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Ticats thoroughly dominate Alouettes 31-7



Without quarterback Kevin Glenn, slotback S.J. Green and tailback Tyrell Sutton, the results were predictable.

The Alouettes’ offence was virtually non-existent Friday night at Molson Stadium. The Hamilton Tiger-Cats ended a two-game losing streak with a 31-7 victory before 20,098 spectators. The Ticats are now 2-2 while the 1-2 Als are on a two-game home losing streak.

After being held to one touchdown in their last game, the Als failed to reach the end zone against the Ticats and have been held to four touchdowns through three games.

Rakeem Cato was making his first start at quarterback for Montreal since Oct. 10, and the Als’ offence displayed some diversity and imagination — at least early — but simply couldn’t complete drives.

The Als’ defence raised the level of their play, utilizing primarily a 3-4 formation, making linebacker Kyries Hebert more of a vital cog than he was in the team’s last game.

The Als got a break on their second series when Cato attempted a pass to the wide side of the field that was poorly thrown and intercepted by cornerback Travis Lee. But the visitors were offside on the play, Quinton Pointer guilty of the infraction.

Given a reprieve, Cato connected with Duron Carter for a 40-yard reception. Carter, allowed to play while he appeals a one-game suspension, beat linebacker Rico Murray on the play — although the pass was badly underthrown.

According to a report by TSN, Carter’s hearing will be held Aug. 17.

Alouettes kicker Boris Bede acknowledges applause from the crowd after the playing of the French national anthem in hommage of the victims of the Nice terrorist attack priot to Canadian Football League game against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats in Montreal, Friday, July 15, 2016. Teammate Aaron Lavarias pats him on the shoulder. John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette

Following the big play to Carter, the Als had the ball at the Hamilton 38. Cato then passed 10 yards to Samuel Giguère, moving the ball closer to the end zone. Following a four-yard gain by Brandon Rutley, replacing the injured Sutton, Cato was sacked for an 11-yard loss. The second-year pivot fumbled on the play, but the ball was recovered by Montreal offensive-tackle Jacob Ruby.

Boris Bede kicked a 42-yard field goal at 10:57 to open the scoring. It marked his fourth successful kick in seven attempts this season.

The Als got the ball back quickly and appeared to have something going after Cato alertly delivered a shovel pass to Rutley as the quarterback was about to get hit. Rutley gained some significant yards, but then fumbled — the ball recovered by Pointer at the Ticats’ 53.

Montreal’s defence, however, forced a two-and-out. The offence appeared poised to seize the opportunity again.

Cato ran for a seven-yard gain before Rutley scampered for six. Cato then found B.J. Cunningham wide open on the sideline for a 24-yard gain. Cunningham was a healthy scratch in the Als’ last game, June 30 against Ottawa, as the coaching staff elected to dress two running backs — Sutton and Rutley combining for 11 carries.

Another 12-yard reception by Cunningham moved the ball to the Ticats’ 37, but a pass to Corbin Louks, making his regular-season debut, was incomplete. Cato was then sacked for a seven-yard loss and the Als elected to punt.

Montreal produced another nice drive later in the quarter. Cato passed 12 yards to Carter, found Nik Lewis for a 12-yard gain and connected with Rutley for 11 yards. But the Als failed to generate another first down and Bede’s 43-yard field goal attempt was wide left for a single at 10:50, increasing the tenuous lead to 4-0.

Although they were outplayed for the majority of the half, the visitors actually took a 5-4 lead to their dressing room at halftime. Bede conceded a safety at 14:20. Then, on the final play of the period, Brett Maher kicked a 56-yard field goal after the Ticats were called for procedure.

The Als’ offence wasn’t nearly as slick and polished in the second half — not that it was great over the opening 30 minutes. On the second play, a pass deflected off Rutley and was intercepted by John Chick. He fumbled, but the ball was recovered by his teammate Emanuel Davis.

After the Als were held without a first down on their next possession, Brandon Banks returned a punt 86 yards for a touchdown at 3:47. Banks cut to the right, eluding long-snapper Martin Bédard, before shooting up the middle and scoring with remarkable ease.

Banks returned a field goal 120 yards for a touchdown last week against Winnipeg. The punt-return score increased Hamilton’s lead to 12-4.

 Alouettes Duron Carter heads upfield after breaking tackle by Hamilton Tiger-Cats Rico Murray, bottom, as Cats Courtney Stephen pursues during Canadian Football League game in Montreal, Friday, July 15, 2016. John Mahoney / Montreal Gazette

The Als finally got something going on their next drive, methodically moving the ball down the field to the Hamilton 34 before the drive stalled. Bede’s 42-yard field goal attempt went wide left, but the Ticats were called for offside.

Bede made his 36-yarder at 9:44, pulling the Als to within five — 12-7.

Stefan Logan returned a punt 27 yards. But two plays later, Cato was hit by Adrian Tracy and fumbled, the ball recovered by middle-linebacker Larry Dean.

Hamilton then quickly went 57 yards in only three plays, including a 29-yard screen pass to tailback C.J. Gable. Gable eventually scored on a nine-yard run up the middle at 12:10 for a 19-7 lead.

Maher kicked a 39 yarder early in the fourth quarter, making the score 22-7. With 13 minutes remaining in the game, Cato was replaced by rookie Vernon Adams — not that it mattered at this point.

Maher kicked a 10-yard field goal at 7:28, adding a 42-yarder at 11:04. He completed the scoring with a 44 yarder at 13:07.

The Als get a significant layoff now to lick their wounds before travelling to Toronto for a game against the Argonauts on July 25. The Argos have lost both games this season at BMO Field, while Montreal’s only victory came on the road.

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Up and Coming Sports Stars to Look Out for in 2020



Every year, a raft of exciting new players come onto the scene across all of the major US sports. With the MLS season getting underway and the NFL and MLB drafts not too far away, now is a great time to look at the young sports stars that could have a very bright future ahead of them, and the ones that are already proving they are destined for greatness.

Theo Bair (MLS)

This MLS season is looking like it could be one of the best yet, with David Beckham’s Inter Miami team adding some extra dazzle to the league. Whilst Beckham might be able to attract a lot of new players to his MLS team, there are a lot of young stars on their way through such as Theo Bair at Vancouver Whitecaps. Bair has already made an impact on the first team and after impressing at under-20 and under-23 level for the national team, he has made two appearances for the senior team, well before his 21st birthday. This year could see Bair make a real name for himself in the MLS.

Source: Pixabay

Vladimir Guerrero Jr. (MLB)

Montreal-born Vladimir Guerrero Jr has one MLB season under his belt but it looks like the best is still yet to come from him at the Blue Jays. He was heavily backed to take the league by storm but he failed to live up to the hype that surrounded him. Without the pressure of being the top-ranked prospect, this season could see Guerrero play with some weight lifted off his shoulders. He has been working very hard on his fitness over the offseason, something that his manager Montoyo has been quick to comment upon.

Baseball by andrewmalone, on Flickr

Baseball” (CC BY 2.0) by andrewmalone

Connor McDavid (NHL)

McDavid has already established him as a top hockey player but at 23, he has the potential to go on to do so much more. The player was born in Ontario and was the first overall draft pick, showing how much expectation was already on him at that stage but he has gone on to prove that he is one of the best players in the NHL. McDavid could go on to be one the NHL’s best-ever hockey players and this season could be the year that he shows the world, not just the NHL.

Chuba Hubbard (College Football)

The Oklahoma State Cowboys running back has been making the headlines for several years now. He continues to improve and grab more attention for his impressive stats and performances. He was close to being a sprinter and nearly made the Canadian Olympic team before switching over to football. He is passing up the 2020 NFL draft to play his senior season at Cowboys. He should give them a good chance of winning the College Football Championship, though they’re trailing at the seventh spot in the latest American football odds at +2400.00, with Clemson as the current betting favorites.

2020 will definitely be a very exciting time with some of these young stars looking to breakthrough in their respective sports and show the world what they are capable of.

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Bob Baffert is back at the Kentucky Derby – and looking to break the Curse of Apollo



Bob Baffert is back at the Kentucky Derby with early favourite Justify after watching the race from his sofa in Southern California last year.

The Hall of Fame trainer’s ability to produce Derby contenders year after year is an enviable feat and why his absence a year ago stood out. It was just his second since 2009 and occurred because his lone candidate got hurt.

Baffert will saddle Justify and 30-to-1 shot Solomini in Saturday’s Derby.

Justify is one of the greenest colts Baffert has brought to Churchill Downs. He’s won all three of his starts by a combined 19 lengths. If Justify wins, he’d be the first to do so since Apollo in 1882 without racing as a two-year-old.

“The thing about the Kentucky Derby, you have to have the right horse. It just happens. You can’t force it,” Baffert said. “All of a sudden, you have good horses and you’re there. So I’ve been really fortunate to have some really good horses.”

Baffert’s four victories are tied for second-most in Derby history. He’s finished second three times, too, including in 2012 with Bodemeister, also the last time he had two starters in the same year.

Like Justify, Bodemeister didn’t race as a two-year-old. He set a blistering pace and led the Derby until the final 150 yards when I’ll Have Another overtook him to win by 1 1/2 lengths.

Magnum Moon, the 6-to-1 third choice, also is unbeaten and didn’t run as a two-year-old.

“It’s going to happen,” Baffert said, referring to the curse being broken. “Whether it happens this year or whatever, but it will happen because Bodemeister almost got away with it. But I don’t really worry about that.”

Baffert almost had a third starter this year until McKinzie developed a hind-end issue that knocked him off the Derby trail.

“When McKinzie got hurt, I wanted to throw up,” he said. “I really think McKinzie would probably be second choice here. We’d really have a 1-2 here.”

Justify cleared the biggest pre-Derby hurdle by drawing the No. 7 post. Jockey Mike Smith can use the colt’s early speed to position him well for the long run to the chaotic first turn. Solomini ended up in the No. 17 post; no horse has ever won from there.

Baffert turned 65 in January, making him eligible for Medicare and retirement at most other jobs. However, he entertains no such thoughts.

“I work hard at it. I just don’t give up,” the white-haired trainer said. “I’m constantly meeting people. They’re sending me horses. If you don’t have success, you’re not going to get those opportunities.”

After a successful run in the quarter horse ranks, Baffert switched to thoroughbreds. He started with one horse.

“After 25 years, I’m finally getting horses that I don’t have to buy,” he said. “The big guys are sending me horses.”

None was bigger than American Pharoah in 2015. The colt swept the Derby, Preakness and Belmont to become racing’s first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.

Baffert has compared Justify to American Pharoah, citing the colt’s imposing physical presence and big stride. Still, Justify has yet to encounter the kind of traffic the Derby’s 20-horse stampede creates and the talent as he’ll run against on Saturday.

“I’d rather have a really talented horse than one who’s seasoned and just on par with the rest of them,” Baffert said.

Early on, Baffert knew Justify had the goods.

“The first time I worked him at Santa Anita, I knew he was a really good horse,” he said. “The track was really deep that morning, and he went around there effortlessly. His first race, he ran incredibly and showed how special he was.”

That kind of intuition is what separates Baffert from his rivals, fellow Hall of Famer trainer D. Wayne Lukas said.

“Bob’s got a great feel for it,” he said.

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Matthews ready to return to Maple Leafs lineup after missing a month



NASHVILLE — The hurtin’ tune that Auston Matthews has been singing for the past four weeks finally can be put in the remainder bin in Music City.

The Maple Leafs’ top centre on Wednesday declared himself set to return to the lineup after recovering from a right shoulder injury.

Wonderful timing, of course, considering the Leafs will take on the No. 1 club in the National Hockey League, the Nashville Predators, on Thursday night.

“In my mind, I think I’m ready to go and taking it as I’m getting ready to play (Thursday),” Matthews said after resuming his normal role, between William Nylander and Zach Hyman, during practice at Bridgestone Arena.

“It felt good, nice to get in all the reps and everything. (Wednesday) was a good step forward in that process, going through the line rushes.”

It seemed probable that the Leafs also will have defenceman Nikita Zaitsev, who missed the past five games as he recovered from an illness, against Nashville. Zaitsev was paired with Jake Gardiner, his regular partner, at practice.

For Matthews, it has been 10 games as a spectator with his latest injury, his third of the 2017-18 regular season after he missed four games in November with a back issue and then sat for six in December because of a concussion.

Thursday will mark four weeks since Matthews was hurt when he was sandwiched by the New York Islanders’ Cal Clutterbuck and Adam Pelech in a game at the Air Canada Centre.

A major bonus for Matthews in his recovery has been the fact he has been able to skate though much of his recuperation. That was not the case when he was out with his previous two injuries.

It’s worth noting that Matthews scored two goals versus the Montreal Canadiens upon returning on Nov. 18 from his back injury; in his first two games upon coming back from a concussion, he scored a goal in each.

Mike Babcock said a final decision on the participation of Matthews and Zaitsev against the Predators would be made on Thursday morning, but the Leafs coach was talking as though it would be a rubber stamp.

“This is going to be the best opportunity for (Matthews) because he has been able to skate and compete,” Babcock said. “The other times he was not able to do anything.

“To get him back … it’s still going to be going way faster than he has been practising, so there is going to be an adjustment period, but he’s a good player and he will figure it out.”

Defenceman Morgan Rielly didn’t think Matthews will take long to find his footing. Rielly missed six games in late January/early February with an arm injury, so knows what Matthews could be feeling.

“You’re nervous and you just want to get back into it,” Rielly said. “You play your first shift a bit hesitant, but after that it’s important you get back to yourself.

“It’s never easy, but Auston is one of those guys that I will imagine it won’t take long for him to get back into a rhythm.”

And there’s the trickle-down effect through the forward lines with Matthews in uniform.

“Guys are used to playing with certain players and when everyone is healthy, I think you get better chemistry throughout the entire lineup,” centre Nazem Kadri said. “Certain guys don’t have to play with different guys constantly and it’s just more of a set group, so I think it’s going to help us.”

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