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Star Power on Display in FA Women's Super League

October 20, 2020
SOURCE: ARSENAL WOMEN/TWITTER
SOURCE: ARSENAL WOMEN/TWITTER

The GIST: With the NWSL Fall Series wrapping up on Saturday, it’s time to turn your attention across the pond, where some of our favorite Olympians continue to play in the FA Women’s Super League. Let’s spill the tea.

Who’s playing?: Star players like Tobin Heath, Christen Press, Ashley Lawrence and, most recently, new mom Alex Morgan have all taken their talents overseas. The mostly short-term moves were prompted by the uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic in the States but could signal a broader movement of players looking for better salary opportunities and stability.

  • These players have already made a big impression, highlighted by Heath and Press jerseys outselling all Manchester United men’s jerseys in the three days after their signing. No surprises there!
     
  • While we wait for the NWSL to announce details for the 2021 season, there’s plenty of action in the Super League to tide us over until the Olympics begin next summer.

Any other news from the league?: Glad you asked! Arsenal’s Vivianne Miedema broke a huge Super League record over the weekend, scoring her 50th goal in 50 (!!!) games to become the league’s all-time leading scorer. After breaking the record, the Dutch star knocked in two more goals just for good measure. Have yourself a day.

Dodgers and Rays to Face Off in World Series

October 20, 2020
SOURCE: TAMPA BAY RAYS/TWITTER
SOURCE: TAMPA BAY RAYS/TWITTER

The GIST: The World Series matchup is officially set! Both league championship series took all seven games and a whole lot of drama to be decided, building to a star-studded Fall Classic between the Tampa Bay Rays and the LA Dodgers.

Tampa Bay Rays: The Rays gave everyone something to celebrate by defeating the Houston Asterisks Astros with a nail-biting Game 7 victory on Saturday. With the win, the Rays punched their ticket to the World Series for the second time in franchise history and are now just four wins away from their first-ever title.

  • A key player to watch is rookie outfielder Randy Arozarena, who has seven (!!!) postseason home runs, a rookie record. On the defensive side, keep an eye on starting pitcher Charlie Morton. Morton boasts an incredible 0.57 earned run average (ERA) this postseason. Domination station.

LA Dodgers: The Dodgers defied the odds, coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to force Game 7 and win an epic 4–3 duel with the Atlanta Braves, thanks to outfielder Cody Bellinger’s clutch go-ahead home run. Entering the season as the favorites to win it all, the Dodgers now look to avenge their World Series losses in 2017 and 2018 and claim their seventh franchise title.

  • This stacked team features a laundry list of talent, including shortstop Corey Seager, who has six home runs and a team-leading 15 RBIs this postseason. For pitching, the Dodgers will lean on starting pitcher Walker Buehler and his 29 strikeouts through four postseason starts.

Who’s going to win it all?: This World Series matchup is sure to be one for the history books, with the winningest teams from each league squaring off. Riding their come-from-behind NLCS energy, we expect the star-powered Dodgers to keep that momentum rolling against the Rays and ultimately live up to their preseason favorite status.

  • First pitch of Game 1 is set for 8:09 p.m. ET tomorrow. Grab your favorite blanket and get cozy for the October baseball finale!

🏒Guide to Hockey

October 17, 2020
Guide to Hockey

The GIST

The point of the good ol’ hockey game is to have the most goals after three, 20 minute periods of play. Each team has five players (three forwards and two defence) plus one goalie on the ice at a time.

How is it organized?

The most popular hockey league in the world is the National Hockey League, aka the NHL or “chel” if you’re a true “hockey beauty” *rolls eyes*. Teams are divided into the Eastern and Western Conferences and are then further divided by divisions. There are 31 teams (until Seattle’s expansion team begins its franchise in 2021-22) and 82 regular season games. 

At the end of the regular season, the top three teams in each division and then the remaining top two teams in the conference, regardless of the division (this playoff format is v. controversial because sometimes one division is stronger than the other, meaning that two of the best teams in the conference may have to play each other in the first round) will move on to the playoffs. This means each division will have a minimum of three and a maximum of five teams in the playoffs. The playoffs consist of four rounds of best-of-seven series (teams must win four of the possible seven games to advance) with a chance to win the coveted Stanley Cup aka “Lord Stanley” in the end.  

The best of the best

The 2020 Stanley Cup Champions are the Tampa Bay Lightning! The Lightning claimed the first (and hopefully last) bubble championship and their second Stanley Cup in franchise history, defeating the Dallas Stars in six games. Centre Brayden Point led the Lightning offense with 14 goals and 19 assists (!!!) throughout the playoffs. On the defensive side, defenseman Victor Hedman was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy (the award for the MVP during the playoffs). Other top players in the league include Sidney Crosby (Pittsburgh Penguins), Nathan MacKinnon (Colorado Avalanche), Connor McDavid (Edmonton Oilers) and Patrick Kane (Chicago Blackhawks)

When will the next NHL season start?

COVID-19 paused the NHL regular season in March forcing a four-month hiatus in play. In a normal year, the new NHL season would begin in October...but we all know 2020 is certainly not normal. With the 2020 season wrapping up in late September, the league is targeting January 1st as the potential start date for the 2021 season, although nothing’s set in stone just yet. We'll be waiting for that puck to drop!

All my ladies, let me hear y’all!

The women’s hockey scene has gotten mighty messy as of late. At the end of its 2019 season, the Canadian Women’s Hockey League (CWHL) (one of two professional women’s hockey leagues based in North America at the time) unexpectedly folded due to unsustainable business operations. It consisted of six teams, four based in Canada, one in the US, and one in China, and left a lot of female hockey stars without a team.

Then there’s the National Women’s Hockey League (NWHL) which has just five teams centralized in the Northeastern US. However, in both the former CWHL and the current NWHL, players get paid next to nothing compared to their male counterparts. Most of the league’s players juggle full-time work and pro-hockey as the league’s average salary is just $15k. To put this in perspective, the lowest amount an NHL team can pay a player is $700k. Can you say #WageGap?

So in 2019, more than 200 of the world’s best female hockey players joined forces to fight for change forming the Professional Women's Hockey Players Association. They are currently boycotting (refusing to play) in the current professional hockey league structure with the goal of creating a viable cross-border league with better working conditions (is health insurance so much to ask?) and better pay. That means no Marie-Philip Poulin, no Hilary Knight and no Brianne Jenner to watch this season. Welp. 

But, you can watch them on their Dream Gap Tour this year. It’s a short-term band aid but will hopefully help create a long-term solution. For now, the conversation seems to be at a standstill and the future of women’s hockey hangs in a kind of uncomfortable limbo. Subscribe to The GIST and follow our social channels to stay up-to-date on more of this news.

Fun facts

  • The Stanley Cup was created in 1893. It was named for Lord Stanley of Preston, a Canadian Governor General.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins (that’s Sidney Crosby’s team!) used to have a real-life penguin mascot. Pete, as he was affectionately called, was introduced in 1968 before a game against the Pennsylvania state rival Philadelphia Flyers.
  • There are more than 2,200 names engraved on the Stanley Cup (FYI, each team has their names engraved after winning), but only 12 women have made the cut, either as owners or team executives. Let’s get to adding to this tally, shall we?

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⛸️🎾🏒

Skate Canada International, CANWNT Travel Plans Canceled

October 15, 2020
SOURCE: PAUL CHIASSON/CANADIAN PRESS
SOURCE: PAUL CHIASSON/CANADIAN PRESS

⛸⚽️Stop right there: It’s not just football, folks. The pandemic is now putting a stop to even more of our national pastimes. Skate Canada International, which was set for October 30th–31st in Ottawa, has officially been canceled. The event was supposed to be one of six international Grand Prix of the skating season, but now our skating stars must look ahead to January’s nationals event.

  • In other relatable news, our women’s national soccer team had their travel plans kiboshed. The still-coachless team was set to head over to jolly old England this month for a pre-planned training camp, but the World No. 8 squad decided to cancel on the advice of public health officials. Way to set a good example, queens!

🎾Keep it rolling: Denis Shapovalov and Milos Raonic (pronounced MEE-LOSH RAUNITCH) missed the memo. Canada’s top tennis stars are still on the road, having traveled from the French and Italian Opens, respectively, to the St. Petersburg Open in Russia, and it seems (knock on wood) to be worth the trip. Both players are through to the round of 16 in the ATP 500 event and will play for a spot in the quarter-finals today. Follow along here.

🏒Here, there and everywhere: A few big names have found new homes since NHL free agency began last week, but luckily, some of our favorites are staying put. The Montreal Canadiens signed Brendan Gallagher to a six-year contract extension and Jake Allen to a two-year extension, and Nick Paul is sticking with the Ottawa Senators for another two years.

  • The Toronto Maple Leafs have a new backup goalie in Aaron Dell and picked up Joey Anderson in a trade, and the Winnipeg Jets, Calgary Flames and Vancouver Canucks all re-signed players over the past few days. Guess a four-day work week really can be productive in Canada!

No Sweeps in MLB's League Championship Series

October 15, 2020
SOURCE: LA DODGERS/TWITTER
SOURCE: LA DODGERS/TWITTER

The GIST: It might be spooky season, but the witches can hide their brooms for now, with no sweeps in the MLB’s league championship series.

What happened yesterday?: The Tampa Bay Rays were primed to sweep the AL Championship Series (ALCS), leading the Houston Astros 3-0 heading into Game 4. But the Astros proved to be too much for the regular season AL leaders, winning 4–3 and forcing today’s Game 5 at 5 p.m. ET.

  • Earlier in the day, the LA Dodgers put on a masterclass in the National League Championship Series (NLCS). Down 2-0 in the series to the Atlanta Braves, the Dodgers finally came to life in Game 3, winning 15–3 and showing why they led the NL in the regular season. Game 4 is set for 8 p.m. ET tonight.

Any other MLB news?: No more fake crowd noise, because the fans are back! For the first time since spring training in March, the MLB is allowing 11,500 fans to attend NLCS games, which are being played in a “neutral site” environment at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. The World Series, which will also take place in Arlington, will allow fans as well. We’ll miss you, cardboard cutouts!