The Sports Report: Canada beats U.S. for women’s hockey gold
Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.
Helene Elliott on the Winter Olympics: Lifting an already remarkable rivalry to an even higher level of skill and emotion, Canada’s women’s hockey team used its powerful offense to earn a gold medal victory over its U.S. counterpart.
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Marie-Philip Poulin cemented her reputation as a clutch player by scoring twice as Canada defeated the U.S. 3-2 on Thursday at Wukesong Arena, ending the Americans’ reign as Olympic champions.
The U.S. and Canada have met in six of the seven Olympic gold medal games played since women’s hockey was added in 1998. Canada has won four of those meetings and also prevailed over Sweden in the 2006 gold medal game. The U.S. has won gold in 1998 and 2018.
Hilary Knight scored the first goal for the U.S., a second-effort shorthanded goal in the second period. By playing in the 22nd Olympic contest of her career she became the leader in games played in U.S. women’s hockey history. Jenny Potter and Angela Ruggiero shared the previous record of 21.
Amanda Kessel scored the second goal for the U.S., prodding the puck under the pad of Canada goaltender Ann-Renee Desbiens with 13.5 seconds left and the U.S. having a two-player advantage while on a power play and after having pulled goalie Alex Cavallini for an extra skater. However, the U.S. couldn’t pull even despite a late frantic push.
The Americans had nearly scored early in the game, when Hannah Brandt found space on the left side and had a clear shot at Desbiens, but Brandt’s attempt hit the left post and caromed away.
Canada had an apparent goal wiped out at 7:15 on a clear offside violation, but the team continued to apply pressure in the U.S. defensive zone and soon was rewarded. Canada won a faceoff to the right of Cavallini and got the puck to standout defenseman Claire Thompson, who somehow found the stick of Sarah Nurse in front of the net. Nurse’s redirection got past Cavallini at 7:50.
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From Stephanie Yang: In one Winter Olympics sweep, Eileen Gu has solidified her place as one of the biggest sports stars in the world, not to mention one of the most politically divisive.
The California native has won two medals competing for China and is going for a third in the women’s freestyle skiing halfpipe on Friday, known to be her best event. But Gu’s success comes in tandem with a highly controversial Winter Games and an increasingly strained relationship between China and the U.S., directly challenging her insistence that sports, and her skiing career, are apolitical.
Gu, 18, has posted win after win in international competition ahead of the Olympics. She’s currently one of the most visible athletes in China and beyond, having appeared in fashion magazines and represented Chinese and American brands including Red Bull, Louis Vuitton and JD.com.
In her Olympic debut, Gu vaulted ahead of her competitors in the final run of the women’s freestyle skiing big air with a double 1620, cinching gold with a trick she had never performed in competition or practice. She made another last-minute comeback in her second event, snagging silver in slopestyle and finishing less than a point short of first place.
As her profile has risen, Gu has confronted questions that put her on the spot in the growing U.S.-China divide. Reporters asked for her comments on Chinese tennis star Peng Shuai, who accused a high-ranking Chinese official of sexual assault on social media then vanished from public view. Her disappearance fueled concern about her well-being and renewed calls for the U.S. to boycott the Olympics. Peng later denied making the accusation, and was seen attending Gu’s first Olympic event.
“I’m really grateful that she’s, yeah, happy and healthy and out here doing her thing,” Gu said of Peng.
Gu was also asked to address a flood of online scorn toward Olympic figure skater Zhu Yi, another U.S.-born athlete competing for China who fell during an earlier performance. As Chinese viewers attacked her for her background as well as her mistake, Zhu became another symbol of the baggage that comes with being caught between the two superpowers. Gu praised Zhu’s abilities and added “mistakes and pressure are all a part of sports.”
It’s not unusual for an athlete to be born in one country then make the decision to compete under another flag. But China does not recognize dual nationality for Chinese citizens, and Gu’s decision has come under particularly intense scrutiny. Reporters have repeatedly questioned whether she still holds U.S. citizenship, their interest heightened by Gu’s evasive answers.
Beijing Olympics live: Latest news and results from the 24th Winter Games
From Broderick Turner: Lakers center Anthony Davis rolled his right ankle late in the second quarter Wednesday night against the Utah Jazz and had to be helped off the Cyrpto.com Arena court by teammates.
The Lakers said Davis had a sprained right ankle, and that X-rays were negative for a fracture.
The Lakers said Davis will get treatment on the ankle over the All-Star break that starts Thursday for the team and that he’ll be reevaluated when the team returns. The Lakers’ first game after this weekend’s All-Star break is on Feb. 25, a home game against the Clippers. On Wednesday, the Lakers regrouped to rally for a 106-101 victory. They used a 24-9 run to end the game to win it
On the play he was injured, Davis went up to catch a lob from Malik Monk. Davis caught the ball and came down on the heel of Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert.
Dylan Hernández on the Rams: Here, in the birthplace of Donald Duck, in a city that reviles Donald Trump, he has become the greatest Donald of all.
Aaron Donald, the three-time defensive player of the year and seven-time All-Pro, is finally a Super Bowl champion. The Rams’ defensive tackle celebrated the new designation by discarding his shirt, which is how he ended up bare-chested on a stage by the Coliseum peristyle on Wednesday.
“I’ve been having a little fun tonight”— it was actually midday — “so if I slur my words I apologize,” Donald said with a warm smile.
With his best player in a state of euphoric apparent inebriation, Sean McVay saw an opening. The coach slid by his players to reach the front of the stage.
Moments after Donald raised the Vince Lombardi Trophy and instructed the fans who attended the Rams’ championship parade to “drink as much as we do tonight,” emcee J.B. Long asked the question that was on everyone’s mind.
“Aaron,” Long said, “Sean McVay just tapped me on the shoulder. He wanted to know if you’re interested in running it back.”
McVay held a red cup in one hand. With his other, he snatched Long’s microphone and shouted into it, “Run it back! Run it back! Run it back!”
Donald doubled over with laughter.
“We built a super team,” Donald said. “We could bring the super team back. Why not run it back? We could be world champs again.”
The booze-infused phrase “run it back” is bound to be the team’s slogan next season.
McVay was also the subject of retirement speculation, especially after speaking of burnout while the New York Post was reporting he could make upwards of $10 million annually as a broadcaster. “We’ll see,” he told The Times on Monday when asked if he would return to coach the Rams next season.
Would McVay have started a “run it back” chant if he didn’t intend to come back? Probably not.
Rams fans celebrate Super Bowl champions at victory parade in L.A.
Photos: L.A. Rams fans celebrate at their first Super Bowl parade
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UCLA outscored Oregon 24-14 in the third quarter to cut a 20-point halftime deficit in half, but the Bruins were unable to get any closer than eight, as the Ducks closed strong in the fourth, claiming a 67-53 non-conference victory.
Charisma Osborne and Dominique Onu each scored game-highs of 16 points.
From Jack Harris: For a brief moment before the start of Tuesday night’s game, Drew Doughty allowed himself to indulge in nostalgic celebration.
Though more than two weeks had passed since the Kings defenseman eclipsed his career 1,000-game milestone during a trip last month, Tuesday was the first time the team had played at home since resuming its season after a 13-day layoff around the All-Star break.
The club honored the 32-year-old assistant captain with a pregame center-ice ceremony, serenading Doughty with an address from radio broadcaster Nick Nickson (“The only thing missing from his Hall of Fame resume,” Nickson quipped, “are his two front teeth”), a video board tribute featuring current and former teammates, and a custom painting the club had commissioned from an artist in Doughty’s hometown in Canada.
When it was finally Doughty’s turn to speak, his address was predictably succinct.
He thanked his family, coaches and teammates — and, jokingly, even the visiting Edmonton Oilers as they waited on their bench during the 10-minute ceremony. He praised the fans, who bellowed “Dreeeeeeewwwwww!” in a rapturous response. And then, he finished his speech with a simple wish, turning his attention back to the urgent quest for a playoff berth.
“That’s all I got, thank you, guys, and let’s get a win.”
Elias Lindholm scored twice and added an assist, extending his goal streak to six games as the Calgary Flames beat the Ducks 6-2 for their eighth straight victory.
For the Pacific Division-leading Flames, it’s their longest winning streak since rattling off 10 in a row in 2016-17, which is tied for the franchise record. They’ve outscored their opponents 37-13 during the streak.
Dillon Dube, Andrew Mangiapane, Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk also scored for Calgary (28-13-6). Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson had a career-best three points with three assists.
Gaudreau, who also had two assists, and Lindholm both pushed their point streaks to eight games.
ERIC KAY TRIAL
From Jorge Castillo: Eric Kay’s defense rested its case in U.S. District Court on Wednesday afternoon without Kay taking the stand to testify.
Kay, the former Angels communication director, has been charged with giving pitcher Tyler Skaggs the drugs that led to his death in his room at the Hilton Dallas/Southlake Town Square on July 1, 2019.
The defense started and rested its case Wednesday by calling six witnesses to testify. Three were former Angels players: Andrelton Simmons, Trevor Cahill and Blake Parker. Kay watched from his seat at the end of a table opposite the witness stand, where he’s been situated for the trial’s first seven days next to his attorney Michael Molfetta.
Closing arguments are scheduled to begin Thursday morning. Judge Terry R. Means said he will afford 45 minutes each to the prosecution and defense. The prosecution will go first, the defense will follow, and the prosecution will be given a chance for a rebuttal with any of its allotted time remaining before the jury deliberates.
From Mike DiGiovanna: Tiger Woods stepped gingerly off the dais in the media room of the Riviera Country Club on Wednesday, being sure not to put too much weight on the surgically repaired right leg that he nearly lost — along with his life — in a single-car accident on the Palos Verdes Peninsula one year ago.
“It’s altered,” Woods, 46, said, when asked to describe the structure of the leg. “My right leg does not look like my left, put it that way. But I’m very lucky. I didn’t know if I was gonna have the right leg or not, so to be able to have my right leg still there, it’s huge.”
A 15-time major winner and golf’s biggest star, Woods endured “countless surgeries and rehabs and [physical therapy] sessions,” and was strong enough to play in the two-day PNC Challenge with his 12-year-old son, Charlie, in December, fueling speculation he was inching closer to a return.
But Woods, who is serving as the host for the Genesis Invitational that starts Thursday, used a golf cart at the PNC event and still appears months away from playing competitive golf.
“I wish I could tell you when I’m playing again — I want to know, but I don’t,” Woods said. “My golf activity has been very limited. I can chip and putt really well and hit short irons very well, but I haven’t done any long stuff seriously. I’m still working on the walking part. It takes time. What’s frustrating is it’s not at my timetable. I want to be at a certain place, but I’m not.”
From Kevin Baxter: Ashley Hatch’s first call-up to the women’s national soccer team came in 2016 and ended with her playing the final 16 minutes of a 4-0 win over Switzerland.
For most of the next five years, she sat by her phone hoping for another call. When that wait proved to be mostly in vain, Hatch prepared to move on.
“Maybe it’s not in the cards for me,” she concluded. “I kind of made the decision that being on the national team or not being on the national team was not going to dictate who I am as a player. I had to make that conscious decision.”
Which is when the phone rang again. A call-up for a pair of friendlies last November resulted in Hatch’s first two international starts and her first two international goals, earning her an invitation to join the team for the SheBelieves Cup, which kicks off Thursday at Dignity Health Sports Park.
Iceland faces New Zealand in the tournament opener, followed by the U.S.vs. the Czech Republic.
For Hatch, a forward, the SheBelieves audition marks her first real chance to win a recurring role with the national team. Missing from the roster are the four most experienced U.S. forwards — Megan Rapinoe, Alex Morgan, Tobin Heath and Christen Press — making the weeklong competition something of a tryout for Sophia Smith, Margaret Purce, Trinity Rodman and Hatch.
THIS DATE IN SPORTS
1923 — Cy Denneny of the Ottawa Senators becomes the NHL’s career scoring leader. He scores his 143rd goal to surpass Joe Malone in a 2-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens.
1924 — Johnny Weissmuller sets a world record in the 100-yard freestyle swim with a time of 52.4 seconds.
1926 — Suzanne Lenglen beats Helen Wills 6-3, 8-6 in Cannes, France, in their only tennis match against each other.
1928 — Sweden’s Gillis Grafstrom successfully defends his 1920 and 1924 Olympic figure skating title, with Austrian Willy Bockl finishing in second place as he did four years earlier.
1941 — Joe Louis knocks out Gus Dorazio in the second round in Philadelphia to defend his world heavyweight title.
1955 — Mike Souchak establishes the PGA 72-hole scoring record with a 257 at the Texas Open. Souchak starts with a record-tying 60 at San Antonio’s Brackenridge Park course and ends with a 27-under-par, beating the previous low for a 72-hole event by two shots.
1968 — The Basketball Hall of Fame opens in Springfield, Mass.
1974 — Richard Petty wins his second straight Daytona 500. It’s the fifth Daytona 500 title for Petty, who also won in 1964, 1966, 1971 and 1973.
1992 — Raisa Smetanina wins a gold medal with the Unified Team in the 20-kilometer cross-country relay to set the career Winter Olympics medal record with 10. Smetanina, 39, also becomes the oldest champion and the first to win a medal in five straight Winter Games.
1994 — San Antonio’s David Robinson records the fourth quadruple-double in NBA history with 34 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists and 10 blocks in the Spurs’ 115-96 win over Detroit.
1998 — The U.S. women’s hockey team wins the sport’s first Olympic gold medal. Sandra Whyte scores on an empty-netter with 8 seconds left to give the United States a 3-1 victory over Canada.
2010 — Americans Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso finish 1-2 in the downhill at the Vancouver Olympics. It’s the first time since 1984 that the U.S won gold and silver in a women’s Alpine event.
2013 — Danica Patrick wins the Daytona 500 pole, becoming the first woman to secure the top spot for any Sprint Cup race.
2014 — Meryl Davis and Charlie White win the gold medal in ice dance, the first Olympic title in the event for the U.S..
2018 — Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu becomes the first man to successfully defend his Olympic figure skating title since Dick Button in 1952.
Supplied by the Associated Press
The U.S. women’s hockey team wins gold in 1998. Watch and listen here.
Until next time...
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