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Home Advantage? Goaltending Pains? Why Team Canada might win the 2017 World Juniors — and why it Might Not



Canadians don’t collectively pound their chests with pride anymore when it comes to the world juniors. No, we’re too busy chewing our fingernails down to the nubs in a sign of coast-to-coast angst.

Since the late Pat Quinn led Canada to the title at the 2009 tournament in Ottawa, Canada has captured gold just once, that coming two years ago thanks to a dramatic 5-4 victory in the championship game in Toronto. And while home-ice advantage proved key in that event, playing at home did not result in titles in 2010 (Regina/Saskatoon) and 2012 (Calgary/Edmonton).

Keeping that in mind, how will Canada fare in the 2017 edition, which kicks off on Boxing Day in Toronto and Montreal? Here is a breakdown of why Canada might — and might not — win this upcoming tournament.


Team Canada accrued plenty of momentum their opening pair of pre-tournament games, which were impressive, to say the least. A 5-0 victory over Finland Monday was followed by an equally dominating 5-0 decision over the Czech Republic on Wednesday, results that should help cure the butterflies churning inside the guts of those Canadian players participating in the tourney for the first time.

The most pleasing aspect of those lopsided wins for coach Dominique Ducharme was the fact they didn’t allow a goal in 120 minutes, the type of stingy defence he hopes will carry over into the preliminary round and beyond.

Unfinished business

It is a phrase you keep hearing from captain Dylan Strome — over and over again. It has become the unofficial mantra of Team Canada 2017, with Strome and the other four returnees from last year’s team — forwards Mathew Barzal, Julien Gauthier and Mitchell Stephens and defenceman Thomas Chabot — still haunted by the disappointment of not even advancing deep enough to play for a medal at the 2016 event in Helsinki, Finland.

“It wasn’t the result we wanted last year, but we’re excited to be back,” said Chabot, the Ottawa Senators blueline prospect who plays for the Saint John Sea Dogs. In the minds of these five, it’s time to make amends from the shortcomings of 12 months ago.

Home cooking

What does playing on home ice mean? Here’s what Connor McDavid had to say after his Canadian squad beat Russia 5-4 in the 2015 gold medal game at the Air Canada Centre. “Crazy,” McDavid said at the time. “The crowd out there was unbelievable. They were with us every step of the way. Such a loud building. Just standing on the blue line and singing the national anthem with 22 of my good buddies. The crowd. It’s hard to explain.”

It’s the type of snapshot in time members of Team Canada 2017 will be yearning for in Toronto and Montreal. This much we do know: there will be no shortage of energy and support coming from the stands.

Captain Catalyst

If anyone has a chip on his shoulder heading into this tournament, it’s Strome. Sent back to the OHL’s Erie Otters by the Arizona Coyotes late last month, Strome found himself as the only top-5 selection from the 2015 entry draft not playing in the NHL.

As such, while McDavid (1st overall pick, Edmonton Oilers), Jack Eichel (2nd, Buffalo Sabres), Mitch Marner (4th, Toronto Maple Leafs) and Noah Hanifin (5th, Carolina Hurricanes) remain with their parent clubs, Strome is transforming his frustration into motivation to eclipse the nightmare that was Team Canada’s performance at last year’s tournament. The message he continues to pound into his 2017 teammates: there are no shortcuts in this event.

“I want to stress to the young guys how hard this tournament is,” Strome told Postmedia. “I want them to know every game is important — otherwise, you might end up with a tougher match-up in the quarters and semis than there needs to be … It’s all there in front of us. But to be successful, we cannot take anything for granted.”

Obviously, there will be no resting on one’s laurels in the Team Canada dressing room under Strome’s leadership — and that’s a key for Ducharme and his coaching staff.

“Last year left a bitter taste,” Strome said. “Nothing I can do to change that except go out and hopefully lead Canada to a gold medal.”

Spotlight delight

Pressure? What pressure? Obviously, the fact that this tournament means more to Canadians than it does to any other hockey fans puts Team Canada directly under the glaring spotlight of an entire country. How the players handle it will eventually determine whether it ends up being a positive or a negative.

Here’s the advice 2015 gold-medal winner Nick Ritchie, now of the Anaheim Ducks, had for the 2017 team. “There’s a lot of pressure, but if you embrace it and just play hockey, you’re good to go,” Ritchie said earlier this week. Indeed, by adopting such a glass-half-full attitude, Team Canada will have a much easier time concentrating on all the stuff that matters on the ice instead of all the stuff that doesn’t off it.



The weight of history

For whatever reason, Canada has just four medals at this event in the past seven years — the lone gold in that span coming in 2015, along with silvers in 2010 and 2011 and a bronze in 2012. The Canadians were shut out from the podium in 2016, a source of concern for Hockey Canada president Tom Renney and his staff.

“Canada’s struggles at this event recently have been puzzling,” a long-time scout told Postmedia. “The men’s team has dominated at the past two Olympics and at the World Cup in September, so it’s not like the Canadian product has sagged at all levels — just the junior one. It’s hard to figure out why.” It’s a dilemma Renney hopes can be solved over the next two-plus weeks.

Closing the gap

Canada’s recent struggles at the world juniors is a reflection that this country no longer is the dominating presence it once was at the junior level, with the rest of the field certainly having closed the gap. Consider, for example, the outstanding showing by Finland on the international stage this year, capturing gold medals at the under-20 and under-18 levels and winning silver at the men’s world championships.

In the end, the Canadians will enter the event as the +100 betting favourites at sports books monitored by But history dictates that Canada had best beware — the competition is closing in.

Missing in action

Pretty well every team in the tourney will be missing talent, whether it be due to injury or because NHL teams have opted to keep their junior-eligible players with their parent clubs. Still, it’s hard not to think of the juggernaut Team Canada would be if had all its potential stars at its disposal.

Consider the list of eligible players who won’t be lacing up for Team Canada: McDavid (Oilers), Marner (Maple Leafs), Travis Konecny (Philadelphia Flyers), Jakob Chychrun (Arizona Coyotes), Lawson Crouse (Coyotes), Anthony Beauvillier (New York Islanders) and top 2017 prospect Nolan Patrick (upper-body injury). Such a rich cache of raw skill that won’t be wearing Canada’s red-and-white for the holidays.

Net pains

While not solely to blame for Canada’s recent hiccups at the world juniors, the numbers show that the lack of dominant goaltending for Canada has been an issue. From 1982 to 2009 — a span in which Canada won 15 gold medals — a Team Canada puckstopper won the award for the best tournament goalie 10 times. In recent rocky times, there were zero best goalie awards and just one gold for Canada.

One sliver of optimism for Canada this time around: goalies Carter Hart and Connor Ingram posted back-to-back shutouts in pre-tournament wins over the Finland and the Czechs this week. “You just have to stay dialed in the whole time and just be totally engaged for a full 60 minutes,” Hart said.

Maybe. But those two victories matter little when the games that count kick off on Boxing Day. Canada hasn’t had a dominant goaltending performance since Carey Price in 2006. It’s a trend Hart and Ingram will attempt to change.

Spotlight fright

As mentioned earlier, the pressure of wearing that Canadian maple leaf can be a positive or negative, depending on how — and if — the players embrace it. If Canada fumbles and bumbles its way out of the gates early, a sense of national fretting will blanket this county with every passing shift. That’s a lot of weight to put on any teenager.

“I wish I could forget it,” Strome said when asked about Team Canada’s inability to finish in the top four a year ago in Finland. “It’s not a good feeling. So many people in your country and your family and friends watch the games … I’m still not over it.” Such are the high expectations an entire country puts on these kids, rightly or wrongly

“The true test comes when the tournament starts and we face more adversity and different situations,” coach Ducharme said. How Team Canada handles the white noise surrounding it might play as big a role as how they play on the ice.

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7 tips for mortgage renewal time



It is that time of the year for you to renew your mortgage and all you want to do is sign the papers and get done with it. However, you shouldn’t be in a haste to renew your mortgage without doing a little research.

A good fraction of Canadian homeowners—about 27 per cent of them—who carry a mortgage have automated their renewal process, according to a survey by Angus-Reid. While the aim is most likely to avoid any penalties or stress that comes with missing a renewal, this approach can prove costly. Automatically renewing your mortgage means you lose out on great opportunities to save money and take further advantage of any new products and features on your mortgage that may be advantageous to you.

Typically, mortgage renewals occur at the end of your existing mortgage term and the most popular period is usually 5 years—though it can range from 1 to 10 years. Depending on your mortgage type, with a fixed rate mortgage calculator, you can easily estimate your monthly mortgage payment and know how much you’re due on your next payment.

However, before you make your next mortgage payment, here are some important tips that would help you get the most out of your mortgage renewal.

1. Review your current goals

It is possible that your financial needs must’ve changed since you first applied for a mortgage. Therefore, before your sign that renewal slip, you may want to take another look at your financial goals.

For instance, if you’re currently on a five-year fixed mortgage, your renewal would likely come with another five-year fixed mortgage. If you’re certain you would be staying in your home for that amount of time, then renewing it would be great. However, if you have plans of relocating to a different city in a couple of years, then a shorter mortgage term would be best.

Other financial goals that you may want to consider is whether you want to refinance your mortgage or access some equity with Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC).

2. Ask for better rates

Before your mortgage renewal is due, your current lender would most likely try to get you to renew early. Typically, you will receive a renewal letter from your lender 6 months and 4 months before your renewal date. While they may offer you a rate that is lower than what you currently pay, it is often not the best rate you can get.

The renewal offer given to you by your lender is often not the best deal and in an increasing rate environment, negotiating your renewal rate is even more important. Signing the renewal letter right away because of some discount offered by your lender might seem tempting but you are potentially losing out on a lot of savings by not considering other available options.

3. Shop early for better rates

Rather than just accepting your current lender’s renewal offer immediately, you can start searching early for other providers and comparing their rates to see which one is most favourable for you. If you begin at least four months before your renewal due date, you will be giving yourself enough time to make a switch, if necessary.

While there are no major penalties if you choose to switch providers, there are some charges incurred that are typically covered by your new mortgage provider. You may not be able to change your mortgage provider until the actual renewal date, but this would give you enough time to find the right product and sort out every required paperwork.

4. Take advantage of a renewal rate hold

A mortgage renewal rate hold allows you to lock in a particular mortgage rate before your renewal is due. Normally, rate hold can last for about 90 to up to 160 days, protecting you from increases in interest rates.

During this time, you can comfortably compare rates months before your renewal date just to find a better deal. If the interest rates increase during your rate hold period, you would have nothing to worry about. Also, should the interest rates decrease, you can still negotiate for a new lower rate with your lender.

5. Switch mortgage lenders

Cutting ties with your current lender can be difficult—at least that’s the impression most lenders give to home buyers. But don’t be afraid of switching lenders, especially when you’ve found a better rate elsewhere.

Remember, getting a better deal on your mortgage can save you few thousands of dollars. Switching providers might mean you have to go through requalification but that is not a problem as long as you begin the process early enough before your renewal date.

6. Add some extra on your principal

If you’re looking for the best time to make a bigger payment on your mortgage, then renewal time is the best since there are no limits on pre-payment.

Making a lump-sum payment can put a huge dent in your mortgage amortization and you would be saving a lot of money on your total interest cost.

7. Consider switching to a broker

If you’re not already using a mortgage broker, then renewal time might be the best time to consider making the switch. According to a study by the Bank of Canada, most homebuyers who used a broker got a much lower mortgage rate than those who used one of the big banks.

Mortgage brokers are a better alternative because they have access to several lenders who offer different competitive rates, unlike the bank. Therefore, if you’re looking to get the best deal on your mortgage, switching to a broker might be a great move.

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3 Money and time-saving mortgage tips



The path to buying a house isn’t the cheapest nor the easiest. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began last year, there has been several opportunities and challenges for first-time home buyers in the Canadian real estate market.

For some, sudden changes to their lifestyle created better opportunities to improve their savings plan while for others, such plans were halted due to the economic impact of the pandemic and rising home prices in real estate markets across Canada. According to the Canadian Real Estate Association, over 550,000 properties were sold in Canada last year, a new record for the country’s real estate market and a huge boost for the Canadian economy.

If you are a prospective buyer, looking to purchase a home within the year or just planning for the future, having access to the right information, resources and support can be crucial during your home-buying process. Many people—especially first-time home buyers—easily fall into home debt due to a lack of proper research into the market.

There are some important factors to consider in ensuring that your mortgage works best for you by not only saving you time but money. However, before you start searching for a home to buy, you should have a good idea of just how much you’re able to afford for one. 

Checking your credit score using a Canadian mortgage calculator before applying for a mortgage, would give you a realistic price range and equally inform you of your chances of getting your mortgage approved.

Here are some important mortgage tips to help you save time and money while house hunting:

1. Know the penalties on your mortgage

There are several reasons why anyone would want to sell their property. From changes in your financial or marital status to getting transferred to a new location due to either school or work. However, these circumstances could lead to you selling your home and breaking the terms of agreement on your mortgage.

If you’re on a variable-rate mortgage with one of the major banks in Canada, to successfully break your mortgage, you would need to pay about 3 months’ worth of interest. For a fixed-rate mortgage, the cost is much higher than 3 months of interest and there’s also the option of an interest rated differential (IRD). This is typically based on your remaining mortgage balance and current mortgage rates.

To avoid penalties on your mortgage, apply for a portable mortgage that allows you to transfer your existing mortgage to a new property and even combine it with another loan, if necessary. There’s also the option of an assumable mortgage, where you can transfer the mortgage to a qualified buyer instead of breaking it.

2.  Inquire about pre-payment privileges

When buying a home, you need to understand how rising interest rates would affect your mortgage. Without having any pre-payment privileges, the larger portion of your monthly mortgage payment would go towards the interest against the principal—making it harder to complete your mortgage.

Once you have pre-payment privileges, you’re offered enough flexibility to repay a percentage of the principal on your mortgage before the amortization period is over—and without any penalty. In fact, some lenders may even offer you their best rate to avoid giving you the option of pre-payment over a fixed period of time. Therefore, it is important to ask your lender the specific kind of pre-payment privileges you enjoy on your mortgage.

The amount of money you save by taking advantage of pre-payment privileges is quite substantial. For example, if you took a $300,000 mortgage at a fixed rate of 3.29% over five years and is amortized over 25 years. By making a pre-payment of $2,000 annually, you would save about $21,787 in interest and finish paying off your mortgage almost 4 years faster—assuming the interest rate was fixed throughout the amortization period.

You can always use a mortgage calculator to check much you would be saving by making extra mortgage payments annually.

3.  Know the benefits of making a less than 20% down payment

Typically, when house hunting, the recommended amount of down payment you need to make is 20% of the property cost. However, you mustn’t always pay that high to get the best deal.

Surprisingly, lenders offer the best interest rates to those who want high-ratio mortgage because they have less than the recommended 20% down payment. This because a high-ratio mortgage borrower has a low risk against losses.  

Default insurance makes it a lot cheaper for lenders to easily fund the mortgage loan, allowing them to transfer some of the savings—in form of lower rates—back to the borrower.

It is important to always carry out thorough research before applying for a mortgage to know what the best rates are, if a broker is more advantageous than a bank, or simply how you can get the best credit scores.

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Major housing markets to shine this year and next: Reuters poll



BENGALURU (Reuters) – The outlook for major global housing markets is brighter than previously thought due to expectations for a broad based economic recovery and easy monetary policy, with only a low risk that a COVID-19 resurgence will derail activity, Reuters polls showed.

Over 100 million people have been infected by the coronavirus, leading to a healthcare crisis and deep economic recessions, but fiscal and monetary stimulus, and the rollout of vaccines, mean the global economy is set to recover this year.[ECILT/WRAP]

While already high unemployment caused by the pandemic is expected to rise further, the Jan. 15-Feb. 1 poll of over 130 property market analysts showed average home prices would rise this year and next in most countries polled.

That compares to largely pessimistic predictions made in September.

An economic rebound, loose monetary policy, government stimulus, pent-up demand and tight inventories were expected to boost housing market activity to varying degrees in Australia, Britain, Canada, Dubai, India and the United States.

“A solid economic recovery bolstered by more fiscal stimulus, still-low mortgage rates, and unmet demand should continue to prop up home sales and construction in 2021,” said Gregory Daco, chief U.S. economist at Oxford Economics.

“We expect some gradual moderation in price growth over the course of 2021 as home sales cool, but sparse inventory will keep a solid floor under home prices.”

Reuters Poll: Major housing markets outlook

Three-quarters, or 77 of 102 analysts, said in response to an additional question that the risk of a COVID-19 resurgence derailing housing markets this year was low.

Although the U.S. economy on average contracted last year at its sharpest pace since the Second World War due to the pandemic, it had little bearing on housing market activity, an immunity the sector was expected to carry this year.

Despite the recent surge in coronavirus infections and renewed restrictions imposed in the United States, house prices there were forecast to rise over the next two years and activity was expected to continue on a strong course. [US/HOMES]

“The recent COVID-19 surge has not had any noticeable impact, with transactions near record high levels despite record high case growth,” said Brett Ryan, senior U.S. economist at Deutsche Bank.

“Pent-up activity from COVID-19-shutdowns earlier in the year will soon start to wane and transactions will likely normalize. More housing supply will come online as vaccination picks up at the same time that base effects will start to roll off.”

Reuters Poll: Global house prices outlook – Feb 2021

When asked about the primary driver of housing market activity this year, over 55% of respondents, or 57 of 101, chose an economic recovery and easy monetary policy.

Of the remainder, 20 analysts named a desire for more living space and 18 said a successful vaccine rollout, while six chose fiscal stimulus.

Australian and Canadian house prices were expected to rise significantly this year and next, helped by low mortgage rates and massive fiscal spending. [AU/HOMES][CA/HOMES]

When asked what was more likely for housing market activity, 58 of 100 respondents said an acceleration. The others expected a slowdown.

Those views were swayed by a somewhat modest outlook for the British, Dubai and Indian housing markets compared to the rest.

Indian house prices were expected to barely rise this year despite an economic recovery and supportive policies, and Dubai house prices were predicted to fall at a slower pace this year and next compared to the previous poll. [IN/HOMES][AE/HOMES]

British house prices were forecast to flatline this year.[GB/HOMES]

“While we expect a strong start to the year, we expect momentum to wane following the end of the stamp duty (property sales tax) holiday in April. Towards the end of the year the housing market should settle,” said Aneisha Beveridge at estate agents Hamptons International.

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