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Alberta

Flames outlast Stars in OT to seize series win, advance to second round

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By Donna Spencer in Calgary

The Calgary Flames won a playoff series for just the second time in the last 17 years with Sunday’s 3-2 overtime win over the Dallas Stars in the seventh and deciding game of their series.

Johnny Gaudreau scored the overtime winner at 15:09.

He collected a rebound and put a sharp-angled shot over Stars goalie Jake Oettinger, who made 61 saves in the game.

The Flames will face the Edmonton Oilers in the Western Conference’s semifinal in the first post-season Battle of Alberta since 1991. The series opens Wednesday in Calgary.

Tyler Toffoli and Matthew Tkachuk scored their first goals of the series for the Flames.

Calgary’s goalie Jacob Markstrom stopped 26 shots and had an assist in the win.

Jamie Benn and Vladislav Namestnikov scored for the Stars.

After reaching the Stanley Cup final in 2004 when Calgary fell in seven games to the Tampa Bay Lightning — 2005 was a lockout year — the Flames didn’t win another playoff series until 2015 when Calgary was bounced in the second round by Anaheim.

Calgary (50-21-11) headed into this year’s playoffs the higher seed atop the Pacific Division, while Dallas (46-30-6) earned the first wild-card spot in the conference.

Playoff success scant in recent years, the Flames were under considerable pressure to win the first Game 7 in 16 years in front of a sellout at the Saddledome, and back up a stellar regular season with some post-season progress.

Calgary outshot Dallas 52-23 over three periods Sunday, but the score was deadlocked heading into the first overtime period of the series.

Oettinger stopped Gaudreau on his doorstep near the 11-minute mark of the third, followed by Markstrom stoning Jacob Petersen on a breakaway.

The Flames drew even in the second period on Tkachuk’s goal a second after a Dallas minor expired.

Markstrom head-manned the puck to Gaudreau, who dished to Tkachuk for a sharp-angled shot top corner at 8:44.

Namestnikov made it 2-1 for Dallas just 31 seconds after Toffoli had tied the game.

Namestnikov one-timed a wrist shot by Markstrom on a lateral feed from Joe Pavelski off the rush at 2:17.

Toffoli tipped in Oliver Kylington’s shot from the boards just inside the blue-line at 1:46.

The Flames outshot Dallas 17-8 in the first period, but the visitors led 1-0 on Benn’s goal 40 seconds after puck drop.

Tyler Seguin from the side of the net fed Benn in the mid-slot and the Stars’ captain beat Markstrom stick side.

Dallas was without top-line centre Roope Hintz (upper-body injury) and forward Luke Glendening (lower body) for Game 7. Forward Radek Faksa (upper body) did not play Sunday’s third period.

Calgary’s top shutdown defenceman Chris Tanev was also scratched with an undisclosed injury.

Almost half of the 2022 edition of the Flames had never won a playoff round, while the Stars were deep in that experience having lost to the Lightning in the Cup final two years ago in Edmonton.

The series was a goaltending showcase.

On the back of a breakout performance by 23-year-old Oettinger and punishing defence around their crease, the Stars held a high-scoring offence to 10 even-strength goals in seven games.

Markstrom saw less rubber than Oettinger, but made the acrobatic, timely saves to give his team a chance to win in every game and held off the Stars when Dallas pressed early in the extra period.

The Stars boasted more recent Game 7 experience having edged the Colorado Avalanche in overtime two years ago to reach the conference final.

But Flames coach Darryl Sutter has coached an abundance of them with his 8-3 record now unmatched by any other NHL coach in wins.

Calgary opened the series with a 1-0 win and a 2-0 loss at home before earning a split at American Airlines Center.

The Flames then won 2-1 at home and lost 4-2 in Dallas to send series back to Calgary for the finale.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 15, 2022.

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Alberta

Saskatchewan ranchers call for investigation into retail meat pricing

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REGINA — A group of Canadian ranchers is calling for an investigation into meat pricing.

The Saskatchewan Stock Growers Association says it’s asking the provincial and federal governments to look into what it calls an “imbalance” between the price ranchers receive for the cattle and the price consumers pay at the meat counter.

The group says many ranchers and feedlots are operating at a loss this year. Grass is still scarce on the Prairies due to last summer’s drought, and the cost of feed grain and fuel has skyrocketed since last year.

But packers and retailers are reporting strong profits this year. The Stock Growers say they believe slaughterhouses may be intentionally running fewer shifts to in order to keep wholesale beef prices high and allow fed cattle supplies to build up in the countryside.

In the U.S., the Biden administration has already expressed concerns about rising meat prices and vowed to implement policies aimed at increasing competition in the meat-packing sector.

According to Statistics Canada, the retail price of beef is up 11.2 per cent year-over-year.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2022.

The Canadian Press

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Alberta

First test production of plastic a milestone for Heartland Petrochemical Complex

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CALGARY — The $4.3-billion Heartland Petrochemical Complex, which has been under construction northeast of Edmonton since 2018, has produced its first plastic pellets.

Owner and operator Inter Pipeline Ltd. said Tuesday the newly commissioned facility has been producing test pellets steadily since late June, an important milestone en route to the expected start of full commercial operation sometime this fall.

The Heartland Petrochemical Complex will convert Alberta propane into 525,000 tonnes per year of polypropylene beads, an easily transported form of plastic that is used in the manufacturing of a wide range of finished products.

Steven Noble, spokesman for Calgary-based Inter Pipeline, said the facility will be the first integrated propane dehydrogenation and polypropylene production facility in North America. He said approximately 70 per cent of Heartland’s total production capacity has been already contracted out to long-term customers.

“Through the duration of the project’s construction, we’ve seen demand for polypropylene increase significantly … including at one point hitting an all-time record (market price),” Noble said in an interview. “The demand that we initially forecast certainly hasn’t gone away.”

The Heartland facility is being built with the support of a $408-million grant from Alberta’s provincial government. The cash grant, part of an incentive program aimed at growing the province’s petrochemicals sector, is to be paid to Inter Pipeline in equal instalments over three years once the complex is operational.

Noble said by creating a new market for propane, the Heartland facility is an example of how natural resource development in Alberta is diversifying.

“The fact that we’re now looking at our raw resources in a different way, and figuring out different ways to get value out of them and create other refined products right here at home … is really the part of the story that everyone here is excited about,” he said.

The Heartland Petrochemical Complex is expected to employ 300 people once fully operational.

The polypropylene produced at the facility will be branded as Heartland Polymers.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 5, 2022.

Amanda Stephenson, The Canadian Press

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