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Tuesday, August 22, 2017

{allcanada} Rays survive late push from Blue Jays in win

 

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — Lucas Duda and Corey Dickerson homered in the first two innings and Chris Archer struck out 10 for the Tampa Bay Rays in a 6-5 victory over the Toronto Blue Jays on Tuesday night.

Alex Colome got his major league-leading 37th save after giving up hits to Kendrys Morales and Steve Pearce that left the potential game-tying run on third base in the ninth. The Blue Jays have lost four straight.

Duda's 23rd home run (sixth with Tampa Bay) came off rookie Chris Rowley in the first inning after Norichika Aoki had led off the game with a homer off Archer.

Dickerson hit his 23rd homer in the second, starting a three-run inning off Rowley that put the Rays ahead 4-1.

Aoki drove in another run with a sacrifice fly in the fifth after a double by Ezequiel Carrera and an RBI single by Ryan Goins.

Carrera had entered the game in the third inning after the ejection of Blue Jays centre fielder Kevin Pillar by home plate umpire Chad Fairchild.

Josh Donaldson's 21st home run came off Rays reliever Tommy Hunter in the eighth. It was Donaldson's 11th homer in 20 games.

Miguel Montero made it 6-5 with a sacrifice fly in the ninth.

Archer gave up three runs (one earned) an four hits while striking out 10 in six innings.

Rowley gave up four runs and five hits in 3 1/3 innings in his third major league start for the Blue Jays.

Archer (9-7) and Rowley (1-1) faced each other for the second time in five days. Neither got a decision in the Blue Jays' 5-3 win on Thursday.

NO SINGLES OR DOUBLES

After his first three major league starts, left-handers are hitting only .185 against the right-handed Rowley. However, the five hits include three triples and two home runs.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Blue Jays: C Russell Martin (left oblique) missed his 10th game and is not close to returning, according to manager John Gibbons.

Rays: Of the RHPs on the disabled list, Alex Cobb (turf toe) will start Thursday's game; Jake Faria (abdominal strain) will resume throwing on Thursday; Matt Andriese (hip stress reaction) will make a rehab start Wednesday for Triple-A Durham.

UP NEXT

RHP Marcus Stroman (11-6) will try to end Toronto's four-game losing streak Wednesday night against RHP Auston Pruitt (6-4).

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{allcanada} Radwanska downs Genie Bouchard in second round at Connecticut Open

 

NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Canada's Eugenie Bouchard was eliminated from the Connecticut Open on Tuesday night, falling in straight sets to top seed Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland in the second round.

Radwanska, the World No. 10, downed the 23-year-old from Westmount, Que., 6-3, 7-5 in one hour 45 minutes.

Radwanka converted on 5 of 12 break points while Bouchard was 2 for 6.

Bouchard, ranked 74th in the world, fought back in the second set after being broken to go down 5-3. She broke Radwanska right back and held serve to tie the game 5-all.

Radwanska held serve in the next game, then broke Bouchard for the victory. Bouchard fought off two match points but was broken while serving to force a tiebreak.

Bouchard is winless in four matches against Radwanska in her career.

Also advancing were Australia's Daria Gavrilova, who needed 2 hours, 12 minutes to defeat Timea Babos of Hungary 7-5, 7-6 (6), and Elise Mertens of Belgium, a straight-sets winner over Russia's Daria Kasatkina.

The Connecticut Open is the final WTA Premier tournament before the U.S. Open, which begins next Monday.

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{allcanada} Montero plays former team as Whitecaps host Sounders

 

VANCOUVER — Fredy Montero didn't celebrate his two-goal performance — at least on the field — the last time he suited up against the Seattle Sounders.

The Whitecaps striker doesn't plan on changing a thing when Vancouver hosts his former club for a second time this season on Wednesday night.

Montero, who scored 47 times in 119 regular-season appearances for Seattle from 2009 to 2012, bagged two goals against the Sounders in Vancouver's 2-1 victory back in April. But while his teammates mobbed him after each goal in the derby game against a bitter rival, the Colombian kept his emotions in check.

"It's displaying loyalty," Montero explained Tuesday after training. "It's the way soccer players show respect.

"With the opportunity (Seattle) gave me to play there, I want to show respect."

On loan to Vancouver from his club in China this season, the designated player has scored 10 times in Major League Soccer in 2017, including a coolly taken penalty in Saturday's 2-1 home victory over the Houston Dynamo.

And while the soft-spoken Montero doesn't show his cards very often, Whitecaps head coach Carl Robinson said it's clear his star forward is amped up by another visit from the Sounders.

"He's not stopped smiling the last few days," said the Welshman. "You need your top players to perform in the big games. It's certainly a big game."

Montero and Yordy Reyna — an off-season addition who missed the first half of the year with a broken foot — have already developed good chemistry at the top of Vancouver's formation in limited time together. An attacking midfielder Robinson has described as a "rash" because he's all over the field, Reyna is helping to both drive the play and support Montero.

"Yordy's making a huge impact in the team because he's a player that is always asking for the ball," said Montero, who also set up Reyna's stunning goal from 20 yards out against Houston. "There is always a connection between him and me.

"We need to make sure he has the ball as many times as we can."

Vancouver (10-9-4) currently occupies the sixth and final playoff spot in the crowded Western Conference with 34 points, one better than the San Jose Earthquakes. The Whitecaps also have at least two games in hand on four of the five teams above them in the table, including Seattle (11-7-7), which sits tied for first with Sporting Kansas City on 40 points.

"We have a huge opportunity in front of us," said Vancouver defender Jordan Harvey. "There's a lot of parity."

Vancouver started a run of six out of seven games at home with Saturday's victory over the Dynamo, who entered that match in a four-way deadlock for first in the West with Seattle, Kansas City and the Portland Timbers.

Both the Whitecaps and Sounders are in the middle of a stretch of three games in eight days, with Vancouver set to visit Orlando City SC on Saturday, and Seattle welcoming the Portland Timbers on Sunday prior to the start of the international break from Aug. 28 to Sept. 5.

Robinson said he's gone back and forth a few times since the Houston match on his lineup for Wednesday, but it looked and sounded like he will probably only make a couple changes before shuffling the deck this weekend.

Seattle comes to Vancouver red-hot, having gone 9-2-3 over the last 14 games after winning just two of its first 11 outings (2-5-4) — somewhat mirroring the tough start to 2016 that eventually ended with the franchise winning its first MLS Cup.

Unbeaten in nine straight (6-0-3) dating back to the middle of June, the Sounders have won three in a row and six of seven, including Sunday's 2-1 home victory over Minnesota United, a result that saw Seattle concede a goal for the first time in four matches.

"They've caught fire at the right time," said Robinson. "It's going to be a great test for us."

Notes: Seattle is 2-0-2 on the road over its last four games after starting the season with a 1-6-2 mark. ... The Whitecaps visit the Sounders on Sept. 27 in their third and final regular-season meeting. ... Portland currently leads the standings for the Cascadia Cup with seven points from four matches. The regional tournament, created by supporters of the Timbers, Sounders and Whitecaps, counts results of the nine MLS games played between the clubs. Seattle has four points from three games, while Vancouver has three points from three games.

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{allcanada} After win in Chicago, TFC looks to avoid letdown

 

Toronto FC captain Michael Bradley is calling a midweek game against a middling Major League Soccer opponent the "biggest of the year" for his league-leading club.

Sure, a Wednesday home match against the struggling Philadelphia Union might not have the same sizzle as Toronto's big 3-1 road win over Eastern Conference rival Chicago over the weekend. But Bradley recognizes the importance of avoiding a letdown after a statement victory, especially when facing a team desperate for points.

"We're not looking past anything," Bradley told reporters Tuesday after training. "Tomorrow is the biggest game we've played all year, in terms of following up a big win with an even bigger one.

"You're getting to the time of year where teams who are hovering around the playoff line, or just below it, they're dangerous."

Philadelphia enters Wednesday's game at BMO Field six points behind sixth-place Montreal for the final playoff spot in the East with one more game played than the Impact. The Union nearly posted a win at San Jose last Saturday, but had to settle for a 2-2 draw after the Earthquakes scored on a penalty in stoppage time.

"We'll need to expect a big response," Bradley said. "Regardless of form, regardless of what has gone on, they find a way to compete at a high level."

Toronto hasn't lost since a 3-1 setback in Dallas on July 1.

The team's seven-game unbeaten run includes a 4-0 thrashing of second-place New York City FC and the recent road win over third-place Chicago. But the streak also includes disappointing draws against Colorado and Washington, two of the weakest teams in MLS.

Toronto head coach Greg Vanney said the players can't let up as they chase their first ever Supporters' Shield, given to the top MLS team in the regular season.

"It's important for us that this is a vital match for us in terms of maintaining our Supporters' Shield position, trying to stay unbeaten at home and a lot of the other factors that are kind of swirling around," Vanney told reporters after training.

"It's important that we come with the right intensity and attitude for this match."

Vanney said defender Steven Beitashour is progressing but still working on match fitness. Beitashour returned to action as a substitute against Chicago after recovering from a lacerated pancreas he suffered in June.

"He's good," Vanney said. "I don't know if he's full 90 (minutes), we'll have to see when we get him to that point, but he's definitely progressing. It's all about match fitness for him now."

Notes: Toronto has a 9-0-3 home record. ... The Reds are the only MLS team with a winning road record (5-3-5).

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{allcanada} Free agent Roman Polak resumes skating wearing Maple Leafs sweater

 

Free agent defenceman Roman Polak appears to be progressing nicely from the gruesome leg injury he suffered in the first round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs while with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Polak's agent Allan Walsh tweeted a short video Tuesday of Polak skating and making tight turns during an on-ice session last week. As part of the tweet, Walsh mentioned his client's recovery is on schedule.

Polak was injured when he fell awkwardly on his right leg after receiving a hit from Washington Capitals blueliner Brooks Orpik in Game 2. He had season-ending surgery thereafter.

Polak, 31, had four goals and 11 points in 75 games with the Leafs. He's played most of the past three seasons in Toronto.

Although he became an unrestricted free agent July 1, that didn't stop him from wearing a Leafs sweater for the skate last week.

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{allcanada} Canada inquires about Shane Doan, Jarome Iginla for Olympics

 

TORONTO — Could the next Canadian Olympic men's hockey team have some star power after all?

Team general manager Sean Burke said Tuesday that he's inquired about the plans and potential availability of long-time NHLers and current free agents Shane Doan and Jarome Iginla.

Burke, who's building the first Canadian Olympic roster without NHL players since 1994, suggested that both former Olympians would have to be playing somewhere if they were to be considered. He reached out to their representatives on Tuesday morning.

"We want to look at all possibilities, but there has to be a long-term plan because it's going to very intense (at the Olympics) and it's going to be great hockey and guys are going to have to have a plan for the year," Burke said on a conference call, which also included the team's head coach Willie Desjardins.

Whether or not the two veterans would be interested is another question.

"We really are not dealing with this issue as of now," Don Meehan, Iginla's agent, said in an email to The Canadian Press.

Canada just completed two tournaments in Russia with 45 players vying for spots on the Olympic squad in Pyongchang. That group included former NHLers like Derek Roy, Mason Raymond, Max Talbot and Gilbert Brule.

Goaltending was split between former Edmonton Oiler and Toronto Maple Leaf Ben Scrivens, Justin Peters, who played three games for the Arizona Coyotes last year, and Kevin Poulin, who's totalled 50 games with the New York Islanders.

Doan recently completed his 21st season with the Coyotes, who announced earlier this off-season that their long-time captain would not be re-signed. The soon-to-be 41-year-old represented Canada at the 2006 Olympics in Italy.

Iginla, who had 14 goals and 27 points playing for the Avalanche and Kings last season, has played for three Canadian Olympic teams, including gold medal-winning groups in 2002 and 2010.

Their involvement in the 2018 Games would preclude a return to the NHL for the coming season. The league decided against allowing its players to participate following five consecutive appearances, beginning in 1998.

"We just played games in August and the pace of these games and the intensity was very good and that's going to increase as we move along so anybody that's going to play on this team, no matter what their pedigree or what they've done in the past, we're going to consider," Burke said.

The Canadian GM, who played for Canada at the 1988 and 1992 Olympics, said he hoped to have the bones of a roster put into place by November when Canada takes part in the Karjala Cup in Finland.

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{allcanada} Flames could have interest in Jagr: report

 

Forward Jaromir Jagr could be drawing interest from the Calgary Flames, who are coached by one of his former coaches, Glen Gulutzan.

Reporter Elliott Friedman told NHL Network on Monday that Calgary has "kind of looked at" signing Jagr, a 45-year-old unrestricted free agent.

Gulutzan coached Jagr for 34 games with the Dallas Stars during the 2012-13 season, when Jagr had 26 points (14 goals, 12 assists) for them.

"When I had him ... first of all he's not as fast as he used to be, but below the tops of the circles he is still stronger on the puck than most guys in the League," Gulutzan said during last season, his second as coach of the Flames. "... But probably the most impressive thing with [Jaromir], for me, of all those physical skills, obviously the size (6-foot-3, 230 pounds) and the strength and the hands, is his hockey IQ is off the charts. ...

"We clipped some clips, I remember back in Dallas, that we sat and watched as a coaching staff going, 'Oh my God, how did he even do that?' ... He can score, he can pass, he can do it all ... I think that's what's allowed him to play. And he has a real passion for the game."

Friedman said Jagr could start the NHL season playing overseas, perhaps in the Czech league, before returning.

Jagr had 46 points (16 goals, 30 assists) in 82 games for the Florida Panthers last season, and became the second-leading scorer in NHL history behind Wayne Gretzky (2,857-1,914).

Jagr likely would fit on the Flames' third or fourth line and play on their power play.

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{allcanada} Marleau will be huge hit for Maple Leafs, former teammates say

https://pbs.twimg.com/media/DFx-MnuU0AEXr8w.jpg

TORONTO -- When Patrick Marleau decided to leave the San Jose Sharks after 19 seasons to sign with the Toronto Maple Leafs on July 2, it caught many people unaware, including former teammates.

"Definitely pretty surprised," Sharks forward Joel Ward said at BioSteel Camp on Tuesday. "I was hoping he would stay, for sure. He was a big help for us, on and off the ice. It's definitely going to be a big blow for us."

Marleau, who turns 38 on Sept. 15, signed a three-year, $18.75 million contract (average annual value $6.25 million) with the Maple Leafs as an unrestricted free agent after having spent his entire NHL career with the Sharks.

Florida Panthers defenseman Jason Demers, who was Marleau's teammate from 2009-14, said he was nearly speechless when he found out the veteran forward was leaving San Jose.

"That was crazy," Demers said. "For him to make that decision, I know him well personally and I know that was probably the biggest decision of his career. I don't think anybody understands on the outside how big of a decision that was for him. … In my head, after talking to him a little bit, I thought he was going to stay, but I think him and his family discussed it and I think it's going to be a great thing for him."

On July 27, Marleau's wife, Christina, tweeted a picture of Patrick and their four sons, aged 2-10, in Maple Leafs jerseys.

Maple Leafs general manager Lou Lamoriello and coach Mike Babcock each has mentioned Marleau's exceptional speed as a primary reason they feel he will be a valuable addition to a lineup filled with fast players.

"Playing alongside those guys in Toronto, they're going to be real fast," Demers said. "It's going to be fun seeing him more than twice a year (now that he's in the Eastern Conference), but it's going to [stink] because now I've got to try to defend him more than twice a year."

Ward, who was Marleau's teammate the past two seasons, said he has yet to see Marleau lose a step, despite having played 1,493 NHL games.

"Yeah, he is (that fast)," Ward said. "I've seen it firsthand, so for the fans in Toronto, you can expect a guy who can really move but even a better guy off the ice. His work ethic is tremendous. In the gym, he is one of the strongest, and on the ice, he is one of the fastest guys leading the drills."

Marleau had 46 points (27 goals, 19 assists) in 82 games last season.

Early in his NHL career, Demers said Marleau often would give him advice.

"We just had a great group of veterans who'd take me aside when things were going bad," Demers said. "The coaches never had to say anything because guys like Marleau was the first one to give me praise or to tell me to pick it up and get moving. When a guy who is a future Hall of Famer is telling you that, it holds a little more weight than if a coach is saying it to you. It was just great playing with him."

Demers expects Marleau to have a similar impact in Toronto, where he will support its young core, including centers Auston Matthews, who turns 20 on Sept. 17, Mitchell Marner, 20, and William Nylander, 21.

"He's a great teammate. He's always happy when he comes into the room and a really great mentor to young guys," Demers said. "He took me under his wing. They're going to be happy with him."

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{allcanada} McDavid says of best player, 'It's not me'

 

Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid may be the reigning NHL MVP and scoring champ, and have a contract that would make him the highest-paid player, but he said Tuesday don't call him the best player in the League.

"At the end of the day, everyone knows who the best player in the League is, and it's not me," McDavid told TSN at BioSteel Camp in Toronto.

The Hockey News ranked McDavid as the No. 1 player in the NHL in its annual preseason yearbook, with Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby ranked second.

McDavid didn't say where he should be ranked, but intimated that Crosby should be at the top.

"I don't agree with it, so for me it doesn't really mean too much," McDavid said. "I guess it's a nice honor … [but] I still [have] a lot to work towards."

McDavid had 30 goals and 70 assists to lead the NHL with 100 points; Crosby scored 44 goals and 89 points to tie for second with Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks before winning the Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe Trophy for a second straight season.

"[Sidney] finds a way to score different goals, score goals in tight, score goals in front on tips, quick shots, and that's something I kind of struggle with, so I mean I definitely would love to find a way to score more, and he knows how to do that better than anyone," McDavid said.

McDavid signed an eight-year, $100 million contract extension on July 5 that beings next season, and its $12.5 million average annual value would be the highest in the NHL.

The 20-year-old helped the Oilers reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2006, one of five Canada-based teams to do so one season after none did.

"It's good to see Canadian teams doing well, but ultimately it doesn't matter as long as the Oilers are doing well," McDavid said. "I don't care how any other Canadian team does, other than the Edmonton Oilers. The [Toronto Maple] Leafs can come in last place; it doesn't matter to me. All that matters is what the Oilers are doing."

One of those playoff teams were the Pacific Division rival Calgary Flames, who added goalie Mike Smith and defenseman Travis Hamonic this offseason.

"They made a lot of good moves and picked up some good players, [but] sometimes that doesn't always work," McDavid said. "It's not always the best roster that wins, it's the best team, and sometimes that maybe doesn't jell all that well. It's hard to argue with what they did, and I'm sure they'll be a good team this year, and we'll be looking forward to playing them."

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{allcanada} Jolie, Bardem and Mirren to give Toronto Film Festival talks

 

Javier Bardem, Gael García Bernal, Angelina Jolie and Helen Mirren will headline a series of public conversations about their careers as part of this year's Toronto Film Festival.

Many of these actors and filmmakers aren't just trekking to Canada to take a jaunt down memory lane. They're also on hand to launch new films. Bardem stars in "mother!," Darren Aronofsky's upcoming horror film, and "Loving Pablo," both of which will debut at the festival. Jolie is bringing "First They Killed My Father," a drama about the Cambodian genocide that she made for Netflix, to the gathering. Mirren is appearing opposite Donald Sutherland in "The Leisure Seeker," another festival entry. And Bernal will be seen in "If You Saw His Heart," which will screen at the event.

In addition, the festival also unveiled its 2017 Discovery program lineup. It boasts 45 first and second feature films by up-and-coming filmmakers from around the world. The festival's backers say it's the biggest line-up yet, with 25% more titles than the 2016 roster.

In a press release touting the additions, the festival's brass said the films deal with a wide-range of social issues such as the push for LGBTQ equality and rural economic struggles.

"If you don't support the future of filmmaking, you fall behind. So we're always looking for new talent," said Cameron Bailey, the festival's artistic director, in a statement. "The fact that the Discovery program continues to grow is deeply encouraging, and speaks to the fact that there are a lot of people that want to make films when it is often increasingly more difficult to do so."

These films join a list of Oscar hopefuls that include Alexander Payne's "Downsizing," Joe Wright's "Darkest Hour," and George Clooney's "Suburbicon," all of which will be screening at Toronto. The 42nd Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 7 to 17, 2017.

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{allcanada} Impact MF Piatti named player of the week

 

NEW YORK — Montreal midfielder Ignacio Piatti was named Major League Soccer player of the week on Tuesday after leading the Impact to a pair of victories.

Piatti scored two goals in Montreal's 3-0 win over the Chicago Fire and added another brace in a 3-1 over Real Salt Lake.

The Argentine has 14 goals and four assists this season.

Montreal (10-8-6) has won four games in a row and is sixth in the Eastern Conference standings with 36 points.

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{allcanada} Raptors sign F McDaniels to deal

 
TORONTO — The Toronto Raptors have signed forward KJ McDaniels to a one-year deal.

The six-foot-six, 205-pound native of Birmingham, Ala., split last season between Houston and Brooklyn, averaging 4.2 points, 1.7 rebounds and 10.3 minutes in 49 games.

McDaniels is averaging of 5.3 points, 2.2 rebounds and 14.1 minutes in 148 career games with Philadelphia, Houston and Brooklyn. He was picked 32nd overall by the Sixers in the 2014 NBA draft.

McDaniels played three collegiate seasons at Clemson (2011-14) and was voted ACC Defensive Player of the Year in his final season.

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{allcanada} Harris, Nichols, Green named top performers

 

TORONTO — Running back Andrew Harris and quarterback Matt Nichols of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers were named CFL top performers of the week Tuesday along with Toronto Argonauts receiver SJ Green.

Harris had 105 rushing yards and 120 receiving yards in a 33-26 win over the Edmonton Eskimos. Nichols passed for a season-high 390 yards and rushed for 23 yards and a touchdown.

Green, meanwhile, had 145 receiving yards and two touchdown catches in Toronto's 38-6 victory over the Montreal Alouettes.

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{allcanada} Eskimos lose three more players to season-ending injuries

 

EDMONTON — The injuries keep piling up for the Edmonton Eskimos.

The CFL team announced Tuesday that offensive lineman Jean-Simon Roy and long-snapper Ryan King have both sustained a torn right anterior cruciate ligament, and defensive end Marcus Howard has suffered a ruptured left Achilles.

All three players will miss the remainder of the 2017 season.

The Eskimos' injured list is over 20 players deep and includes the likes of running backs John White and Travon Van, receiver Adarius Bowman, linebacker J.C. Sherritt and kicker Sean Whyte.

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{allcanada} Canada’s Shapovalov, Auger-Aliassime win first U.S. Open qualifiers

 

NEW YORK – Canadians Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime won their first-round qualifying matches Tuesday at the US Open.

Shapovalov, from Richmond Hill, Ont., posted a 6-3, 6-4 victory over American Denis Kudla while Felix Auger-Aliassime of Montreal defeated Japan's Hiroki Moriya 6-3, 6-3.

The 69th-ranked Shapovalov is seeded second in the qualifying draw after his breakout performance at the Rogers Cup in Montreal. He defeated Rafael Nadal and Juan Martin del Potro en route to a semifinal appearance.

Other Canadians entered in the men's qualifying draw include Frank Dancevic of Niagara Falls, Ont., Peter Polansky of Thornhill, Ont., and Toronto's Brayden Schnur. Bianca Andreescu of Mississauga, Ont., and Montreal's Francoise Abanda are entered in the women's qualifying draw.

Qualifying continues through Friday. Main draw play begins Monday at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

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{allcanada} Boeser, Gardiner enjoy special game against fans

EDINA, Minn. -- Ask 22-year-old Jessica Boeser who the better hockey player is between her and her brother, Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser, and she'll proudly tell you he is.

However, Jessica is the one who starred during a 10-minute 5-on-5 game at Braemar Ice Arena on Monday, scoring one goal and one assist, besting her little brother, who had no points.

Jessica and Brock were among the players who participated in a Unified Showcase between playoff games in Da Beauty League, where a host of NHL players with ties to Minnesota are playing games for charity through Wednesday. Twelve Minnesota Special Hockey athletes with intellectual and social disabilities teamed up with 12 NHL players to form two teams of six in a showcase game.

"It's awesome. She's been one of my biggest fans throughout my whole hockey career, so now I get to support her," said Boeser, 20, who had five points in nine games with the Canucks last season. "I love being able to see her and all of her friends playing hockey. It's a real treat for me. I'm excited I got to be a part of it."

Being an advocate for those with special needs is nothing new to Boeser. In May 2016, he attended prom with a girl with Down syndrome after she invited him on social media.

Founded in the spring of 2006, Minnesota Special Hockey is home to more than 180 players and 10 teams, comprised of all ages, spanning across the state. The season opens the first week of November and runs until the first week of March, with tournaments and festivals in between hour-long games and practices.

"Anybody in Minnesota that wants to play hockey can play hockey," Minnesota Special Hockey President Jane Cashin said. "There is such a high level of hockey here in Minnesota, that if for some reason a kid can't play typical hockey, we want to be there for them so they can play the game that really is our game in Minnesota."

Cashin's son, 23-year-old Sam, was another one of the Minnesota Special Hockey players on the ice Monday. He began playing hockey at the age of 2, but persistent seizures made playing on an organized team difficult. With Minnesota Special Hockey he didn't have to give up the game he was growing to love, and has elevated his hockey skills year after year, making new friends along the way.

"It's just about having fun with my friends out there and just playing as a team and playing games," Sam said.

There was some extra friendly competition and bragging rights on the line for Sam on Monday. He was playing against his brother-in-law, Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner.

"I'm going to try and score a goal against him," Sam said of Gardiner, who is married to Sam's sister, Lucy.

He succeeded - twice.

"Yeah, he's one up on me there. He's definitely pretty good," Gardiner said after the game. "[Sam's] been talking about this game for the past few days, so I know how excited he was to get out there and play.

"For us it's a good reminder of how lucky we are to play hockey, and how special it is for these guys to just get out and play, too. With showcases like this, they get to hear their names announced when they score and you see their celebrations and how pumped they are. It gets us NHL guys really pumped, too.

"It's like their Stanley Cup, and we are all just happy to be a part of it."

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{allcanada} Price expects 'very energetic' Canadiens training camp

 

SUMMERLAND, British Columbia -- Carey Price is finding it much easier to enjoy the offseason this year than he did in 2016.

From watching his daughter, Liv, take her first steps to not having to worry as much about his own first strides back on the ice, the Montreal Canadiens goaltender said he's more comfortable than he was last summer, when he was trying to come back from a serious knee injury and get ready for the World Cup of Hockey 2016 at the same time.

"It felt like there was a lot less anxiety around it," said Price, who signed an eight-year, $84 million contract extension July 2 and turned 30 last Wednesday. "I knew going into last year we were going from zero to 60 right away, going straight into a high-profile, world's-best tournament right off the get-go, so coming off an injury season was a little bit nerve-wracking."

Price said there was never any doubt he would be ready for the World Cup and the NHL season that followed, even though he hadn't played since spraining the MCL in his right knee during a game against the New York Rangers on Nov. 25, 2015. But he admitted it has been nice not having that hanging over his head at all this offseason.

Carey Price Eli Wilson Goaltending 2

"Not having that looming over the start allows you to, I wouldn't say relax, but be a little more comfortable going into the year," he said.

Price certainly looked relaxed and comfortable on the ice Sunday with the 18 goalies -- 17 boys and one girl -- who bid for the chance to spend a day training with him, his father, Jerry Price, and goaltending coach Eli Wilson in the British Columbia interior. After sitting down with the kids, who came from as far as Prince Edward Island and Colorado, for breakfast, Price led them through an off-ice warmup that included static stretching and dynamic movements, and then shared a locker room as they all got geared up and ready for the first of two on-ice sessions.

Price demonstrated the drills with Wilson, who was Ottawa Senators goaltending coach from 2007-2010, moving with the same power and effortless efficiency that helped him win the Hart and Vezina trophies in 2014-15, and be a finalist for the Vezina last season. Price then helped coach the kids through each drill, sometimes weighing in 1-on-1 with technical advice, other times with a quick pep talk and words of encouragement.

Between the two on-ice sessions, Price sat down with NHL.com to reflect on the offseason changes in Montreal, including the departure of veteran defenseman Andrei Markov, who returned to Russia to play in the Kontinental Hockey League.

Carey Price Eli Wilson Goaltending 3

"It took me about six years to get a word out of Marky, but I am going to miss him," Price said with a laugh. "He's been there my entire career. I was just talking about that with my dad last night, how he's had a big influence on me in my career, he's done a lot for me. He's always been obviously on the ice a steady defenseman, but he's always pushed me off the ice and being a professional, and I have a lot to thank him for."

Price also discussed the addition of playmaking forward Jonathan Drouin in a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning on June 15 and expectations for the first training camp under coach Claude Julien since he took over Feb. 14 when Michel Therrien was fired.

"He's obviously a dynamic offensive player, and whenever you can add that into your lineup, it's refreshing," Price said of Drouin. "There is going to be a lot of new looks. Whenever you get new bodies into the lineup, it is going to be a refreshing, probably a very energetic training camp. I am sure we are going to get a few things introduced into our game and strategy going into the season, so there will probably be a little bit more teaching in this training camp."

Price said he'll approach training camp with the same mixture of emotions he usually does -- "a little excited, a little nervous" -- but paused and smiled before adding, "It's always hard to talk about the year when you are in the middle of your summer still."

Carey Price

For Price, enjoying the summer is an important part of maintaining the balance between calm and competitive that he is so often lauded for in the crease. It's why he puts his gear away early in the offseason before getting back onto the ice in early August, starting by skating without any goalie equipment before putting on his gear for informal practices and scrimmages with a seemingly endless list of NHL players who call the area home in the summer.

"That's something I have always really believed in, is for me personally to step back from the game and not look at my equipment for a couple of months and try to build that hunger up again, because at the end of the season, you get pretty worn out," Price said.

Participating in the Eli Wilson Goaltending Camp has become part of that routine the past three summers for Price, who will choose a charity to donate proceeds from the one-day experience. And even if it has become an indicator summer is winding down, Price isn't ready for it to end yet. He's got a family trip to Oregon planned for some whitewater rafting and fly-fishing before moving back to Montreal a few days before the annual golf tournament that precedes training camp.

"Being able to step away from the game and live life and watch your child grow and enjoy the fruits of your labor is important," Price said. "It was a pretty fulfilling summer, obviously with Liv being a little older and watching her take her first steps. It was really enjoyable."

And less stressful than the summer before.

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{allcanada} Michael Del Zotto excited to take on leadership role with Canucks

 

Michael Del Zotto will begin a new chapter of his NHL career when he hits the ice with the Vancouver Canucks this fall.

The 27-year-old defenceman said he's "really, really excited" to play in Vancouver—"one of my favourite cities"—during an interview on The Jeff Blair Show on Sportsnet 590 The FAN Tuesday morning.

"First time in a Canadian market for me, which I'm really excited about," said the Stouffville, Ont., native. "It doesn't matter where you are, any time you come back to Canada it's just a different feel when you play a game there. They just live and breathe hockey so I'm super excited for that."

Del Zotto has been through plenty of ups and down over the course of his career—"some off years, some really good years, a bunch of injuries"—and said he's looking forward to taking the next step in his career by taking on a leadership role in Vancouver after signing a two-year, $6-million deal with the young Canucks back on July 1.

"I think the biggest thing that I'm excited for there is embracing that leadership role," he said. "It's something I've taken on in the last year or two and you know I'm not old by any means, but I'm not 19 anymore, I'm going into my ninth season."

Del Zotto has registered a total 47 goals and 142 assists for 189 points in 484 career NHL regular season games over the course of eight NHL campaigns. He has spent the bulk of his career so far with the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers, with a short stint in Nashville separating them.

He had six goals and 12 assists in 51 games with Flyers this past season—his third in Philadelphia.

"The leadership side is something that really excites me. I love picking young guys' brains and being there for them to talk to," he said. "Anyone who gets to know me personally knows that I'm a pretty open person, I'm an open book, love to joke around, love to have fun, tease the boys in the locker room. It's very rare you see me without a smile on my face."

Del Zotto also talked about the impact of nutrition in sport, the mental side of the game, and his budding career as a DJ. Listen to the full interview here: