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At last, pro women’s hockey arrives in Atlantic Canada with PWHPA Dream Gap Tour – Sportsnet.ca

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Atlantic Canada is about to host professional women’s hockey for the first time, and Montreal forward Ann-Sophie Bettez sums up the feeling ahead of the historic games perfectly: “We seriously can’t wait.”

The 2021-22 PWHPA Dream Gap Tour season is kicking off this weekend in Truro, NS., featuring some of the best players in the world who’ll go head-to-head in a four-game tournament over two days.

And as excited as Bettez and her fellow PWHPA members are to get back on the ice and officially kick off this Dream Gap Tour season, the hosts are equally pumped. All four games will be played at the Rath Eastlink Community Centre, which was set to co-host the 2020 IIHF Women’s World Championships, but was then cancelled because of the pandemic. Truro was again set to co-host the 2021 Worlds, which were again cancelled in Nova Scotia and later played in Calgary, also due to public health concerns.

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“They’re super excited to get women’s hockey there,” said PWHPA Operations Consultant and Hall of Famer, Jayna Hefford, who worked with the local organizing committee from the World Championships to help bring the PWHPA out east. “They were all devastated, much like all of us, when the Worlds got cancelled. We’re in a great facility in Truro where the Worlds would’ve been, and there’ll be all the infrastructure and resources and people and volunteers behind it that you would see at an event like that. For us it’s a priority to provide that sort of professional event for the players.”

“I know the fans are going to be really excited to have us over there to see some competitive women’s hockey,” added Bettez, who played a handful of times on the east coast while she was a member of Team Canada. “It’s definitely a hockey crowd.”

Team Canada’s Ann-Sophie Bettez celebrates a goal on Team USA’s Aerin Frankel in second period Rivalry Series women’s hockey action in Moncton, N.B. on Tuesday, Dec.17, 2019. (Andrew Vaughan/CP)



For players — teams from Montreal, Toronto, Calgary and Boston — it marks the first time since last May that they’ve played in a Dream Gap Tour showcase.

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“I almost don’t remember what it’s like to have the thrill of being there two hours before a game, doing an off-ice warmup, all those things,” said Bettez, who won the season-ending championship back in May, with Montreal. “I’m really excited to be able to share that with the group of Montreal girls.”

The series kicks off on Friday, Nov. 12, when Calgary faces Boston at 3 p.m. local time (AST), and Montreal takes on Toronto at 7 p.m. The winners of each game will face off in the championship the next day, while the losers will play a consolation game. All four games are available on CBCsports.ca.

“Winning that first game is key,” Bettez said. “I’m pretty confident to go out there with the group of girls that we have.”

It’s a different look for the defending champs from Montreal, and for all five PWHPA teams this year (Minnesota is the fifth, and won’t play this coming weekend). The PWHPA’s 100-or-so player membership doesn’t include national team members, since they’re centralized with their teams ahead of the 2022 Olympics. You won’t see, say, Marie-Philip Poulin, lighting it up with Montreal this season.

“Sometimes that’s the knock, ‘Oh, you don’t have those star players anymore.’ I think people will be really surprised at the quality of play,” said Hefford, who points out the organization retained all its players who don’t play for their national teams from last season’s PWHPA rosters. “We have a ton of depth across the association and we’re really excited for people to see how good the hockey is. We have a lot of players that have played with their national teams at one point or another.” This includes Bettez, Loren Gabel, Brigette Lacquette and Laura Fortino, who all played for Canada at the 2019 world championships.

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Canada defence Laura Fortino passes the puck during second period of 2018 Four Nations Cup preliminary game against Finland, in Saskatoon, Friday, Nov. 9, 2018. (Liam Richards/CP)



Next up on the Dream Gap Tour is a showcase in Toronto, from Dec. 18-19, in partnership with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Minnesota, Montreal, Calgary and Toronto will take part, with the championship game taking place on the 19th at Scotiabank Arena. The PWHPA hasn’t yet announced other Dream Gap Tour events, but Hefford says to expect one per month in each of January, February and March. A PWHPA all-star team will also be playing against national teams in the lead-up to the Olympics.

The winner of the championship game this weekend in Truro — and this is the case for the champions of each stop on the Dream Gap Tour — earns what Hefford calls “cash prize pots.” She won’t disclose how much is in a pot for the winning team (Secret, the title sponsor, provides it, and, well, it’s a secret), but for players who don’t earn salaries, that’s a coveted pot.

“We’d like to be able to give the players salaries, and that’s what we’re trying to fix and work on,” Hefford said. “Our goal is to ensure that when the players are at events, they’re treated in a professional way, even if they’re not paid in a professional way, and making sure that the experience is really great.”

Bettez, the 34-year-old who also works as a financial planner, echoes that thought about a future where players can focus on playing. For now, she’s looking forward to getting back on the ice, and not just for practice.

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“We played a few games recently against university teams, but really, to play against the best talent that there is right now?” she said. “That’s what it’s all about.”



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Aaron Rodgers to the Jets? Giants' free agency options & Mike McCarthy's future with Cowboys | Ask Jay Glazer

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Jay Glazer discussed whether Green Bay Packers QB Aaron Rodgers will head to the New York Jets, the New York Giants’ free agency options, and breaks down Mike McCarthy’s future with the Dallas Cowboys.



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Super Bowl LVII: Chiefs and Eagles will meet for title in Arizona

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Patrick Mahomes finally got the best of Joe Burrow. 

All he needed was a little shove.

Harrison Butker made a 45-yard field goal with 3 seconds left — after Cincinnati’s Joseph Ossai was flagged for a 15-yard penalty for shoving Mahomes after he was out of bounds — and the Chiefs beat the Bengals 23-20 in the AFC championship game to make it back to the Super Bowl.

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Kansas City will face the Philadelphia Eagles in the Super Bowl on Feb. 12 in Glendale, Arizona. 

The Eagles opened as a 1 1/2-point favourite, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.

There are no shortage of storylines: Kansas City coach Andy Reid goes against his old team — which he led to Super Bowl 39 — in a game that’s also the first matchup of Black starting quarterbacks in the Super Bowl with Mahomes and Philadelphia’s Jalen Hurts. 

On top of that, there’s a brother-against-brother showdown between Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce and Philadelphia center Jason Kelce.

“Officially done being a Chiefs fan this season!! ” Jason Kelce tweeted immediately after the Chiefs won.

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The Chiefs have been making deep postseason runs on a regular basis ever since Mahomes came to town as the franchise quarterback. 

This was their fifth straight trip to the AFC title game and will be their third Super Bowl appearance in that span. They beat the 49ers for the NFL title in the 2019 season, but lost to the Bucs the following season.

The Eagles clobbered the Niners 31-7 in the NFC title game earlier Sunday. They’ve looked dominant in the playoffs so far, also beating the New York Giants 38-7 in the divisional round.

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Philadelphia is back in the Super Bowl five years after beating the New England Patriots 41-33 on Feb. 4, 2018. 

Now a mostly new generation of Eagles — led by coach Nick Sirianni and Hurts — will come to Arizona to try and win another title.

The Chiefs-Bengals game looked as if it was going to overtime before Ossai’s ill-advised play. Mahomes — who was playing on a badly sprained ankle — was running to get a first down in the final seconds as Ossai desperately tried to track him down. 

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Mahomes was out of bounds when Ossai gave him a shove, sending both players tumbling to the turf. The ensuing 15-yard penalty was enough to push Butker into field-goal range and the kick split the uprights.

A distraught Ossai sat on the bench with his head in his hands, well after the game was over.

The Bengals and Chiefs were playing for the fourth time in less than 400 days and Cincinnati had won the previous three meetings — all by three points. This one was decided by a field goal, too, and all Burrow could do was watch.

The Bengals lost to the Rams in last year’s Super Bowl and they just missed another chance at returning to the title game.

NO DRAMA IN NFC

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Oddsmakers thought fans were in for some close conference championship games. 

They’ll have to settle for a 50% success rate.

The NFC title game was a blowout. Niners rookie quarterback Brock Purdy was injured in the first quarter when Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick drilled his right arm on a play that was ruled a fumble. The Eagles recovered that fumble and the injury proved to be a game-changer.

With Purdy hurt, San Francisco turned to 36-year-old journeyman Josh Johnson, who couldn’t do much before eventually leaving with a concussion. Purdy came back into the game, but could barely throw, and the Eagles cruised to the win.

The 49ers dealt with quarterback injuries all season, losing Trey Lance and Jimmy Garoppolo before turning to Purdy, a seventh-round draft pick out of Iowa State. Purdy stepped into a starter’s role in December and won his first seven games before Sunday’s injury. 

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Here’s a few things to know about the upcoming Super Bowl:

WHAT’S THE UPCOMING SCHEDULE?

FEB. 5

Pro Bowl flag-football game, 3 p.m. EST, ABC/ESPN

FEB. 12

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Super Bowl LVII, Philadelphia Eagles vs. Kansas City Chiefs, 6:30 p.m. EST, Fox

RIHANNA AT HALFTIME

Rihanna will take center stage as the headline act for this year’s Super Bowl halftime show.

With sales of more than 250 million records worldwide, Rihanna ranks as one of the best-selling female artists ever. Her most recent album was 2016′s “Anti.” Rihanna last performed publicly at the Grammy Awards in 2018.

The singer said she turned down a similar opportunity for the 2019 Super Bowl that was ultimately headlined by Maroon 5. At the time, many artists voiced support for Colin Kaepernick, the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback who protested police brutality against Black people and minorities by kneeling during the national anthem in 2016.

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Country music star Chris Stapleton will sing the national anthem, while R&B legend Babyface will perform “America the Beautiful.” 

PRO BOWL MAKEOVER

The Pro Bowl is getting a major makeover this year after the NFL eliminated its full-contact all-star game and replaced it with weeklong skills competitions and a flag football game.

The flag football contest is Feb. 5 in Las Vegas at Allegiant Stadium, one week before the Super Bowl.

The Pro Bowl debuted in January 1951 in Los Angeles and stayed there for 21 seasons before the game moved to different cities from 1972-80. Hawaii hosted from 1980-2009, and the game has had several homes in the years since, including Miami, Phoenix, Orlando and Las Vegas.

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“The game was kind of silly, I guess,” Saints two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman Ryan Ramczyk said back in September when the news was announced. “Guys weren’t out there playing true football. Hopefully, there’ll be a lot of interactions with the fans and guys will get their opportunity to go out there and show some skills. I could see that being a good change.”

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Ohio State hires James Laurinaitis & Tennessee extends Huepel's contract | Joel Klatt Show

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Joel Klatt discussed Ohio State Buckeyes hiring former linebacker James Laurinaitis as a defensive GA. Joel believes that Laurinaitis can help transform the defense into a powerhouse like the offense is for wide receivers. He then discussed the Tennessee Volunteers giving Josh Huepel a contract extension after their 11-win season.



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