a short-handed goal.
Edmonton broke open a 3-all game in the second with three goals in the final 13:59, dominating the ice with 34 shots on goal through the first two periods compared to 12 for the Knights.
Laurent Brossoit replaced Jonathan Quick in the Knights’ net to open the third period.
Golden Knights defenceman Shea Theodore did not play in the third period. The reason wasn’t immediately provided.
The Oilers built on a number of impressive streaks. Draisaitl and Hyman each extended their goal streaks to three games, and Draisaitl’s point streak reached 10 games (six goals, 14 assists). McDavid (six goals, 13 assists) and Nugent-Hopkins (five goals, 13 assists) have ongoing nine-game streaks, and Nurse (three goals, three assists) is at six games.
Vegas also extended a couple of notable streaks. Marchessault scored for the third game in a row, and Phil Kessel has a five-game point streak (two goals, four assists).
Oilers: Thursday against Los Angeles in a battle for playoff positioning in the Pacific Division.
Golden Knights: Thursday at San Jose, which is last in the Pacific.
Markstrom reigns over Kings as Flames win 2-1
Los Angeles Kings forward Carl Grundstrom, centre, crashes into Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom, as forward Trevor Lewis hits the net during third period NHL hockey action in Calgary, Tuesday, March 28, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
By Darren Haynes in Calgary
When the Calgary Flames needed it most, goaltender Jacob Markstrom stepped up and delivered his best performance of the season.
Markstrom was spectacular on Tuesday making 33 saves to backstop the Calgary Flames to a critical 2-1 victory over the red-hot Los Angeles Kings.
“He was sharp. Made some big stops. He probably stole us two points,” said Flames centre Elias Lindholm.
After rookie Walker Duehr gave Calgary a 2-1 lead at 17:59 of the first period, it was left to Markstrom to make several key stops over the final 40-plus minutes to preserve the victory.
The Kings have been the NHL’s hottest team, entering the night on a franchise-record 12-game points streak (10-0-2) in which they outscored the opponent 52-28. Nineteen of those goals came in the last three games, all wins, including an 8-2 thumping of Calgary eight days ago in Los Angeles.
“Obviously, we’re not very happy about the last meeting against these guys and it’s still fresh in the memory. Today I thought we played a better game,” Markstrom said.
The veteran’s biggest stop came in the final minute of the first period, right after the go-ahead goal.
After two Flames got tangled up with one King outside the Calgary blue line, Kevin Fiala had nothing but time and space as he moved in from the centre line on a breakaway. As he skated in, he paused at the top of the crease before shooting with Markstrom kicking out his left pad to deny him.
“It was almost like a penalty shot or shootout,” said Lindholm. “I thought Marky stayed calm in there for a long time and read him pretty well.”
Markstom, who was starting for the 15th time in the last 16 games, said the key is to not think too much.
“Just wait him out because he wasn’t going very fast,” Markstrom said. “Wait to see what he was going to do and not bite on anything before that.”
He also had to be excellent in the second. Markstrom flashed out his glove to deny Adrian Kempe after he broke in alone. Two minutes later when the slot opened up for Matt Roy, Markstrom jabbed out his blocker to make another key stop.
Late in the third, again it was Fiala with a chance, this time set up by Mikey Anderson on a cross-ice feed, but Markstrom sprawled across with a highlight-reel save to again deny him.
“It gives a huge jump to the group, right?” said Duehr. “You see him bailing us out at times and he’s giving his best effort so we can only go out there and do the same for him.”
Andrew Mangiapane also scored for Calgary (34-26-15), which wins its second consecutive game and improves to 7-3-2 in their last dozen outings.
Combined with Winnipeg’s 3-0 loss in San Jose, the Flames have moved to within two points of the Jets, who occupy the final wild-card berth in the NHL’s Western Conference. Each team has seven games remaining including a head-to-head on April 5 at Canada Life Centre.
“It felt like a playoff game. We had our pushes, they had their pushes and I thought Marky stood on his head tonight and gave us a chance to win,” said Duehr, who continues to provide a spark since getting called up from the minors. He’s scored six goals in 21 games.
Sean Durzi had the lone goal for Los Angeles (43-21-10).
The Kings remain two points behind Vegas for first place in the Pacific Division. Edmonton is in third, just one point behind Los Angeles.
“I don’t think it was a lack of effort, certainly today. It was a hard-fought game, a physical game. For the most part we did a good job. Just obviously unfortunately we didn’t convert on a few of our chances,” said Kings captain Anze Kopitar.
Markstrom improves to 21-20-10.
In his sixth start in goal since being acquired by the Kings in a trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets, Joonas Korpisalo, tested 32 times, lost for the first time. He falls to 15-12-4 on the season.
“Both goaltenders were first and second star in whatever order you want to pick,” said Kings coach Todd McLellan. “They both played well. Korpi made some really good saves for us. He gave us a chance to have those good looks at the other end. It’s unfortunate we couldn’t reward him with at least one to get him a point.”
Momentum swung in the Kings favour halfway through the first when Rasmus Andersson’s goal, which would have made it 2-0, was waved off after an offside review. Less than two minutes later, Durzi picked the top corner to tie it.
Calgary also thought they scored in the second but upon video review, but upon video review, the call of no goal stood.
KINGS LINEUP SHUFFLE
Los Angeles made three lineup changes. Returning from a one-game suspension was Blake Lizotte. Not with the Kings to start this road trip after being injured last game was RW Gabe Vilardi (upper body). Arthur Kaliyev also drew in up front with Jaret Anderson-Dolan coming out. On the blue line, Alex Edler replaced Sean Walker.
PRIDE NIGHT AT SADDLEDOME
It was Pride Night at the Saddledome with all Flames wearing custom jerseys for warm-up that were designed by local artist Megan Parker. The Flaming C on the front and the numbers featured a pattern of flora and fauna from Alberta prairies arranged to reflect the rainbow-coloured pride flag.
Kings: Road trip continues Thursday against the Oilers.
Flames: Head to Vancouver to take on the Canucks on Friday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 28, 2023.
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