U.S. retakes edge in Canada rivalry at pre-Olympic tournament

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WESLEY CHAPEL, Fla. (AP) — The Americans showed off their special teams skills in beating Canada for the second time in three games as part of their pre-Olympic exhibition tour.

Kendall Coyne and Megan Bozek each had a goal and an assist and the U.S. beat Canada 4-2 on Wednesday night in a physical game at the Four Nations Cup.

Cayla Barnes and Alex Carpenter each had power-play goals as the Americans went 3 of 5 with the advantage. Brianna Decker had two assists, and goalie Maddie Rooney made 20 saves for her second win in two nights with the Americans trying to win this event for a third straight time and eighth overall.

“We did so many things right, it’s a great thing to build off of,” U.S. coach Robb Stauber said.

Rebecca Johnston and Meghan Agosta scored for Canada, which went 1 of 9 on the power play. The Canadians did not dress Jennifer Wakefield, who had a hat trick and an assist Tuesday night in a 9-0 win over Sweden. Coach Laura Schuler said Wakefield usually is a part of the power play, but Canada still is busy evaluating players before roster cuts for the 2018 Winter Games.

“Our special teams didn’t get the job done tonight,” Schuler said. “Our power play didn’t produce like how we would like them to, and our penalty kill at the same time wasn’t as successful as we have been in the past. I think we need to shoot more and get more pucks through.”

The Americans took the first game 5-2 in Quebec City, and Barnes was in the stands watching when Canada evened it up with a 5-1 win in Boston on Oct. 25.

Since the Canadians rallied to win the 2014 Olympic gold medal 3-2 in overtime, the Americans have been on a tear winning five of six international events and now 10 of 13 games overall against their rivals. They are poised to meet again Sunday in the cup championship.

Rooney from Andover, Minnesota, has been in net for both wins over Canada.

“Maddie played really well for them I thought,” Schuler said. “At the same time, I thought we missed a lot of opportunities, missed the net when we had some pretty good chances. Obviously, that affected the outcome of the game.”

Barnes, the youngest player on the U.S. roster at 18, was only called up Oct. 28 and withdrew from Boston College to chase an Olympic berth. She scored in the first period of Tuesday night’s 8-2 win over Finland and scored her second goal in as many nights at 15:03 of the first skating into the left edge of the right circle to beat goalie Ann-Renee Desbiens for a 1-0 lead.

Bozek, who didn’t dress against Finland, made it a 2-0 lead with a slap shot at 17:50 of the first.

The Canadians answered by taking the first seven shots and outshooting the United States 15-9 in the second. Johnston got Canada on the board with a power-play goal 3:07 into the second. That was the only time Canada made the Americans pay for being short-handed in a game with lots of shoving between teams that know each other so well.

The United States went up 3-1 when Coyne scored a power-play goal off a rebound 50 seconds into the third. Agosta pulled Canada within 3-2 with 4:29 left on a short-handed goal, but Carpenter answered with the Americans’ third power-play goal from the left circle 36 seconds later.

In the other game Wednesday, Linda Valimaki scored the game-winner as Finland rallied with three goals in the third period to beat Sweden 3-1. Finland will play Canada on Friday followed by the United States and Sweden.

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Asher Hong leads U.S. men’s gymnastics world team selection camp after first day

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Asher Hong, 18, posted the highest all-around score on the first of two days of competition at the U.S. men’s gymnastics selection camp to determine the last three spots on the team for the world championships that start in three weeks.

Hong, bidding to become the youngest U.S. man to compete at worlds since Danell Leyva in 2009, totaled 84.6 points in Colorado Springs. He edged Colt Walker by one tenth. Tokyo Olympians Shane Wiskus (84.15) and Yul Moldauer (83.95) were next. Full apparatus-by-apparatus scores are here.

Brody Malone, who repeated as U.S. all-around champion at August’s national championships, and runner-up Donnell Whittenburg already clinched spots on the five-man team for worlds in Liverpool, Great Britain. They did not compete Monday, though their results from the first day of nationals are shown in the official scores.

The three remaining team spots will not necessarily go to the top three all-arounders at this week’s camp, which is supposed to be weighed equally with results from August’s nationals. Hong was third at nationals, but if excluding difficulty bonus points from that meet that will not be considered by the committee, would have finished behind Walker and Moldauer in August.

A selection committee is expected to announce the team soon after the second and final day of selection camp competition on Wednesday evening. The committee will look at overall scoring potential for the world team final, where three men go per apparatus, and medal potential in individual events.

Stephen Nedoroscik, who last year became the first American to win a world title on the pommel horse, is trying to make the team solely on that apparatus. He wasn’t at his best at nationals and struggled again on Monday, hurting his chances of displacing an all-arounder for one of the last three spots.

The U.S. has reason to emphasize the team event over individual medals at this year’s worlds. It will clinch an Olympic berth by finishing in the top three, and its medal hopes are boosted by the absence of the Russians who won the Olympic team title. All gymnasts from Belarus and Russia are banned indefinitely from international competition due to the war in Ukraine.

In recent years, the U.S. has been among the nations in the second tier behind China, Japan and Russia, including in Tokyo, where the Americans were fifth.

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Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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