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  • Montreal's Genie Bouchard had her game face on during her second-round win at Indian Wells. (Stephanie Myles/

    INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – There were tears during Genie Bouchard's practices this week, and a lot of intense tête-à-têtes with coach Nick Saviano.

    But in the end, if a frazzled week of dress rehearsals ends up turning into a boffo performance on opening night, it might all be worth it.

    From this ...

    Earlier this week, this was a familiar scene at Genie Bouchard's practices (Stephanie Myles/ to this ...

    Bouchard interacts with the fans on court after her win about 63 minutes and 30 seconds, the time it took to dismantle a quality player and move into the third round at the BNP Paribas Open.

    Read More »from After frazzled week of practice, Eugenie Bouchard rolls in her first Indian Wells match
  • Thomas Scrubb hooped 20 and hauled down 14 in Carleton's ouster of McMaster (Chris Roussakis for Yahoo! Canada Sports)

    Back in the day of Dean Smith there was the de facto Anybody but Carolina banner. It would be only understandable if ABC stood for Anybody But Carleton in the realm of Canadian university hoops.

    Feelings toward the indomitable Ravens, in the unfamiliar position of being seeded No. 2 at the CIS Final 8, are not quite like that — "it's all about respect; they're at the pinnacle that we're all trying to reach," is how long-time Concordia Stingers skipper John Dore put it on behalf of the coaching fraternity. This time around, the question revolves more around the possibility of any team spoiling a potential all-Ottawa showdown on a championship Sunday at the Canadian Tire Centre. That meant No. 3 seed Alberta, which was paced by fifth-year star Jordan Baker's 17-point, nine-rebound, five-assist effort in its 72-62 win over Saint Mary's, was under more of a microscope than anyone else during Friday's quarter-finals. Carleton pulled away from McMaster to win 82-64, with Phil Scrubb (21 points and five assists) and Thomas Scrubb (20 points, 14 rebounds) counting for half the Ravens' total.

    The Golden Bears didn't go ahead for good until the third quarter, when Baker, their Swiss army knife of an all-Canadian forward, started driving and dishing. An eight-minute drought also did in the No. 8 Huskies, setting up one-half of an Alberta-Carleton semifinal matchup. It will be a rematch of the 2012 final. Four players on each side were around for that one.

    "It's good — we owe them for two years ago," said Baker, who played for Carleton coach Dave Smart (and with Ravens star Phil Scrubb) for Canada at the 2011 Pan-Am Games. "We're going to have to play a lot better if we're going to be able to knock off the next team in the semifinals. It'll be a steeper challenge."

    Read More »from Alberta Golden Bears advance at CIS Final 8; can they challenge Carleton on Semifinal Saturday?
  • Brad Gushue's Brier dream has evaporated again. (CP)

    Eleven trips to the Brier for Brad Gushue and once again he will leave without the thing he wants most. A national championship.

    Wednesday morning's 5-3 loss to British Columbia dropped Newfoundland & Labrador to 3 and 5, ostensibly ending their hopes for this year. Too deep a hole from which to emerge for a playoff spot, as it turned out. Predictably so, according to history.

    "I've seen 6 and 5 get into the playoffs," Gushue is quoted as saying in a story this week. No he hasn't, unless he means he's seen it on television. The last time a team made the playoffs with that record at a Brier was in 1996. Won't happen again this year, although credit to Gushue and his team for hanging in to make it interesting right through Friday morning.

    Have to feel for the skip from Mount Pearl, Newfoundland. It's not that he hasn't had a decent dose of curling success. The gold medal he can whip out at any time - from the 2006 Olympic Games - just happens to be a bauble that most other players at

    Read More »from Gushue’s dream flames out again at the 2014 Brier but there’s reason for optimism
  • Athletes and officials of Canada enter the arena during attend the opening ceremony of the 2014 Winter Paralympics at the Fisht Olympic stadium in Sochi, Russia, Friday, March 7, 2014. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

    Inside the “Ice Cube” where Wheelchair Curling will be taking place, I felt a good vibe even though we are still a day away from the start of the games, and more importantly I have been retired as a Paralympic (summer) athlete for four years. But there is something very familiar about the energy in the air that has an automatic effect on me.

    It feels like walking into a different world where absolutely everything is secondary to protecting your performance. This time, however, I am not here to perform, at least not as an athlete. But once you have experienced the games as an athlete, there is an intimate connection with the Paralympic venues that can never be erased. As an athlete, you will either experience the venue as a backdrop to all of your dreams coming true, or it can be the stage for your worst nightmare.

    There is very little an athlete can do to physically to improve their performance once they arrive at the Games. Apart from getting the right amount of sleep, the proper

    Read More »from A Summer Paralympic athlete knows exactly what Canada’s best are feeling as Sochi Paralympics get underway
  • Quebec skip Jean-Michel Menard after defeating Alberta Friday morning in Kamloops (CP Images)

    KAMLOOPS, B.C. — So the trend continues: no five-loss team has made the playoffs at the Brier since 1996. Team Quebec and skip Jean-Michel Menard avoided that plausibility with an upset win over Team Alberta skipped by Kevin Koe. Menard made a double with his final stone to run Koe out of rocks and win the game 7-5 on the last draw of the round robin.

    Menard's shot meant a lot. A minute earlier, he'd exchanged a nervous glance with third Martin Crete, after Saskatchewan's Steve Laycock had somehow thrown his final stone through three New Brunswick rocks to give up a steal of three in the tenth end and losing 9-7. "We were getting mentally ready to give up a two and having to win in overtime," said Menard in his post-game scrum. "But when [Koe] went to go play his first rock, we saw right on the side of us Steve Laycock went right through and Martin and I just looked at each other and didn't say a word."

    "I got a good sniff at it. Made the double and here we are, from 3-4 to 7-4 without a tiebreaker, so that's pretty amazing and we're very happy."

    Read More »from Tim Hortons Brier: Quebec avoids tiebreaker with upset win; Saskatchewan loss
  • Camilo's departure leaves the Whitecaps with a big hole up front.The Major League Soccer season begins Saturday, and all three Canadian teams should be in for an interesting campaign. The league's website's preseason power rankings aren't very high on the prospects of the Vancouver Whitecaps, Toronto FC or the Montreal Impact, ranking them 10th, 14th and 19th (out of 19 teams) respectively, and that's annoyed players in Montreal in particular. Each of those teams does face substantial questions, though, and there's also an overarching question about MLS in Canada; the league has decided to lock out its referees, and while that carries questions in the U.S. about how well replacement refs will do (as we saw with the NFL, there may be a notable drop-off), in Canada it raises questions about if replacement officials will even be allowed to work games north of the border given Canadian labour codes' stricter rules on replacement workers. Presuming that gets sorted out, though, there are still plenty of on-pitch issues around each Canadian side this year. Here's a key question each team will have to answer, in order of those power rankings' projected finishes.

    Read More »from Big questions surround each of the three Canadian MLS teams as the season gets underway
  • Close, but not enough for Canadian Peter Polansky, who fell to Juan Mónaco of Argentina at the BNP Paribas Open Thursday. (Stephanie Myles/

    INDIAN WELLS, Calif. – Peter Polansky doesn’t create many opportunities for himself to play at the highest level of professional tennis.

    So when he does, and then falls just short, it hurts just a little more.

    The 25-year-old from Richmond Hill, Ont., who won two matches in qualifying to make the main draw, was oh, so close against Juan Mónaco Thursday in the first round at the BNP Paribas Open.

    But close means going home, after a 6-4, 6-7 (5), 6-4 defeat to a player who was in the top 10 less than two years ago but now, at No. 43, has struggled for the last six months to a year with health and confidence.

    It was a terrific opportunity for Polansky; Mónaco didn’t play all that well, but just well enough to win.

    Read More »from Peter Polansky falls just short against Juan Mónaco at Indian Wells
  • Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak breezed into the second round of the BNP Paribas Open with a 6-2, 6-0 win over Poland's Urszula Radwanska (Stephanie Myles/

    INDIAN Wells, Calif. – This is the last of eight tournaments for which Canadian Aleksandra Wozniak can use a special injury protection ranking to gain entry.

    After that, with her true ranking at a stark-reality No. 241 after missing much of the last two years with a shoulder injury, she’s on her own.

    So the 26-year-old is trying to maximize in the California desert.

    A comprehensive, 6-2 6-0 drubbing of Urszula Radwanska of Poland Thursday in the first round of the BNP Paribas Open was a good start.

    “I breezed through the match, I can say, because I thought it was going to be tighter. I thought I played well tactically, strategically I was moving her. She mixes up her pace, she gives you softer, then quick balls, so you have to adjust to that, but I’ve played her many times,” Wozniak said. “I’m happy with the win. I need the points. I need matches, so it’s good.”

    Read More »from Blainville’s Aleksandra Wozniak to the second round at the BNP Paribas Open
  • Quebec skip Jean-Michel Menard is happy to be in contention this late in the tournament (CP Images)

    Kamloops, B.C. — The playoff picture for the 2014 Tim Hortons Brier after the penultimate draw Thursday night is clear as mud. While Alberta, British Columbia and Manitoba were guaranteed playoff berths headed into Draw 16, contenders Ontario and Saskatchewan lost. While Steve Laycock's Saskatoon rink is still in contention despite a crushing 6-3 loss to a dominant B.C. squad, Thursday was a bitter pill for Brier rookie Greg Balsdon to swallow. With an 8-6 loss to Team Manitoba, he was officially eliminated from contention.

    The general rule is that three losses at the Brier in the 11-game field is acceptable and four is treading on very fragile eggshells. Not since 1996 has a five-loss team entered the playoff round (curiously, that tournament also took place in Kamloops) at the annual tournament, but the scenario is entirely plausible here in 2014. Quebec's Jean-Michel Menard, at 6-4, is curling against Alberta's Kevin Koe in the Friday morning draw. Koe is playing for hammer throughout the playoff round. Saskatchewan, meanwhile, is up against New Brunswick's James Grattan, who has somehow stuck around despite a 1-5 start.

    Then there's Brad Gushue, the 2006 Olympic gold medallist and Newfoundland & Labrador who has curiously never won a Brier. He made quick work of Jamie Koe and the Northwest Territories Thursday night with a 9-2 win and presumably left the arena believing he didn't have a shot at a gold medal in Kamloops, but losses by Quebec and Saskatchewan mean that there will be a four-team tiebreak.


    Read More »from Tim Hortons Brier: Seven teams remain in contention headed into final draw of round robin
  • Brett Lawrie was all smiles after his second half of 2013. (The Canadian Press)DUNEDIN, Fla. – A lot of things have to go right in 2014 for the Toronto Blue Jays to correct 2013’s last-place finish. And, there’s a very good chance that as Brett Lawrie goes, so will the Blue Jays.

    The Canadian-born third baseman is just 24 years old but is entering his third full season in the big leagues and fans and the organization are ready for a long-anticipated breakout season. Lawrie showed what he is capable of doing as an everyday player when he burst onto the scene in 2011. In 2014, he needs to go out and do it consistently – ideally over 162 games, or something close to that.

    At his best, Lawrie can be a five-tool player and a sparkplug for a team often in need of an emotional jolt and a timely hit. At his worst, he is injury-plagued, an impatient hitter who strikes out too much, and makes some curious decisions as a baserunner. For the Blue Jays to contend this season they need the best version of Good Brett.

    In Lawrie’s case, less is more, as the old cliché goes. He’s

    Read More »from Time for Brett Lawrie to have long-awaited breakout season for Blue Jays


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