Friday, February 23, 2018

Traum vom Gold!

Germany has defeated Canada for the first time in Olympic hockey history after suffering 15 straight losses dating back to 1932 (including East and West).

The reward for this historic victory is a more historic opportunity to play the Olympic Athletes from Russia for the gold medal for the first time.
It’s improbable, implausible…but no longer impossible.
Canada outshot the Germans 31-15, including 15-1 in the third, but after building a 4-1 lead through 40 minutes they survived a relentless Canadian attack to win the game. Canada will now play the Czechs tomorrow night for the bronze medal.
Penalties factored into tonight's score in a significant way. Canada scored twice in seven advantages and the Germans also scored twice, in four chances. Both teams had moments of undisciplined play.
"It’s disappointing," said Canada's Mason Raymond. "That’s hockey. They played a good game the first half. We didn’t play the game we were wanting. They outworked us in the first half and discipline and penalties definitely hurt us. We knew they were a good team. They got to the semis for a reason. You’ve got to give credit. They played well, but I don’t think we orchestrated what we were hoping to do well enough."
"We talked," said Andrew Ebbett of his team's preparation. "We had a good mindset coming in the last day and a half. Everyone was focused and prepared. The coaches did a good job. I don’t know. We came out flat there in the first. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing in a tournament like this, it's the Olympic Games."
Coach Willie Desjardins pulled goalie Kevin Poulin with 2:22 left in the third, but Canada couldn't get the tying goal before the final buzzer. After starting these Olympics with two losses, the Germans have now won four games in a row, all by one goal.
This also marks the first time in 84 years of competition between the two teams that Germany has scored four goals against Canada. And they needed that last one more than any other.
The Germans took advantage of several defensive breakdowns by the Canadians, and in their own end they created a veritable wall around goaltender Danny aus den Birken, blocking shots, chipping the puck out and letting Canada chase it, and taking time away from their opponents.
Canada had some good pressure early on but didn’t generate any top-rate scoring chances. The game changed, though, when Felix Schutz hit Maxim Noreau into the boards and received only a minor. 
Soon after, Canada unwisely incurred two penalties at the same time, and the Germans had a five-on-three power play for 49 seconds. Brooks Macek, born in Winnipeg, Canada, fired a quick wrist shot past the outstretched blocker of Kevin Poulin at 14:43 during that advantage.
Canada came out strong in the second, but it was the Germans who scored next. This time Patrick Hager fired a great pass to Matthias Plachta, and his quick shot found the twine at 3:21. 
Just to prove this 2-0 lead was no fluke, the Germans padded their lead less than four minutes later on a great play. David Wolf fired a stretch pass to Marcel Goc. Goc faked a shot to draw a defenceman to him, then feathered a pass to Frank Mauer, who made no mistake.
The Canadians got one goal back on a power play of their own thanks to a Gilbert Brule shot, but the Germans simply would not give in. They converted on another man advantage at 12:31, this time a point shot going off the knee of Hager and in.
Then the penalties started anew. Brule drilled David Wolf with an elbow to the head in centre ice, drawing a major penalty and game misconduct and putting Canada further into a hole. The Canadians killed it off but soon after drew another minor.
Canada got the start it wanted in the third, starting on a faceoff win in its own end. Moving the puck up quickly, Christian Thomas fed Mat Robinson with a pass and he made a nice deke on aud den Birken befor elifting the puck in at 2:42.
Relentless, Germany drew a penalty shot just 39 seconds later when Cody Goloubef tripped Dominik Kahun on a breakaway, but Poulin stoned him to keep the game within reach. 
That reach got a bit closer on a power play. Derek Roy fired a pass in front that went off a skate at 9:42, making it 4-3, and now the Germans were desperate to stop the Canadian momentum.

Czech dreams die in semis

Two second-period goals in 27 seconds sparked the Olympic Athletes from Russia to a 3-0 semi-final win over the Czechs and a berth in the 2018 gold medal game.

The OAR team will face the winner of the Canada-Germany semi-final on Sunday at 13:10 at the Gangneung Hockey Centre.
Nikita Gusev, Vladislav Gavrikov and Ilya Kovalchuk scored for Russia, and towering netminder Vasili Koshechkin, who has allowed just five goals in five games, got his tournament-leading second shutout. Shots favored the Czechs 31-22.

"We're here for one reason," said Kovalchuk. "I think we deserve to be in the final and we'll see that the best team will win."
No Russian team has won gold at the Olympics since the CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) team at the 1992 Albertville Olympics -- or even made the final. The 1992 team starring Vyacheslav Bykov and Andrei Khomutov defeated the Canadians with Eric Lindros and Joe Juneau by a 3-1 score.
On balance, coach Oleg Znarok’s team has met expectations here in PyeongChang. With NHL non-participation, 2018 is a prime opportunity for them to take top spot with their glut of KHL talent.

Paced offensively by SKA St. Petersburg’s Gusev and Kovalchuk and CSKA Moscow’s Kirill Kaprizov, the Russians lead the Olympics with 23 goals. After a sloppy 3-2 opening loss to underdog Slovakia, they have trampled their opponents with four straight wins, including 8-2 over Slovenia, 4-0 over the U.S., and 6-1 over Norway.

2018 captain Pavel Datsyuk (Stanley Cup 2002, 2008 and Worlds gold 2012) is now one win away from joining the IIHF’s Triple Gold Club.

Datsyuk told journalists: "We have a bit of time before the final, we have a chance to recover. And if you don't ask me too many questions, I'll have more time to recover."

The Czechs have only one Olympic gold, the historic 1998 Nagano triumph at the first “NHL Olympics.” In that final, Petr Svoboda’s 1-0 goal won it and MVP Dominik Hasek got his second tournament shutout, throwing their Central European nation into ecstasy. But there will be no chants reminiscent of “Hasek to the Castle!” this month in Prague. 
The last time the Czechs faced a Russian team in the Olympic playoffs, Tomas Vokoun earned a 28-save shutout in a 3-0 bronze-medal victory in Turin 2006. At least the Czechs still have a shot at repeating that feat against the loser of Canada-Germany. They have proved resilient and canny so far, winning three out of their four previous games by one goal, including a 3-2 quarter-final shootout win over the U.S.

"It's a tough loss but we have to move forward," said assistant captain Jan Kovar. "We started with a tough game against Korea, but I think we played better with every game after that. The way the tournament went and the way we played, we're disappointed because we felt like we could go all the way. But Russia is a great team, so congratulations to them."
After a scoreless first period, Gusev opened the scoring at 7:47 of the second from the left faceoff circle, converting a cross-ice feed from Datsyuk past goalie Pavel Francouz. The Czechs challenged the play for goalie interference, claiming Kaprizov was the culprit. But video review showed the 20-year-old winger, who led the 2017 World Juniors in scoring, didn't make contact, and the goal stood.

It was the second goal of the tournament for Gusev, who is second in Olympic scoring with eight points behind Finland’s Eeli Tolvanen (nine points).

"Of course it was important to open the scoring, because it was a tense game and everyone was afraid of making a mistake," said Datsyuk.
At 8:14, the Russians struck with cobra-like speed to make it 2-0. Ivan Telegin raced down right wing and lifted a perfect backhand saucer pass over blueliner Adam Polasek’s stick to Gavrikrov. The 22-year-old SKA defenceman beat Francouz high to the stick side.

"On the goal, when I broke forward with Telegin, the main thing was that we got the goal," said Gavrikov. "Right now, it doesn't matter who puts the puck in the net. My legs took me there and, of course, you'd expect a dish like that from Ivan."
Kovalchuk, not always disciplined, threatened his team’s momentum when he promptly took a kneeing minor on Jan Kolar. After the Czechs hemmed in the OAR squad but couldn’t score with the man advantage, Kovalchuk rushed back on and slashed the stick out of Polasek’s hands. The man who sparked Russia to gold at the 2008 and 2009 Worlds returned to the sin bin – but again “Kovy” dodged a bullet.

Trailing by two was a bitter pill for the Czechs, who outshot their opponents 15-8 in the second period. And despite pressing valiantly in the final stanza, they could not solve Koshechkin, who has backstopped Metallurg Magnitogorsk to two KHL titles (2015, 2016). Kovalchuk added the empty-netter with 21 seconds left, tying him with Tolvanen and the U.S.'s Ryan Donato for the Olympic goals lead (five).

"The biggest part of tonight's win was our goalie, and our PK was outstanding," said Mikhail Grigorenko after his team killed off five minors in total. "The guys were blocking shots all over, working hard and pushing each other. It was great."

"We're still able to play for a medal, and that was our goal when we got here," said Czech defenceman Michal Jordan. "We're still in the tournament, and we have to get ready for the next game. It's big for us and we have to play our best game."
Russia’s last Olympic hockey medal was bronze in Salt Lake City 2002.
A three-time KHL Coach of the Year and Gagarin Cup champion, Znarok has had declining returns with the national team, but will reverse that trend in Korea. At the Worlds, the mustachioed 55-year-old bench boss earned gold in 2014, silver in 2015, and bronze in both 2016 and 2017. It could be time for him to usher in a new golden era in Russian hockey.

Twins defeat Gophers on walk-off wild pitch in spring exhibition

The Twins lineup Thursday included several players not in the running for spots on the Opening Day roster.
But the Gophers, in the middle of an early-season tour of Georgia and Florida, had some players who made their college debuts.
Somehow, it led to a grind-it-out game with no extra-base hits that wasn’t decided until LaMonte Wade scored on a wild pitch with the bases loaded in the ninth inning, giving the Twins a 2-1 victory in their first exhibition game of the year at Hammond Stadium.
“Your're kind of getting your feet wet,” Twins manager Paul Molitor said moments after looking across the field at his good friend, Gophers coach John Anderson. “It feels really fast with three full-day workouts. You can tell by even the timing of guys facing college pitchers that it takes awhile.”
Gophers pitchers held the Twins to two hits over the first six innings. One them was an RBI single by Brock Stassi in the first to open the scoring. Relievers Bubba Horton, a freshman, and Sam Bridges, a redshirt freshman, threw their first pitches as Gophers during the game, helping to keep the Twins off the scoreboard.
The Gophers, using bats supplied by the Twins, tied the game in the third on Micah Coffey’s sacrifice fly. Then the procession of relievers and scoreless innings took over.
Brian Navarreto had two hits for the Twins. Luke Pettersen had two hits for the Gophers, who play Boston College on Friday in Port Charlotte.

Eagles Battle Sox in Two-Run Game

The Boston College baseball took on the Boston Red Sox for the 27th time in a seven-inning exhibition game at JetBlue Park Fenway South in Fort Myers, Fla., on Thursday afternoon. The Eagles fell, 4-2, to the professional team, but tallied a few hits and strikeouts off the big leaguers.
The Red Sox jumped out to an early 2-0 lead in the first inning and added two more in the fourth. The Eagles scored their two runs in the seventh, including one on an RBI by sophomore Jake Goodreau.
Sophomore RHP Matt Gill recorded two strikeouts on the day and the entire BC pitching staff tallied four K's. Sophomore Dante Baldelli, freshman Chris Galland and redshirt junior Scott Braren registered the three BC hits on the day with Braren doubling in the fourth.


 Max Burt's RBI double during the top of the third inning helped the Northeastern baseball team find its way onto the scoreboard on Thursday afternoon against the Boston Red Sox, despite the Fenway club asserting its pro status against the Huskies, 15-2, during its spring training opener at JetBlue Park.
Burt's two-bagger was one of four hits Northeastern managed to slug against the Red Sox. Nolan Lang put the Huskies in the hit column courtesy of his second-inning base knock off Jalen Beeks, while Cam Walsh and Jake Farrell provided the remaining two hits for the collegiate side.
Northeastern's arms combined to strike out six Boston hitters. Tyler Robinson and Danny Ryan each struck out a pair, while Brandon Dufault opened the Huskies' defensive fourth inning with a strikeout of Austin Rei, finishing the frame with two more successive outs.

Defensively, NU shortstop Ian Fair made arguably the best play of the game for either team, scooping up Mike Olt's fifth-inning ground ball and lofting a jump-throw across the diamond to collect the out at first base. Fair also completed the middle leg of the Huskies' 4-6-3 double play during the bottom of the sixth inning, receiving Jake Rosen's flip before firing to Ryan Solomon to complete the twin-killing.
Despite producing eight hits, the Red Sox plated seven runs during the bottom of the first inning prior to tacking on three more during the bottom of the second. Kyri Washington's grand slam highlighted a five-run third inning for the pro squad, which took a 15-0 lead into the fourth inning.

Boston's victory extended the Red Sox' undefeated series winning streak against Northeastern to 16-0 and broke the trend of five consecutive meetings decided by five runs or fewer.

Detroit Tigers rally in seventh, beat Florida Southern in exhibition

The Detroit Tigers would not be denied in their annual exhibition opener against Florida Southern Thursday afternoon.
Shut out through six innings, they finally took the lead with three runs in the bottom of the seventh for the 6-1 win, pushing their record to 29-1-2 against the Moccasins.
To start, there were no injuries.
Opening the spring slate was right-hander Alex Wilson, who is competing for a spot in the starting rotation. Wilson threw a pair of scoreless innings on 25 pitches, striking out five.
Wilson threw to catcher James McCann, who played four innings. The only other projected regular in the starting lineup, leftfielder Mikie Mahtook, went 0-for-1.
After focusing so much on fundamentals during the first week of spring training, the Tigers committed four errors in the first four innings. Two were throwing errors by McCann on attempted stolen bases. The fourth, a booted ball by prospect Kody Eaves at third base, plated Southern Florida’s first run.
In the bottom of the seventh, the Tigers tied the game when outfielder Victor Reyes — selected in this winter’s Rule 5 draft from the Diamondbacks — hit a wind-aided double to left-centerfield. Prospect infielder Harold Castro followed with a wind-aided double of his own, scoring two runs, and the Tigers did not look back.
On the mound, roster contenders Joe Jimenez, Buck Farmer, Enrique Burgos and Kevin Comer all threw. Jimenez looked great. Farmer was the victim of multiple errors. Burgos threw hard and Comer walked one batter.
The Tigers tacked on three runs in the eighth inning courtesy of a RBI double from Jim Adduci — who played first base — and a two-run double from utilityman Alexi Amarista.
The Tigers open up Grapefruit League play Friday afternoon against the Yankees in Tampa.

Phillies blank University of Tampa as the spring games begin

The Phillies used nine pitchers Thursday to shut out the University of Tampa, 9-0, in a 10-inning exhibition a day before opening Grapefruit League play.

Jerad Eickhoff pitched the first two innings, striking out two and retiring all six batters he faced. Jose Taveras, Tom Eshelman, Franklyn Kilome, Enyel De Los Santos, Seranthony Dominguez, Cole Irvin, Ranger Suarez, and Brandon Leibrandt handled the rest.
Zachary Green and Andrew Pullin hit back-to-back homers in the ninth inning after the game was extended to 10 innings.
Tommy Joseph hit an RBI double in the first and Danny Ortiz, who ended the third inning with a diving catch in center field, drove in a pair of runs with a single in the fourth. Zachary Coppola, a minor-leaguer who came over to big-league camp for the day, made a terrific diving catch in center to end the fifth.
In the seventh, Andrew Pullin hit a two-run single and Heiker Meneses added a sacrifice fly.