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Johnson dazzles, Canada tops Czechia 5-1 in world junior hockey championship

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By Gemma Karstens-Smith in Edmonton

Kent Johnson has been working for years on a move that stuns goalies and hockey fans alike.

On Saturday, he executed it in a big way, scoring a highlight-reel-worthy goal that helped Canada to a 5-1 win over Czechia at the world junior hockey championship.

Johnson put away the dazzling game winner 19 minutes into the first period, scooping the puck on to his stick blade behind the net, picking it up as he glided forward and swirling it in over the Czech goalie’s shoulder for an elusive “Michigan” goal.

The move — also known as a lacrosse goal — is something the Columbus Blue Jackets prospect has been honing for about six years.

“I’ve been practising that move since I was like, 14, and doing it,” he said. “Now it’s just something that’s kind of in the tool box.”

Still, pulling it out to give the Canadians a 2-1 lead — one they never relinquished — was exciting.

“It’s a big goal, a really good one,” said Johnson, who added an assist in the third period. “I think it’s the period I was having, too. I think I would have been pretty pumped for it to go off my skate, too.”

The play drew wild cheers from the crowd of 5,135 at Rogers Place. On the ice, Johnson’s linemate Logan Stankoven held his gloved hands above his head and uttered “Oh my God!”

“That was probably one of the nicest Michigans I’ve seen, honestly,” said Canada’s captain, Mason McTavish. “He got it up so fast and at the end of the first period, the ice isn’t that great then. So that was something special to watch. I’ll definitely be watching that over and over again.”

McTavish scored twice for Canada (3-0-0) on Saturday, while Ridly Greig and Tyson Foerster each found the back of the net. Jack Thompson, Ronan Seeley and Stankoven each contributed a pair of assists.

Czechia (1-1-1) opened the scoring with a short-handed goal early in the first period.

Jaroslav Chmelar was sent to the box after running fellow New York Rangers prospect Brennan Othmann into the boards from behind and leaving the Canadian with a bloody nose.

The play was reviewed and Chmelar was ejected with a game misconduct. His team was left to kill a five-minute major penalty.

Rysavy gave the Czech’s some breathing room, putting a shot up under the crossbar 5:10 into the game. The puck bounced out of the net and the play continued, but a video review moments later showed the puck had crossed the goal line.

The way Canada rallied bodes well for the rest of the tournament, said Othmann.

“It’s just a little bit of adversity. And that’s OK in these games,” he said. “I think that builds more character for the important games, elimination games. And it just shows that we’re resilient. It doesn’t matter who we’re playing, we’re going to keep going.”

It was a busy night in net for Czech goalie Tomas Suchanek, who stopped 52 of 57 shots.

McTavish was first to beat the netminder, putting away the equalizer 16:44 into the opening frame by deflecting in Thompson’s long blast through traffic.

Seconds earlier, Suchanek made an eye-popping stop to preserve his team’s lead. Stationed at the side of the net, Johnson got a quick shot off on the out-of-position netminder but Suchanek slid over just in time to make a diving glove save.

“I was a little bit lucky,” the Czech goalie admitted. “The puck went into the slot and I saw he was going to pass it across and I just put my glove out and he just shot it in my glove. I was like ‘Oh my god, what just happened?’ I watched the replay and it was pretty fun. I just said to myself ‘Good job’ and I kept going.”

Canada’s head coach Dave Cameron said he was “nervous” early in the game about how well Suchanek was playing.

“This tournament, now as the games get better and the competition gets tougher, you have to stick with it,” he said. ” (Suchanek) was really good and we stuck with it and found a way.”

At the other end of the ice, Dylan Garand made 22 saves to collect his second win of the tournament for the Canadians.

Canada took a 3-1 lead 4:48 into the frame thanks to a power-play goal.

Czechia’s Gabriel Szturc was called for roughing and five seconds into the man advantage, Greig tipped in Seeley’s shot for his second goal of the tournament.

Canada was 1 for 3 on the power play Saturday while Czechia went 0 for 2.

Teen phenom Connor Bedard set up Canada’s fourth goal of the night, slicing a crisp pass to McTavish, who was alone at the top of the slot. He stickhandled his way in and put a shot through the goalie’s legs for his second goal of the game 11:05 into the second.

Foerster sealed the score 7:39 into the third period, collecting a pass from Johnson in the middle of the slot, winding up and blasting a massive shot past Suchanek to give the Canadians a 5-1 advantage.

Earlier on Saturday, the reigning champion Americans (3-0-0) remained undefeated with a lopsided 7-0 victory over Austria (0-3-0).

Austrian goalie Leon Sommer stopped 49 of the 56 shots he faced.

“I love those kind of games,” he said with a smile. “Lots of shots.”

Saturday’s workload wasn’t the largest Sommer has shouldered in world juniors action — he faced 64 shots in a 11-2 loss to Canada before COVID-19 scrubbed the original 2022 tournament in December.

“I guess I get the tough ones,” the goalie said. “But I love those.”

In Saturday’s final game, Germany recorded its second win by outlasting winless Switzerland 3-2. Germany is now 2-1-0, while Switzerland slips to 0-3-0.

Canada will wrap up round robin play against Finland (2-0-0) on Monday.

The preliminary round continues through Monday, with the quarterfinals set for Wednesday. The semifinals are scheduled for Friday and the medal games will be played next Saturday.

NOTES: McTavish leads the tournament with 10 points (six goals, four assists). … Canada has outscored its opponents 21-4 across its first three games of the tournament. … Both sides were coming off a rest day after Canada routed Slovakia 11-1 on Thursday while the Czechs fell 4-3 in a shootout to Finland the same day.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 13, 2022.

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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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september, 2022

tue27sep10:00 am4:00 pmCACPC Annual SHRED Event10:00 am - 4:00 pm MST The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre, 4311-49 Ave Event Organized By: The Central Alberta Crime Prevention Centre

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