Last week our nation ran into a spree of high-profile miracles
To become a true sports fan, everyone must understand the day-to-day definition of miracle.
League championships count, of course. So do record-setting performances and, rarely, the sort of team or individual success that stamps itself on the viewer’s memory for many years.
Last week, in this humble view, our nation ran into a spree of high-profile miracles:
* Felix Auger-Alliasime, Denis Shapovalov and Vasek Pospisil became the first Canadians to reach the fourth round of the U.S. Open, among the world’s most iconic tennis tournaments;
* Little-known goaltender Thatcher Demko, a San Diego product who was virtually unknown in the NHL, constructed an amazing goaltending streak that carried the underdog Vancouver Canucks all the way to a seventh game in a Stanley Cup playoff quarter-final;
* Our best-ever basketball player, Steve Nash, accepted a contract to coach the Brooklyn Nets of the National Basketball Association.”I knew I wanted to pursue coaching if and when the right chance came.”
* Occasional starter Ogi Anunoby combined with team leader Kyle Lowry on a buzzer-beating, three-point shocker with a half-second remaining — repeat, a HALF-SECOND remaining — to keep the Toronto Raptors alive in their bid to repeat as NBA champions.
Probably the worst thing about sports miracles is that they sometimes fade at painful speed.
Apart from Shapovalov’s victory over Belgian vet David Goffin and the fact that Nash signed a long-term coaching arrangement, that’s exactly what happened this time.
After spotting Goffin the first set in a tie-breaker, the 22-year-old lefty took total control of the next three sets. Pospisil and Auger-Aliassime — known to most of his fans simply as “Double-A” — each played well but lost in the first set. There was little excitement for Canadian fans as they failed to win another set, and probably didn’t reach another break point.
Arguably, the most exciting moments, win or lose, were split between Anunoby and Demko. They also shared immense “cool” when discussing their feats.
Demko, a San Diego product who spent three years in goal at Boston College, made several references to teammates who sacrificed their bodies numerous times in the three games he played at Edmonton’s Rogers Place — two of them victories — against a bigger, stronger, faster Las Vegas team.
Anunoby was even more succinct: “I took the shot because I thought it would go in,” the budding star said without a smile. “I don’t take a shot and expect to miss it.” Later, experts compared his moment of brilliance with Kawhi Leonard’s unforgettable four-bounce shot to defeat Philadelphia on the way to last year’s title.
The future is bright for all of the young players — AA is the baby, just turned 20 years old — and for the 46-year-old Nash, as well as for Demko’s Vancouver Canucks allies, a collection of solid journeymen and fast-improving youngsters.
But things don’t look so good for the Raptors. After Anunobi’s stunner in that 104-103 victory over Boston, they posted a second win and squared the series. Unfortunately, miracles do not always carry long guarantees: the Raptors were humiliated in the fifth game of the series and could be on the sidelines for good by Thursday morning.
If another miracle arrives in Orlando tonight (Wednesday), Nick Nurse and his players are sure to make it welcome.
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Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says conservatives must learn to win in ‘big cities’
Alberta Premier Danielle Smith speaks at the Canada Strong and Free Network in Ottawa on Thursday, March 23, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Ottawa (CP) – Alberta Premier Danielle Smith says conservatives must learn how to win in “big cities.”
Smith made the comment to a room of conservatives gathered in Ottawa for the annual conference of the Canada Strong and Free Network, formerly called the Manning Centre.
With Albertans set to go the polls in a provincial election this year, Smith says the United Conservative Party has more ground to gain in the province’s two largest cities: Calgary and Edmonton.
Smith replaced Jason Kenney as party leader and premier last fall, after he resigned following a leadership review where he received only 51 per cent support.
Kenney faced considerable backlash leading up to that vote for his handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Smith told today’s crowd that the party had lost “a lot” of its base.
Smith’s belief that conservatives must make inroads in large cities is shared by the federal Conservatives, with Leader Pierre Poilievre spending many of his weekends in Metro Vancouver and the Greater Toronto Area — areas where his party has struggled to gain ground in the past several elections.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 23, 2023.
Roy scores OT winner as Golden Knights tip Oilers 4-3
Vegas Golden Knights celebrate the winning goal on Edmonton Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner (74) during overtime NHL action in Edmonton on Saturday March 25, 2023.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
By Shane Jones in Edmonton
The Vegas Golden Knights made sure to keep the Edmonton Oilers at arm’s length in the Pacific Division race.
Nicolas Roy scored the overtime winner and Jack Eichel had a goal and two assists as the Golden Knights won their fourth consecutive game, knocking off the Oilers 4-3 on Saturday night to give themselves a seven-point cushion atop the Pacific Division standings over third-place Edmonton with nine games to play.
Roy was left alone in front of the Edmonton net and deposited his own rebound past Oilers goalie Stuart Skinner 2:26 into OT.
“It’s a big win, big road trip,” said Knights defenceman Brayden McNabb. “They were sneaking up on us and we were able to get an extra point out of this game.
“We have that next-man-up mentality, it’s been that way all year. We’ve had injuries throughout the year, the guys are prepared, we have great depth, we have great goaltending and it showed tonight. It felt a little bit like a playoff game, for sure.”
Pavel Dorofeyev and Jonathan Marchessault also scored for the Knights (46-21-6) who have won eight of their last nine and sport a league-best 17-3-2 record since the NHL All-Star break.
“Gutsy win for us, it’s a divisional game and I thought we played well,” Eichel said. “It’s a really good team over there, they generate a lot of offence and I thought we did a really good job limiting them.”
Zach Hyman, Leon Draisaitl and Warren Foegele replied for the Oilers (41-23-9) who had a five-game winning streak snapped.
“It was a tight game. It was what you expect in the playoffs,” Draisaitl said. “It is obviously a team that we could face. I think we know how to handle these types of games. Obviously tonight didn’t go our way, but we will take the point.”
Vegas scored on the first shot of the game 61 seconds in as Eichel took a feed on a two-on-one from Ivan Barbashev and beat the Oilers’ starter stick-side for his 27th goal of the season.
Not to be outdone, the Oilers also scored on their first shot on Knights goalie Laurent Brossoit 3:28 into the opening frame, as Draisaitl put it right on the tape of Zach Hyman’s stick in front of the net and he redirected in his 31st. Draisaitl set a new career high for points on the play, hitting 111 after capping out at 110 points two previous seasons.
The Golden Knights regained the lead on the power play with 3:33 to play in the first period when the puck came to Dorofeyev on a broken play and he wired home his fifth of the campaign to the top right corner.
Edmonton’s lethal power play allowed them to knot the game up midway through the middle period as Connor McDavid sent it to Draisaitl in the slot and he took it on the backhand before spinning around and scoring his 45th goal of the season. It was also Draisaitl’s 28th power-play goal, the most by any player in a season since Mario Lemieux in 1995-1996.
Vegas found another gear to start the third and went ahead 3-2 almost seven minutes into the final frame as Eichel dropped a pass back in the lane to Marchessault, who beat Skinner with a one-timer.
Brossoit followed that up with a massive save on Mattias Ekholm.
Edmonton tied the game once again with 8:41 to play in the third as Foegele tied his career high by scoring his 13th on a long wrist shot to eventually send the game to extra time.
“It’s disappointing we didn’t get the two points,” said Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft. “Some of the goals we gave up were preventable. We’re going to take the lessons from tonight and learn from it.”
Edmonton won both previous meetings between the two teams this season, both by 4-3 scores. … Vegas was missing a bunch of bodies in Mark Stone (back), William Carrier (lower body), Adin Hill (lower body), Logan Thompson (undisclosed), Reilly Smith (lower body) and Alec Martinez (personal). As a result, defenceman Ben Hutton returned to the lineup after being a healthy scratch the past 21 games. Forward Keegan Kolesar also returned after missing six games with an upper-body injury. In net, Brossoit made his first start since Feb. 25. … Edmonton was without the services of Ryan Murray (back) and Ryan McLeod (upper body). … The Golden Knights and Oilers both boast 11 skaters with 10-plus goals — tied for second in the NHL in that category. … Oilers defender Cody Ceci played in his 700th career NHL game.
The Knights are off until Tuesday, when they will play the Oilers in a rematch in Vegas.
The Oilers make a quick trip to Arizona to face the Coyotes on Monday before playing the Knights on Tuesday in the final regular-season matchup between the two teams.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 25, 2023.
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