International

Djokovic Eager For More Matches In Barcelona 2018

Djokovic Eager For More Matches In Barcelona 2018

25/04/2018, International, Tennis, ATP World Tour, Article # 26511769


Canadians top Sweden

Canadians top Sweden

25/04/2018, International, Hockey-Ice, International Ice Hockey Federation, Article # 26511577
Alexis Lafreniere scored in overtime to give Canada a 3-2 win over Sweden and first place in Group A. Canada faces the Czechs in the quarter-finals on Thursday.

Defenceman Ryan Merkley, who totalled two assists, slid the puck from the center point to Lafreniere, who was alone in front and put home his own rebound at 2:27.

In regulation, Chase Wouters and Raphael Lavoie scored for Canada. Defenceman Adam Boqvist had both goals for Sweden, which came second in the group. The Swedes will face Slovakia in the quarter-

finals.

Canada has won four straight games, while Sweden suffered its first loss of the tournament. But no one's dwelling on that with the do-and-die games looming.

The other quarter-finals feature Russia versus the United States and Finland versus Belarus.

This gritty defensive battle featured a fine goaltending duel between Sweden's Olof Lindbom and Canada's Olivier Rodrigue. Canada outshot the Swedes 40-31.

The two teams set a fierce tempo from the outset, but Canada ran into early penalty woes, and it was Sweden that cashed in on a 4-on-4 at 10:27. Samuel Fagemo left a sneaky drop pass for Jacob

Olofsson, who found Bogvist coming late, and he whizzed the puck over Rodrigue’s glove from the left faceoff circle.

In the second period, Canada kept coming, undaunted. Just after a Canadian power play had expired, Dellandrea dropped the puck to Lavoie at the top of the left faceoff circle, and he one-timed his

team-leading fifth goal past Lindbom low to the stick side to make it 1-1 at 6:39.

Both teams mounted flurries late in the second, Canada’s coming with Swedish captain Adam Ginning in the box for tripping for the last two minutes. But no one could find the range.

On a Swedish turnover, Lavoie had a fabulous chance to put Canada up at the start of the third, but Lindbom stoned him on the doorstep with the left pad.

Canada took a 2-1 lead at 8:15 on a goal off the rush that combined finesse and determination. Crossing the blue line, Merkley accepted a pass from Lafreniere and found Wouters going to the net for

the backhanded tip.

Lindbom sparkled with a blocker save on a pinching Kevin Bahl to keep it a one-goal game with under seven minutes left in regulation.

As Sweden pushed, the Canadians blocked shots ferociously down the stretch. The Smakronorna had a golden opportunity for the equalizer with a late 4-on-3 power play and they capitalized at 18:26.

Boqvist's centre point shot caught a stick and knocked Rodrigue's water bottle off as the Swedes celebrated the 2-2 marker.

Rodrigue stoned Boqvist in the first minute of overtime. Seconds later, Sweden's Jonatan Berggren was called for tripping, and Canada secured victory with the man advantage.

This has been a remarkably even U18 rivalry over the years. Canada’s victory gives it an all-time edge of eight wins to seven. The Swedes eliminated Canada from gold-medal contention in the 2016

semi-finals and the 2017 quarter-finals. However, Canada has three U18 gold medals all-time to none for Sweden.

Now it's showtime as these young men truly begin to forge their reputations on the international stage.

LUCAS AYKROYD

http://u18worlds2018.iihf.hockey/en/news/swe-can/
Russia, Slovakia put on a show

Russia, Slovakia put on a show

25/04/2018, International, Hockey-Ice, International Ice Hockey Federation, Article # 26511578
Pavel Dorofeyev scored the game-winning shootout goal to ensure Russia an emotional 6-5 win. To get there, the hosts had to come back from three goals down.

Maxim Cajkovic, Marcel Lugos , Martin Bucko, Daniel Tkac and Michal Mrazik all scored once for Slovakia. Kirill Marchenko, Danil Misyul, Alexander Romanov, Vasili Podkolzin and Ruslan Iskhakov had

a goal each for Russia, as both teams spread the scoring around.

Despite heavily hinting that he would let goalie Amir Miftakhov rest in the last preliminary game, and indeed not dressing him for the previous night’s practice, head coach Alexander Zybin decided

to stick with his starter. It was a decision he would come to second-guess quickly. For Slovakia, Samuel Vyletelka had a big night between the pipes with 40 stops, several of them of highlight

variety.

As the “trophy” to the victor of this contest would be a date with Americans, the winners of seven of the last eight U18 Worlds, and the loser’s consolation prize slated to be either Canada or

Sweden, it might have seem like a “pick your poison” scenario in terms of the preferable result. Except, of course, for Russia, losing is never really an acceptable outcome and losing at home is

never really an option to be contemplated.

Sure enough, the home team threw all it had at the Slovaks from the opening faceoff, effectively spending the first dozen or so shifts entirely in the opposing zone. Russians led 10-1 in shots on

goal through the first 10 minutes, with our very unofficial Corsi score standing at, rounded to the nearest hundredth, approximately Everything to Very Little.

One had the right to wonder whether Chelyabinsk would ever get to hear Nech Boze Da, Slovakia’s amazingly cool goal song, ever again. Never worry, the Slavic masterpiece, a soulful yet upbeat plea

to persevere against the pain and the odds, was duly blasted through the Traktor Ice Arena loudspeakers not once or even twice, but three times in the space of one minute and 55 seconds.

It was Russia itself that ended the period of Russian dominance, with two straight tripping penalties, giving the Slovaks 52 seconds of five-on-three advantage. They only used 20 of them, as

Cajkovic padded his credentials as the tourney’s top scorer with a blast from the left circle that flew past Miftakhov’s glove into the far corner.

And so it was “Nech boze da, nech boze da, ved’ my na to mame”, meaning “God willing, God willing, as we are worthy of this”, sounding in Chelyabinsk with 13:27 gone. A minute and 23 seconds later,

with the Slovaks still on the power play, Michal Mrazek semi-whiffed on the puck from point-blank range, but, as Miftakhov kicked it away, Lugos crashed the crease to shovel it past the line for a

2-0 lead

And so it was “Nech boze da, nech boze da, ten vit’azny gol” (“God willing, God willing, score the winning goal”) all over again for Chelyabinsk. It didn’t turn out to be one, but did it ever

contribute to the excitement.

To cap it all off, only 22 ticks later, Kucko’s slap shot from the blue line found its way between Miftakhov’s pads. This was a goal the Russian goalie wished he could have had back. He wouldn’t,

though, as the coach finally admitted his error, and Danil Isayev got his first action of the game. Miftakhov wound up allowing three goals on nine shots.

And, oh, yeah, there it was again: “Nech boze da, nech boze da, ved’ dobre to hramy” (“God willing, God willing, for we are playing well”), which was absolutely true, by the way.

While the Russians took a time-out, the venue producer responded with the soldier-themed “Kombat-batyana” (“Daddy Captain”) for the stunned crowd’s benefit. It was indeed the time for Russia’s

leaders to assert their will on their reeling crew.

Having calmed their nerves a bit, the Russians immediately got a goal back, at 17:00. A blue-line wrister by Nikita Okhotyuk was tipped by Marchenko, sending the puck bar-down on the left-handed

Vyletelka’s stick side.

The second period was thoroughly dominated by the Russians. In the fourth minute, Vyletelka was forced to make a legendary save, lunging with his right skate to stop Semyon Kizimov after the latter

threw a masterful deke on the goalie. A minute and a half later, that same right skate was at the end of Vyletelka’s splits again, as it denied Alexander Zhabreyev’s wrap-around attempt.

As it sometimes happens in hockey, missed opportunities on one end led to a goal on the other. The Slovaks flew away on a quick three-on-one, and Tkac connected on Adam Pauliny’s pass. For those of

you keeping the score at home, it was “Aby viac na nás nik nezabudol” (“So that nobody forgets us”) for the fourth time.

But Russia was unrelenting. Later in the period, they engineered their own three-goals-in-under-two-minutes explosion, taking all of 119 seconds to tie the game. First, Misyul pounced on a rebound

off the backboard at 32:01. Then, on an odd-man rush, Kizimov set up Romanov with a backhanded pass at 33:32. And at 34:00, Vyletelka finally broke down and allowed a soft goal as Podkolzin’s shot

found a gap between his pads.

So, yes, it was the time for repeat performances of the famed romance By the Long Road, the equally pleasant Russian goal song. The Slovaks, meanwhile, slipped into the panic mode and barely

survived until the siren, taking a still-acceptable 4-4 tie into the dressing room, considering the Russians’ 16-5 shot advantage in the period.

However Slovaks must have felt, they were not scared. Also, according to their song, not drunk with pride (“pychou nie sme nikdy opit”), either. The underdogs came out swinging early in the third,

forcing Russia into mental errors often associated with this team’s having to play defense. With Yegor Spiridonov off for tripping, Mrazik slammed one past Isayev from the left circle at 47:50.

In case you are interested, there are also words in the Slovak song about “having them on their knees”, but the Chelyabinsk loudspeakers rarely get to this point. Good thing, too, because on its

knees is not how Russians roll. Soon enough, they once again had Slovakia on its heels, and, at 52:36, Iskhakov got a pass from Spiridonov to blast it home through traffic and even the score again.

At this point, the sellout crowd forgot musical entertainment and simply broke into the time-tested “Shay-bu, shay-bu” to spur the home lads on.

This was going to be a heart-stopping ending one way or another, and 60 minutes would not be enough to settle it. The five-minute sudden-death overtime, with each team down to three players, had

Slovakia as the more active team, as Isayev foiled Cajkovic on a point-blank shot with a minute left. But this was destined to be decided in the “skills competition.”

Marchenko shot first for Russia and hit the goalpost. Cajkovic took his turn but sent it right into Isayev’s pads. In the second round, Dmitri Zavgorodni tried a deke, but the goalie sprawled to

deny him with a pad save. Oliver Okuliar was equally unsuccessful trying a delay move on Isayev. In the third go-round, Iskhakov tried a shot and missed wide left. Then, Slovakia’s Niclolas Ferenyi

couldn’t beat the goalie on the backhand. Kizimov shot next and sent it through the five-hole to give Russia a cushion. After Kristian Kovacik couldn’t solve Isayev with a low shot, Dorofeyev put

Vyletelka down with a great move and shot over the glove to win second place for Russia.

The hosts will be facing USA in the quarterfinals on Thursday. Slovakia’s next opponent is Sweden.

SLAVA MALAMUD

http://u18worlds2018.iihf.hockey/en/news/rus-svk/
Los Pumas 7s se preparan en Singapur

Los Pumas 7s se preparan en Singapur

25/04/2018, International, Rugby, Castrol Edge Rugby Championship, Article # 26511430


Reactions, Speed and Agility Tests | U21 Goalkeeper Training | Inside Training

Reactions, Speed and Agility Tests | U21 Goalkeeper Training | Inside Training

25/04/2018, International, Rugby, Engage Sports Media, Article # 26511392


Kazakh domination

Kazakh domination

25/04/2018, International, Hockey-Ice, International Ice Hockey Federation, Article # 26511380
There was some upset alarm in the air again when Great Britain started with a lead but eventually Kazakhstan found back and won 6-1.

The victory puts Kazakhstan at the top of the standings as the lone team with the maximum of six points from two games. Italy, Poland, Great Britain and Hungary have three points apiece with a 1-1 record while top-seeded Slovenia is at the bottom end with zero points.

The British were the first to have scoring opportunities and it just took them two-and-a-half minutes to open the scoring. It was a hard shot from the left side that went past Henrik Karlsson, who had a shutout in his debut with Kazakhstan two nights before against Hungary. Luke Ferrara was the British player who defeated him first. And it was also the first goal for the 24-year-old from the Coventry Blaze in his first IIHF tournament for the men’s team.

However, that was it. The longer the game went, the better Kazakhstan played and the better they converted their scoring opportunities.

Already in the opening frame the Kazakhs reacted to the early wake-up. Their second power play with some tic-tac-toe passing eventually led to a tied game late in the opening frame. Nikita Mikhailis brought the puck to the crease with a diagonal pass to Yaroslav Yevdokimov, who found Dmitri Grents on the left side to make it 1-1.

The second period was open for a long time until the puck went into the British net. Artemi Lakiza sent off a shot from the blueline through traffic and with screening work from Ivan Kuchin right in front of British netminder Ben Bowns that was deflected high by Anton Sagadeyev. The officials had a look on the video to make sure everything was according to the rules and eventually gave green light for the goal that was credited to Sagadeyev. And that wasn’t it. Two minutes later Roman Starchenko got the puck at the right face-off circle from Ivan Kuchin and netted it for the two-goal lead.

It was a deserved two-goal lead as the Kazakhs lifted the game during the second period and were close to another marker with a post shot late in the period in which they outshot the British 14-6.

The third period didn’t start well for the British either but there was more reason to cheer for the Kazakh fans at the arena. After Yevgeni Rymarov’s drop pass from the end boards to Roman Starchenko the latter scored his second goal of the day at 1:58. Four minutes later the puck was in the British net again. Lakiza sent the puck to the net where Mikhailis tipped it in. Then it was Alikhan Assetov’s turn who entered the British zone and beat goaltender Jackson Whistle, who had replaced Bowns just 49 seconds earlier, with a long shot.

MARTIN MERK

http://wmia2018.iihf.hockey/en/news/kaz-gbr/
Rugby revolution taking place in Buenos Aires

Rugby revolution taking place in Buenos Aires

25/04/2018, International, Rugby, Engage Sports Media, Article # 26511185


Suomi stays perfect

Suomi stays perfect

25/04/2018, International, Hockey-Ice, International Ice Hockey Federation, Article # 26510939
Having kept its 2018 IIHF U18 World Championship record spotless with a 4-2 defeat of Czech Republic, Finland advances to play Belarus in the quarterfinals.

Niklas Nordgren slammed in two goals for the impressive Finnish squad, while Rasmus Kupari and Jesperi Kotkaniemi scored once each. Kaapo Kakko added three assists for the defending silver medalists who looked very strong in their bid to make it to the fourth straight U18 final.

Jakub Lauko and Vojtech Strondala had the Czechs’ two goals.

It was very important for us to ge a positive result from this game, said Finalnd's head coach Tomi Niemela. "We felt that we just had to keep on going on this positive road that we have started here."

With Finland already assured first place in Group B, and Czech Republic unable to move higher or lower than fourth, neither team had, strictly speaking, a lot to play for, as far as their tournament fortunes were concerned. Still, it’s not like the scouts attend the U18 Worlds just to look at which team finishes where. There is always plenty of incentive to be found in any game of this tournament.

The Czechs certainly seemed eager to showcase themselves early on, or at least Matej Pekar was. The soon-to-be Nebraska-Omaha Maverick was a part of two fast counter-attacking odd-man rushes in the first period, one ending with a beautiful spin-o-rama/backhand pass move (his teammate shot it high), the other with his receiving a pass and wristing the puck high, but hitting Justus Annunen’s shoulder.

Yet it was the Finns’ top line of Kotkaniemi, Nordgren, and Kakko, which likely needs no introduction to the scouts, that shone the brightest.

They are three excellent players, and they are having a really good tournament, said Niemela. "I enjoy watching them. It's the power of the youth. They like to do things that we can't do and will never be able to do. It's just a joy to see them on the ice. You can see that they love the game."

Kotkaniemi was a source of constant trouble for the Czechs on the left wing. The smooth-as-butter Finn created two scoring chances on the same first-period power-play. His gorgeous toe-drag move around the defenseman resulted in a pass across the crease, which Dvorak managed to cover. A minute later, Kotkaniemi unleashed a wicked wrister from the circle, which the goalie had no chance on, but the puck hit both the crossbar and the post before bouncing clear of the net. In the last minute of the period, Kotkaniemi worked more magic on the left side, fooled everyone he was about to shoot and slid a perfect pass to Sampo Ranta only to see the teammate miss the wide-open net.

If the highly-rated Finn stopped at that, he would’ve only strengthened his already high draft stock, but, in the third period, he also got called for a game misconduct after an ill-advised check from behind.

It was a bit of bad luck, reasoned Niemela. "The guy turned around just before the hit, and he was in a bit of a bad position. I am glad there was no injury, and I am sure, as a young player, (Kotkaniemi) will learn from this."

The Finns took over after the first intermission, spending most of the time in the offensive zone and almost casually removing all suspense from the game in the process. It was 35 seconds into the second frame when Suomi’s other pair of golden hands, those belonging to Nordgren, finally got the job done. A centering pass from Kaapo Kakko somehow evaded two Czech defensemen, and Nordgren, parked near the crease, easily tipped it in. Only 14 seconds later, Kupari’s hard wrister through traffic beat Daniel Dvorak high on the stick side, and the Finns sizeable territorial advantage was finally being manifested on the scoreboard.

I just hit the puck, and it was a good shot. Went right into the corner, mused Kupari. "It was good that we won. Every game is important, and we have to focus on our team game and on the next win."

Kotkaniemi made it 3-0 midway through the second as he maneuvered through the Czech zone on the right side and played a beautiful give and go with Kakko to befuddle the entire Czech five-man unit and bang the puck in from up close.

Nordgren slammed it past Dvorak on a two-man advantage at 17:03 to round up the second-period scoring.

With the result no longer in doubt, the Finns played defensively in the last frame, allowing Czech forwards to strut their stuff in front of the scouts. Lauko did just that, on a power-play opportunity, as he unleashed a monster wrist shot that knocked a defenseman’s stick out of his hands and beat Annunen on the short side.

The Finnish defense also got to show what it can do, with an absolutely heroic penalty kill eight minutes before the siren. First, Mikko Kokkonen got on his knees and impersonated a goalie, saving a shot. A split-second later, on the second-chace shot, Annunen made the save of the tourney, diving forward to smother the puck.

With a little more than two minutes left, Czech Republic made the score even more respectable, just as another power play expired. Strondala’s shot squeezed through Annunen’s pads, and the puck slowly crawled across the line as the goalie fell backward trying to cover it.

Both teams will be playing in quarterfinals action on Thursday, with Finland facing the tournament’s biggest surprise so far, Belarus. Czech Republic’s quarterfinal opponent will be the winner of tonight’s Canada-Sweden game in Magnitogorsk.

This will be the biggest game of the tournament for us, and we just want to keep doing the things we've been doing, said Niemela. "We want to be energetic and fresh, and the end result will come through that."

SLAVA MALAMUD

http://u18worlds2018.iihf.hockey/en/news/fin-cze/
U.S. bests Belarus

U.S. bests Belarus

25/04/2018, International, Hockey-Ice, International Ice Hockey Federation, Article # 26510940
The kids are alright. Cole Caulfield led the U.S. with three goals and an assist in an 8-0 thumping of Belarus to sew up third place in Group A in Magnitogorsk.

In the quarter-finals, the U.S. will face the winner of the Russia-Slovakia game, while Belarus takes on Finland.

To win the right games, you have to get better as the tournament goes along, said U.S. coach Seth Appert. "We’ve been stressing that to our guys the whole time. We did a lot of good things, even in the Canada and Sweden games that we lost. But we needed to improve, especially defensively. And now we’ve seen two real strong defensive efforts and also our offensive game tonight."

Alexander Turcotte had a goal and two assists and Joel Farabee added a goal and an assist. K’Andre Miller, Oliver Wahlstrom, and Gavin Hain also scored for the Americans. U.S. scoring leader Jack Hughes added a pair of assists.

The playoffs start now and our season’s on the line, said Wahlstrom.

I think it was really good to focus on our defensive play and not let any goals in, said Turcotte. "It was a huge boost to our confidence."

Earning his first shutout, U.S. goalie Drew DeRidder returned to the crease for the first time since allowing five goals on 24 shots in the 6-4 opening loss to Canada. For Belarus, Kirill Andreyev got his first start of the tournament as top goalie Nikita Tolopilo did not dress. Shots favored the U.S. 43-13.

It’s amazing, said DeRidder. "It’s a great crowd and an awesome rink. It’s a really good experience to be here. It’s a tough trip to get here, but it’s a lot of fun."

Belarus couldn't muster much after making the quarter-finals with its dramatic 5-4 win over Switzerland. This was never expected to be close, and it wasn’t. The U.S. came in with an all-time record of seven wins and one tie (2003) versus Belarus, having outscored their opponents 61-8.

Despite the resounding victory, this has not been a vintage U.S. preliminary-round performance so far. The last time the U.S. came third in its group was in 2013 in Sochi, where it wound up with the silver medal after losing the final to Canada.

With 14 goals against so far, this team has allowed as many as or more goals than any of its four predecessors did in an entire U18. It's something Appert must monitor moving forward.

We didn’t really have a great preliminary round, but to get this win going into the next round is really key for our success, said Caulfield.

Versus Belarus, it took just 2:19 for the U.S. to draw first blood. In a goalmouth scramble on the power play, Turcotte banged in a Jonathan Gruden rebound and the celebrations were on.

Undisciplined, the Americans gave Belarus a 5-on-3 with consecutive tripping minors, but the former Soviet republic couldn’t cash in.

Miller made it 2-0 at 16:57 with a great solo effort, busting into the Belarus zone on the right side and firing it top corner, stick side from the faceoff circle for his first of the tournament.

I think we just needed some energy, said Miller. "I tried to go up on the rush and get a shot on net. It happened to go in."

In the second period, Hughes got loose on a 2-on-1 and sent a casual pass over to Wahlstrom for his team-leading fifth goal at 2:13.

At 4:26, on the next 2-on-1, Caulfield came down, looked off the defender, and whipped a short-side wrister high past Andreyev.

As the 2001-born players continued to shine, Hughes, from the goal line, set up an incoming Farabee in the high slot for a 5-0 U.S. lead. Caulfield made it 6-0 at 13:13, roofing a backhander in tight from a scramble in front.

He’s always been a really good goal-scorer, said Turcotte of Caulfield. "Playing with him, it’s pretty easy. He always knows where to go and always finds his spots."

With 0:58 left in the second, Hain finished off a slick line rush with an in-tight shot that bounced in and out with lightning speed. It was reflective of the overall U.S. attack.

Andreyev was yanked in favor of Danil Veremeichik to start the third period, although it was far too late to change anything.

At 0:32 of the third, forward Yevgeni Oxentyuk was shaken up on a heavy open-ice hit by Gruden inside the Belarus blue line. He remained on the ice for a minute before heading to the bench. There was no call on the play.

After the teams traded penalties for the first half of the third, Caulfield completed his hat trick at 13:39 into an open net on a neat short-range dish from Turcotte. The U.S. killed off a late Belarus power play to preserve DeRidder's goose egg.

Cole’s been a goal-scorer for us all year, said Appert. "He’s played good in this tournament but they haven’t gone in the net yet. It was really good to see Cole find the back of the net tonight."

Leaning heavily on the centralized U.S. National Team Development Program, the Americans have won seven of the last nine U18 gold medals. Now the real tournament is about to begin for them.

LUCAS AYKROYD

http://u18worlds2018.iihf.hockey/en/news/usa-blr/
loading