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The Clemente award is given annually to a  
By krstking2 on Jun 26, 2014 07:33 AM
SOCHI, Russia – The Canadians had to hurl nearly 60 shots at the Latvian goal to scratch their way into a semifinal matchup with the Americans, but by the time it was over head coach Mike Babcock was convinced the experience would be beneficial, much as it was four years earlier. Cheap NFL Jerseys . "Did I want to win 7-1? Absolutely,” said Babcock after a nervous 2-1 win in the quarter-finals against Latvia. “Do I think its better for my team that we won the way we did? For sure." It took every bit of mustard his team could find to finally get past the unlikely challengers from Latvia – a team they had never lost to in either the Olympics or World Championships – and avert disaster. Kristers Gudlevskis, an unheralded 21-year-old draft pick in executive director Steve Yzermans Tampa Bay Lightning organization, stopped 55 shots and held the Canadians to just a single goal for the first 53 minutes of regulation. Patience was tested and tested again and again with every chance, opportunity and flurry squashed by the apparent back-up Latvian netminder, starting with a Sidney Crosby breakaway in the opening moments and continuing right on through the rest of the night. "Obviously when youre talking about 10 minutes left in the third and you look up and youve got 50-some-odd shots you dont want it to be one of those nights," said Crosby after the win. "I think that you just try to trust that eventually those chances will go in, stick with it." Patrick Sharp became just the fourth Canadian forward to score, his first goal in the middle frame matched minutes later on a mildly shocking Lauris Darzins breakaway. From there the Gudlevkis show rolled on in ever-surprising fashion, some of the most gifted offensive talents on the planet stonewalled by a goaltender who was starting for the American Hockey Leagues Syracuse Crunch as recently as Feb. 5. There was the stop on Jeff Carter in alone in the second period, a blocker save on Rick Nash in the third, a jam attempt by Chris Kunitz just a few minutes later. For a forward contingent struggling to score these were familiar troubles building in a game that Canada had no business not winning. "If you look at tonight besides picking the puck up and throwing it in the net what could you tell someone to do in those situations," said Crosby, who still has yet to score in this tournament. "We had some great chances. Youre getting chances like that theres not a lot you would change. Its not like you were going in there adjusting and trying to figure something out. I think its just the ultimate test of your patience when youre getting chances like that and you need to find a way to score." Its ultimately that persistence and push through the wall of a hot goaltender that Babcock believes will benefit his team moving into a 2010 gold medal game re-match with the Americans on Friday. Though they had only mild difficulties against Norway and Austria, the Canadians really only faced a stiff test from Finland in the final game of the preliminary round, a tilt they scratched out in overtime on the second of two goals from Drew Doughty. On this night it was another defenceman proving the hero. Shea Weber fired a cannon past Gudlevskis with less than seven minutes remaining in regulation, easing the nerves of a tense nation on the other side of the globe. "We just talked about the hockey gods," Babcock said. "You just keep doing things right, youre going to be rewarded. We had some chances. So we just thought if we kept doing it, wed get our chances, wed get a break, wed score a goal." Though they inched closer to it in the close win over Latvia, Canada has yet to truly resemble the powerhouse it was expected to be here in Sochi. But they have, true to Babcocks word, gotten better with each day gone by. They enter the semifinal, however, as an unlikely underdog, squaring off against an American squad thats stomped all of its competition here in Sochi. With the hottest player on the planet in Phil Kessel – who has nearly as many goals here in Russia (five) as the entire Canadian forward group (six) – and a battle-tested Jonathan Quick between the pipes, the U.S. has the look of a favourite in what should be an enticing rematch of the gold medal game in Vancouver. "Its what its all about," said Jonathan Toews of the matchup. "Canada-USA, I think has become a bigger rivalry than Canada-Russia. Theres a lot of animosity, lot of feelings like theres something to prove between both teams. Its for the chance to go play for a gold medal. It doesnt get any better than that." It took a few bumps and a similar crescendo for Canada to top the U.S. in Vancouver in 2010. There were familiar stumbles along the way – including a preliminary round loss to the U.S. – but ultimately, the Canadians got their game together as the tournament stretched on, dominating the Russians in the quarter-final before edging the Slovaks and Americans en route to gold. Babcock is mindful of that path when he looks at the winding road thus far in 2014. "The Olympic Games isnt supposed to be easy,” he said. “They dont just give the medals out. You earn the medals. Now wed like to put ourselves in a situation to compete for one and we have another day to prepare [on Thursday]." Cheap Jerseys Wholesale . -- Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston has no plans to stop being a two-sport man. Wholesale NFL Jerseys . The game was the final in the season series with the Wild winning four of five. It was the Jets 45th one-goal game of the season. Jim Slater played his 500th NHL game. Jets were minus Andrew Ladd, who is day to day, and Dustin Byfuglien, done for the season with a muscle tear.ST. LOUIS -- David Ortiz would prefer to remain with the Boston Red Sox. Following an unprecedented September collapse, manager Terry Francona left, general manager Theo Epstein is on the verge of quitting to take a job with the Cubs and the team is in turmoil after media reports that pitchers drank beer and ate fried chicken in the clubhouse during games. "You guys know it all, already. I dont have to add anything," Ortiz told reporters Thursday night after receiving baseballs Roberto Clemente Award at the World Series. "Im there every day, but I do what Ive got to do. I have no more comment on that. You guys know it all." Boston was nine games ahead of Tampa Bay at the start of play on Sept. 4, then lost 18 of its last 24 games to finished one game behind the Rays in the AL wild-card race. Ortiz, eligible for free agency after the World Series, hit .309 with 29 homers and 96 RBIs. He said given the turmoil, its too early to start talking contract with the Red Sox. "Of course, I would like to come back," he said. "They have a lot of things going on right now. So once they go through all the stuff, GM and managing things, I think theyre going to start talking to the players. So, well see. Weve got time." The Boston Globe reported this month that Jon Lester, Josh Beckett and John Lackey regularly drank beer in the clubhouse on days they werent pitching; the pitchers denied a report by WHDH-TV that they also drank beer in the dugout during games. Francona did say he was unhappy that some players werent in the dugout during games to support their teammates. Ortiz said too much was being made of an ESPN interview earlier this month during which he said he would connsider playing for the rival New York Yankees. Cheap Jerseys. "I never said that I would sign with the Yankees. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no," he said. "They asked me if I would play for the Yankees. I said I would think about it. But I didnt confirm to nobody that I would play for the Yankees. Im still a Red Sox, arent I?" Ortiz is the second straight Red Sox player to win Clemente award, which was announced before Game 2. On the field before the game, he hugged Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, the 2008 Clemente winner. After watching a video on Pujols charity work early this season, Ortiz called Pujols. "He was going through some tough times, and we were talking for a while. And at the end of the conversation, I told him, Hey, I dont care if you hit .100 this year. To me you are a great human being because everything that you do for people," Pujols said. "So on my way here, I was looking at the list and I saw my boy Pujols, and I said, did I beat Pujols?" Oritz said. The Clemente award is given annually to a major league player who gives back through community service and also excels on the field. Clemente was a Hall of Fame right fielder with the Pittsburgh Pirates. He died in a plane crash on New Years Eve 1972 while trying to deliver food and relief supplies to earthquake victims in Nicaragua. He finished his career with exactly 3,000 hits. "I think when it comes down to something like this, it can get a little disconnected with everything that happened with us during the season," Ortiz said. "I think a lot of people in New England are happy about seeing things like this, and theyre going to be motivated to help the foundation." ' ' '
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