HIGH ACHIEVERS: Stay-Safe Edition
Keeping Local Sport Spirit High During the Pandemic
By Martin Cleary
WEEKEND WRAP: When Canada and the United States clash in sports, the games are usually tight with plenty of tension. Women’s and men’s hockey are prime examples. But we certainly can’t forget para hockey.
The North American para hockey rivals met for the 103rd time Saturday in the final of the Para Hockey World Championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic. But this gold-medal game was anything but a classic. One stat fully supports that statement.
Canada entered the final with an unblemished record of 3-0 in Group A pool action, and also had a 2-1 semi-final decision over high-scoring Russia. During the preliminary round, Canada defeated its southern neighbour 2-1.
But in the final, the Americans overwhelmed the Canadians 5-1, unleashing 39 shots on goaltender Dominic Larocque, who made 35 saves. In sharp contrast, American goalie Steve Cash saw only one shot during the entire 45-minute, three-period game, and didn’t make the save.
Veteran Billy Bridges fired the shot and scored a power-play goal, reducing the American lead to 2-1.
Not only did Canada finish the worlds with the silver medal, but also it qualified for the 2022 Paralympic Games in Beijing. Canada hasn’t won the world title since 2017. The Americans won a record-extending fifth title.
Canada, which had two Ottawa-Gatineau players on its roster, still holds the overall advantage in its series of para hockey games against the United States – 58-44-1.
Forward Anton Jacobs-Webb of Gatineau counted one goal and added two assists in five games for Canada. Defenceman Tyrone Henry of Ottawa played well in his zone as Canada only allowed two goals entering the final.
OTTAWA ATHLETES HIT PODIUM AT TRACK TRIALS
Meanwhile, the Ottawa Lions sent one of its smallest teams ever to the Canadian track and field championships and Olympic trials in Montreal due to the down-sized pandemic meet.
Melissa Bishop-Nriagu of Eganville, ON., who had earlier met the Olympic criteria in the women’s 800 metres, matched the time standard of 1:59.50 to place second behind Lindsey Butterworth (1:59.15).
“I think it was good,” Bishop-Nriagu, who front-ran as race leader until the last few steps, told the Lions’ website. “The (rainy) conditions really cleared up for us and I already have the Olympic standard, so this was an opportunity for me to get out and try something new and we did.”
The Lions’ Stephen Evans posted his best finish at the national championships, when he finished fourth in the men’s 800 metres in 1:50.23, which was slightly off his season-best time of 1:49.47.
Ottawa-based Farah Jacques was third in the wet women’s 100-metre hurdles in 13.44.
Ottawa native Alicia Brown was a double winner, taking the women’s 400 metres in 51.96 and running the second leg for the Canada A team in the mixed 4×400-metre relay (3:17.31).
In the women’s 100-metre final, Ottawa’s Shyvonne Roxborough of Royal City Athletics was third, 11.48, while Audrey Leduc of Gatineau took fifth, 11.73.
Carleton Raven Telvin Tavernier placed third in the men’s decathlon, while Ottawa’s Kevin Robertson of Saint-Laurent Select was fifth in the men’s 1,500 metres.
Running her first race in two seasons, Royal City Athletics’ Keegan Gaunt of Ottawa won the women’s T13 para 1,500 metres in a Canadian record 4:57.54. The former record of 5:16.20 was set by Norah Good of Ottawa in 1984.
SWIMMER BAILEY ANDISON AN OLYMPIAN
On the final two days of the Canadian Olympic swimming trials, Ottawa and area athletes won one gold, one silver and two bronze medals, and also earned one berth on the national team for the Tokyo Summer Games.
Perth Stingrays’ Bailey Andison was third in the final-day 400-metre individual medley in 4:38.66, just missing the Olympic A standard of 4:38.53. But her bronze-medal effort and A-standard 2:10.48 in the 200 IM put her on the Olympic team.
Ottawa’s Eli Wall of Toronto Swim Club won the men’s 200-metre breaststroke in 2:12.16 and Greater Ottawa Kingfish’s Montana Champagne was second in the men’s 200-metre butterfly in 1:59.34, but their times exceeded the Olympic criteria.
Freestyle swimmer Alyson Ackman of Pembroke, ON., finished her five-race trials by placing third in the women’s 1,500-metre timed final in 16:46.32. Earlier, she won the 400-metre freestyle and was third over 800 metres.
ROLLERCOASTER TOUR START FOR CYCLIST MICHAEL WOODS
Ottawa cyclist Michael Woods has had an up and down start to his second Tour de France, but there have been more down moments than ups, after the first three days of the three-week marathon.
Seven of Israel Start-Up Nation’s eight riders were involved in opening-day crashes Saturday, which left Woods in 154th and 8:49 behind the leader. Woods, who sustained hand and arm cuts, was quickly knocked out of contention for a high General Classification result.
On Sunday, he rebounded and finished 11th overall to pick up six points and was 31st in the Green Jersey standings. A disappointing Monday, however, left Woods 125th, but he and his teammates avoided crashes. Woods moved up one GC spot to 91st.
Martin Cleary has written about amateur sports for 48 years. A past Canadian sportswriter of the year and Ottawa Sports Awards Lifetime Achievement in Sport Media honouree, Martin retired from full-time work at the Ottawa Citizen in 2012, but continued to write a bi-weekly “High Achievers” column for the Citizen/Sun.
When the pandemic struck, Martin created the “Stay-Safe Edition” to provide some positive news during tough times, via his Twitter account at first and now here at OttawaSportsPages.ca.
Martin can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com and on Twitter @martincleary.
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