'Havana Syndrome': Canada cautions diplomats about mysterious illness symptoms

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Canada’s foreign ministry has advised staff serving around the world to watch for mysterious illness symptoms following unexplained health incidents among diplomats in Cuba and U.S. personnel in various countries.

In September, Global Affairs Canada began briefings with senior managers at headquarters in Ottawa, all heads of mission abroad and partners from other federal departments working at embassies, says a newly disclosed briefing note.

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On Oct. 7, a broadcast message to all Global Affairs staff was issued, outlining the symptoms and how to report concerns, says the note, prepared in November for Melanie Joly, who had just been sworn in as Canada’s latest foreign affairs minister.

Canadian diplomats and family members posted to Havana, Cuba, have reported difficulties since 2017, including headaches, loss of memory, inability to concentrate, cognitive and vision problems, noise sensitivity, dizziness, nausea, sleep disturbances, mood changes and nosebleeds.

Fifteen Canadians have received a confirmed working diagnosis of “acquired brain injury,” Global Affairs says.

Several U.S. personnel who worked in Cuba have reported similar health issues, commonly known as Havana Syndrome. More recently, there have been reports of symptoms among U.S. personnel in Washington, Austria and China.

“There continues to be ongoing media coverage of unexplained health incidents experienced by U.S. government staff abroad, which has understandably generated concerns among Government of Canada employees around the world,” says the November note to Joly.

The Global Affairs staff briefings were done out of “an abundance of caution and to meet our duty of care obligations,” the note adds.

The RCMP and Canadian Security Intelligence Service have sent similar messages to their staff, the department says.

CSIS has offices located within certain Canadian diplomatic missions.

“In alignment with Global Affairs Canada protocols to respond to any unusual events affecting Canadian officials abroad, CSIS advised its employees accordingly,” said intelligence service spokeswoman Keira Lawson.

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Global Affairs spokeswoman Patricia Skinner declined to say whether any new cases had been reported by staff since the department’s 2021 briefings on health symptoms.

“For privacy and security reasons, we cannot comment on the specifics of the ongoing investigations, individual cases, nor on specific security measures,” she said.

Ongoing Canadian and U.S. investigations have not determined a cause of the ailments, though theories have ranged from targeted sonic attacks by an adversary to pesticide spraying.

Given the unusual health incidents in Cuba, as of April 2018 the Canadian diplomats posted to Havana have not been accompanied by spouses or children.

In January 2019, Global Affairs reduced its diplomatic footprint in Havana by half. Since then, the department has increased the number of diplomats, not yet to full staffing, to allow the mission to respond more effectively to the consular needs of Canadians in Cuba and to advance Canadian foreign policy, trade and development priorities, Skinner said.

“Global Affairs Canada intends to increase the number of Canadian diplomatic staff in Cuba in due course,” she added.

Department records obtained by The Canadian Press through the Access to Information Act indicate the move to fuller staffing in Havana was paused temporarily last March given the appearance of a possible new case of the syndrome.

“Depending on the situation, we could explore additional health and security measures that would allow us to go forward with the increased footprint, or we could look at other options,” say internal notes for a March 5 briefing of officials.

Skinner declined to say whether the possible case was indeed confirmed through testing.

Eight Canadian diplomats and their family members who became mysteriously ill while posted to Cuba are suing Ottawa in Federal Court for millions of dollars in damages.

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Paul Miller, a lawyer for the families, said in an interview that at least one more diplomat who served in Cuba – possibly the unnamed one mentioned in the March 2021 department memo – will soon be added to the lawsuit.

Miller said that some ailing diplomats “do not want to get involved with suing their government” given the possible damaging effects on their careers. “And this last person took some serious time before deciding to join.”

The diplomats say the Canadian government failed to protect them, hid crucial information and downplayed the seriousness of the risks. The government denies wrongdoing and negligence, and wants the court to dismiss the action.

Skinner said Global Affairs continues to maintain a security and health protocol to respond immediately to any unusual events or health symptoms affecting Canadian diplomats and their families.

The RCMP has not revealed findings of its long-running investigation of the health ailments.

Pamela Isfeld, president of the Professional Association of Foreign Service Officers, said she hopes there will be a resolution to the puzzling episode.

“I share the frustration of everybody – there just doesn’t seem to be a conclusion anywhere close in this investigation.”

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Canadian Shapovalov reaches Australian Open quarterfinals, sets Nadal match

WATCH: Shapovalov predicts 'long battle'against Nadal in quarter-finals of Australian Open

As the 2022 Australian Open began, Denis Shapovalov talked about wanting to bring the “Rafa mentality” to the court.

Now that he’s reached the quarterfinals Down Under for the first time in his career after a 6-3, 7-6 (5), 6-3 dismantling of world No. 3 Alexander Zverev in the round of 16 Sunday, he will get to test out that new mantra against the man who created it.

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The 22-year-old Canadian will face 20-time Grand Slam champion Rafael Nadal on Tuesday, with a spot in the semifinals on the line.

“It’s just fighting for every point, kind of just staying in it, not letting things bother you,” Shapovalov said of the mindset he hoped he and his team could bring to the court in 2022.

If the match against Zverev was any indication, it’s already mission accomplished.

Shapovalov is the third Canadian to reach the final eight in Melbourne. He joins Milos Raonic (who has gone at least that far on five occasions) and Mike Belkin, who reached the quarterfinals in 1968 _ the first year of tennis’s open era.

Felix Auger-Aliassime will attempt to join that group Monday (late Sunday night ET) when the No. 9 seed takes on No. 27 seed Marin Cilic in his own round-of-16 match.

“I’m definitely expecting a long battle out there. He makes you play a lot. His defence is very good. He’s very good at what he does, you know?” Shapovalov said of Nadal. “I’m going to have to try to play my game, take it to him and keep doing what I have been doing: playing patient, fighting for every point and picking my spots to play aggressively.”

Shapovalov had a slight dip in focus at the end of the second set against Zverev. But beyond that, he outhit the mighty Zverev from the baseline. He kept the errors down. And on a steamy, humid day, he kept his infamously inconsistent cool pretty much throughout.

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“Obviously it was really hot to begin with. Did a good job of just staying patient and, yeah, trying to play a little quickly on my serve games,” Shapovalov said. “I think I did everything really, really well today.”

Other than 11 double faults, Shapovalov dominated the rallies with power and surprising consistency. He rarely looked in trouble.

For his part, Zverev never looked as though he might mount a charge. And his career-long struggle with his second serve, resolved fairly well in 2021, reared its head. With eight double faults, he won just 29 per cent of his second-serve points.

“Maybe since Wimbledon, one of the worst matches I have played. It’s just tough,” a downcast Zverev said. “Obviously I give credit to Denis. It’s incredible he’s in the quarters. I think he deserves it. He’s done a lot of work. He’s improved his game. But I’ve got to look at myself, as well. Today was just, in my opinion, awful from my side.”

Shapovalov went 22-for-27 at the net on Sunday. That’s an area where he has made steady improvement in the last two years, and where he hopes new coach Jamie Delgado, a fine volleyer in his day, will make even more of an impact.

The arrival of Andy Murray’s former longtime coach, and Shapovalov’s first breakthrough effort Down Under, are happening concurrently.

After just a few weeks, though, it’s far too soon to assess Delgado’s impact.

Read more:

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However, adding the 44-year-old Brit, after parting ways with Russian former top-10 player Mikhail Youzhny at the end of last season, was 100 per cent Shapovalov’s decision.

It may be the first major call on his career that the Richmond Hill, Ont., native has made on his own, with mother and coach Tessa such a strong presence as he rose through the ranks.

“For sure, it’s a little bit about growing up _ wanting my parents to be my parents and kind of treating this like more of like a business and like a job,” Shapovalov said. “And I really wanted to build a team that’s going to be on the same page the whole time. So it was it was my call, and my decision.”

Shapovalov spoke to a few potential candidates. He even approached his former coach and the former Canadian Davis Cup captain Martin Laurendeau to return.

“It just didn’t work out. He’s in a good position with Tennis Canada, and he’s pretty comfortable. We just, couldn’t come to a good agreement,” Shapovalov said.

© 2022 The Canadian Press

Teachers say social media is 'hurting' students — but their jobs have also gotten harder

WATCH: Teachers say they are ‘stretched’ responding to social media impacts in classrooms

Shortly after the start of the new school year last September, Pam Johnson started noticing soap dispensers were going missing from bathrooms at the New Westminster, B.C. high school where she teaches Grade 8.

The streak of vandalism was inspired by a viral trend on the social media app TikTok, and would have been shocking if it happened earlier in Johnson’s 16-year teaching career. Instead, it is just one example of many she gives about how social media has made her job — and her students’ lives — harder.

“It’s like Whack-A-Mole. Every day, it feels like there’s something new,” said Johnson.

“The increase we’ve seen in just overall troubling behaviour, it’s exhausting and it’s very, very concerning.”

Even before social media existed, teachers have had to address their students’ bad behaviour and the mental health challenges that come with growing up. But Johnson says as Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and other apps have become more central in students’ lives, those issues have risen dramatically.

“We see increased behaviour around self issues, self-harm, kids who are more inclined to be suicidal, who have relationship problems,” she said. “Kids have always fallen asleep in class, but they’re doing so a lot more now.”

“They’re so engrossed in their phones and what is happening there that they can’t concentrate on school, or even things that are just going on around them.”

To a certain degree, the damaging effect social media can have — particularly on young people — is nothing new. But in the decades since the introduction of MySpace and the eventual rise of Facebook and Instagram, there are clear indications it’s only getting worse. A recent deep dive into Facebook’s operations, by the Wall Street Journal, revealed the company is well aware of its platforms’ negative influences on the mental health of users — a sizable percentage of those being young ones.

Despite the negative effects coming into clearer focus, the entrenchment of social media in the day-to-day lives of Canadians is nearly inescapable. Global News is unravelling the many facets of influence these platforms have — both offline and on — and the impact on the classroom is just one piece of the puzzle.

Read more:

Influenced: A Global News series about social media’s impact on and offline

Teachers and youth mental health advocates are quick to point out that social media use is not a direct cause of increased negative behaviours, which can also stem from other problems in kids’ lives. There is plenty of good to be found on these platforms, they add, and kids need to be taught the proper and healthy way to use them.

But they also agree that the negative aspects of social media — the addiction of seeking “likes,” the self-isolation it can promote — need to be addressed.

“For those kids who are struggling at home, maybe they have low self-esteem or other things like that – this medium is so difficult on them because they already feel disconnected,” said Johnson. “They already feel like they don’t fit in. And this just makes them feel more so.”

Johnson isn’t the only teacher who has seen the impacts of social media on their students.

Carl Hofbauer has spent the past five years as a student counsellor at a fine arts school in Langley, B.C., after over a decade of classroom teaching. He remembers sitting in on a music class this past year when he noticed just how much smartphones have invaded young people’s lives.

“(The students) were playing this Stravinsky piece — a pretty tough piece,” he remembers. “And one of the students, the oboe player, she had her phone on her music stand, and she’s scrolling through it … then she would play her part, and then go back to her phone.” Hofbauer notes the phone was next to the student’s sheet music.

“It just seemed so amazing to me, that in the middle of playing this beautiful music, some of these kids are still finding ways to disconnect.”

After transitioning to a position where he’s now intimately involved in students’ mental health struggles and anxieties, Hofbauer says it didn’t take long before he began feeling overwhelmed — not just by the issues he was confronting, but by how many students he was counselling at a time.

“I have 500 students in my caseload, and if 20 of them are dealing with issues at home or severe mental health struggles, you just can’t be proactive,” he said. “You’re putting out fires instead of actively counselling these kids, which is what they need.”

Carl Hofbauer, a counsellor at a Langley, B.C., fine arts school, in his office.

Carl Hofbauer, a counsellor at a Langley, B.C., fine arts school, in his office.

Jennifer Echols

Other teachers agree with Hofbauer that there is what Johnson calls an “urgent need” for more mental health resources in schools, including adding more counselling staff.

Emily Jayne, who teaches Grade 8 at a Vancouver private school but spent eight years prior teaching high school in the United States, says she’s seen in both countries how mental health has worsened — and how social media has played a role.

“It’s just this constant, consistent access to information that’s leading kids to become more concerned about climate change, more concerned about politics, how the world is changing,” she said. “It’s made their lives so much more stressful, and that has led to a change in how they behave for sure.”

Without those additional supports, Johnson says it’s often been left to teachers and other school staff to respond whenever those mental health struggles spill over.

“There have been fights, the police have been called on occasion … and often the dispute or the outburst can be linked to something on these apps,” Johnson said.

“It comes down on our shoulders a lot and we are stretched. And we just don’t know what to do anymore. So you just kind of start to shrug your shoulders and go, I don’t know. I don’t know.”

In their most recent annual student drug use and health survey in 2019, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Ontario — where there are nearly as many K-12 students as Quebec, Alberta and B.C. combined — found “suicidal ideation and serious psychological distress” were at an all-time high for students.

Symptoms of anxiety or depression were also found to be on the rise steadily among students in Grades 7 to 12, with over one in five students reporting “serious psychological distress” — double the rate it was six years prior.

The researchers behind the study were explicit in explaining that screen time and social media usage weren’t the sole cause for these levels, but were among its main contributing factors.

Statistics Canada also found that youths aged 15 to 24 not only used social media more than older age groups, but also reported far higher negative outcomes from its use.

The researchers, which used the results of a 2018 survey of Canadians, found more younger users had reported experiencing “lost sleep, trouble concentrating on tasks or activities, less physical activity, feeling anxious or depressed, feeling envious of the lives of others, and feeling frustrated or angry” as a result of social media.

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Yet some researchers — including Natasha Parent, a doctoral student at the University of British Columbia who specializes in the intersection of human development and technology — have refrained from pointing to social media use as being the determining factor in declining youth mental health.

“I don’t think that social media is that different from other things that we have seen in the past. You know, if this was 70 years ago, we’d be talking about TV, and there was so much fear mongering (back then) about how TV was going to melt kids’ brains,” Parent said.

Although Parent’s own research and work with kids has found a similar connection between depression and social media, she’s often found that those issues are driven by other factors — a bad home life, relationship problems — and social media can act as a coping mechanism.

Particularly during COVID-19, Parent says, “social media was actually a very important tool for teens and kids to connect with one another when they weren’t physically able to before.”

Teachers are aware that as social media’s reach grows, students are spending a majority of their social lives on these apps, making it harder to convince kids to tune out completely.

While teachers say it’s still worth exploring ways to limit or outright ban phone use during classroom time, they say that would only address part of the problem that teachers are facing.

“The amount of time spent fighting students to put their phones away, that’s a huge loss of time,” Jayne said. “We’re not able to focus on what we’re supposed to be doing because it’s up to us to police it.”

Dr. Philip McRae, a researcher with the Alberta Teachers’ Association, says what’s most concerning is that mental health resources have seen a decline for the students and teachers that need them — particularly during COVID-19.

Among the issues, he says, are that there has been a general underfunding of resources from the provincial government that has led to a shortage of educational assistants and other support staff in schools. Even principals are being overworked, he added.

“We do see a great deal of anger (toward) this current government around not having the adequate resourcing and supports in schools,” he said.

In 2020, Alberta made deep cuts to its education system totalling nearly $1 billion and slashing thousands of support staff and educational assistants and redirecting it to the pandemic.

While other provinces like Quebec and Ontario have also seen cuts to their education or local school board budgets, governments have also begun to redirect existing funding towards mental health supports. British Columbia allocated over $20 million up until 2024, while Saskatchewan last month announced $400,000 towards ensuring “mental health first aid” training for one staff member at every K-12 school.

“We wouldn’t expect to send our children to school without somebody knowing first aid for a physical issue, so we shouldn’t expect that support not to be in schools for mental health,” said Saskatchewan Education Minister Dustin Duncan.

Duncan says he’s aware not only of the rise in kids’ social media use but also the impact it’s had on the classroom and youth mental health. Stories he has heard from parents whose children have been bullied through social media led him to not only think about ways to limit kids’ use, but also his own.

He says his 100-day break from social media helped spark the province’s Take a Break public awareness campaign, which was announced in December.

“I talk to school boards on a regular basis, and there isn’t a meeting where the mental health of our students doesn’t come up, and the demands are becoming greater for more supports for students,” he said.

“This is a way to remind those students that, if it’s once a week or once a month, it’s okay to take a break from social media once in a while.”

Read more:

The dark side of social media: What Canada is — and isn’t — doing about it

Paul Wozney, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU), says governments still aren’t going far enough. He says not only do teachers lack the resources necessary to tackle in-school crises and online bullying, but there is also a lack of legislation and guidelines for teachers and staff in general.

Wozney warns it isn’t only students having to deal with the fallout from social media use, but also teachers now have added dimensions to their job — including a responsibility for them to teach kids proper online behaviour.

“Teachers’ workload is complicated by social media and the classroom because society expects teachers to be the primary educators of youth about appropriate online, virtual and social media behaviour,” he said.

“I think teachers feel very much like a lot of the other important figures in children’s lives aren’t taking the same kind of responsibility that is being laid on teachers.”

For Johnson, more mental health supports will do little unless the social media companies themselves change their behaviours.

“What we need is these big tech companies to actually care about our youth and their future and not their massive profits, right? Because honestly, they target kids,” she said.

Pam Johnson, a teacher in New Westminster, B.C., in her office.

Pam Johnson, a teacher in New Westminster, B.C., in her office.

Pam Johnson

Facebook’s parent company Meta, which also owns Instagram, says its only incentive is to “try to give the maximum number of people as much of a positive experience as possible.” It also says it has spent more than $5 billion on improving safety and security this year alone.

The company also pushed back against the internal research highlighted by the Wall Street Journal’s recent reporting. While it admitted some teen Instagram users who struggled with anxiety and depression said the app made them feel worse, “more teens told us that Instagram made them feel better when experiencing these same issues.”

Last month, Instagram launched its own Take a Break feature that gives notifications reminding users to put their phone down after a certain amount of time. The platform will also allow parents and guardians to set their own time limits for their kids, while exploring other options to “keep (kids) safe.”

TikTok last year reinforced certain limits on video downloads and direct messaging for underage users, while push notifications are also paused during night hours for those users. The company, which has retained an outside safeguarding firm to conduct a review of the platform’s impacts on youth, also has a parental resource guide to foster family discussion.

A spokesperson reinforced the company’s position that “dangerous challenges and illegal behaviour” — like the removal of soap dispensers that Johnson witnessed — “are not allowed on our platform.”

Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel said in October the company is exploring an in-house parental control system called the “Family Center.” The system will give parents “better insights to help protect their kids, in ways that don’t compromise their privacy or data security,” according to a company statement.

Parent, the UBC researcher, and other youth mental health experts say fostering parent-child relationships, while also encouraging more discussion in the classroom, is critical to improving teens’ social media use.

“So much of it is about the relationship” between parents and their kids, said Ashley Miller, a child psychiatrist at BC Children’s Hospital.

“Of course, all teenagers, as they get older, are going to have their private life because that’s completely normal. But the stronger the underlying parent-child relationship is, the less likely they are to engage in the harmful behaviours online or to (feel they) need to hide really serious things.”

Parent says teachers can play a role too by regularly adapting classroom policies on devices to fit the needs of their students.

“Maybe students will say at certain times of their lives, ‘Oh, I really want to have my phone on because my grandma is in the hospital and I want to know something happens,’ and then you can adjust the guideline,” she said. “Make it a living document rather than a hard rule.”

Johnson agrees that social media is not an absolute evil — “Hey, I learned how the play the ukulele on YouTube,” she laughs, “and a lot of our resources come from (social media)” — and she is always looking for new ways to integrate it into the classroom to keep students engaged.

But she’s seen enough over the years to know that something needs to change.

“The bottom line is our kids are hurting,” Johnson said. “They are hurting big time. When you have, you know, Grade 6s wanting to die, when you have kids who hate their lives and just feel worse and worse or more lonely because of this stuff … this is extremely worrisome.

“A lot of times people say, ‘Oh, the schools need to do more.’ We are, we are. We are. I can guarantee you that we are trying and trying, but this is not where it’s going to change. It has to change at the top.”

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Edmonton Oilers rally for 5-3 win over Flames

Leon Draisaitl scored the game-winner with 5:31 left in third, giving the Edmonton Oilers a 5-3 decision over the Calgary Flames Saturday night at Rogers Place.

The Oilers end a seven-game winless skid that saw them go 0-5-2.

“We’re not the team that loses seven in-a-row,” Draisaitl said. “We’re not that bad, and I think everybody knows that. We know that. And I think that’s most important. Tonight feels really, really good but we have to continue pushing and getting better.”

LISTEN BELOW: Leon Draisaitl and Mikko Koskinen

For the 24th time in the last 28 games, the Oilers allowed the first goal. Matthew Tkachuk slammed in a rebound to make it 1-0 8:29 into the game. Milan Lucic deflected a puck past Mikko Koskinen for a power play goal in the final minute of the first.

“It would’ve been easy to fold up shop and worry about the next one down two, but I thought our group responded well,” Connor McDavid said.

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The Oilers broke through on the power play in the second when Evan Bouchard bombed one past Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom. Bouchard wristed home another power play marker four minutes later.

“Jesse (Puljujarvi) was doing a great job net-front, doing the dirty work in front and that’s how goals come,” Bouchard said.

LISTEN BELOW: Connor McDavid and Evan Bouchard

Brendan Perlini rifled in his fourth of the season to make it 3-2 with 1:41 to go in the second, but Noah Hanifin replied for the Flames 57 seconds later.

Read more:

Edmonton Oilers not pointing fingers as winless skid hits 7

Koskinen made a brilliant, stretching save to deny Dillon Dube on a two-on-one halfway through the third.

“I think it’s my top save in the NHL if you think about where we are,” Koskinen said.

“Saturday night against your biggest rival on Hockey Night in Canada, and you’re on a losing streak—there’s a lot of pressure with that, and he performed very well,” Oilers head Coach Dave Tippett said of Edmonton’s goaltender.

“(Koskinen) is a guy that’s faced a lot of criticism—same with a lot of our group—but he’s a guy we want to battle for and he played great for us tonight,” McDavid said post-game. “He made a lot of great saves and that one in particular was massive for us. It gave us a chance to win.”

Later, Draisaitl took a long pass from Duncan Keith and went in down the right side. He cut around Chris Tanev, out-waited Markstrom and flipped in his 27th tally of the season. Draisaitl, who finished with two goals and two assists, added an empty netter just before time expired.

Koskinen made 44 saves for his first win since December 1.

“There’s relief but there’s a happiness,” Tippett said post-game. “People don’t realize the toll it takes on you when you lose. It hurts everybody, so it’s great to see them feel good about it for a night and, hopefully, it’s a night we can use to start building ourselves back up again.”

LISTEN BELOW: Dave Tippett

The Oilers, 19-16-2, will play in Vancouver on Tuesday.

With files from Brenden Escott, 630 CHED

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Big third period gives London Knights the victory in Guelph

Third period goals by London Knights Sean McGurn, Tonio Stranges and Luke Evangelista turned a 3-2 deficit into a 5-3 win over the Storm in Guelph on Saturday night.

Bad bounces dogged London in two of the first three games they played against the Storm this season. One resulted in an overtime winner for the Storm in London. Another off a referee’s skate led to the winning goal in Guelph a couple of weeks later.

On Saturday things were different.

Cody Morgan turned the tide when he literally bounced the puck into the Guelph net off the back of goaltender Owen Bennett at 8:22 of the first period.

The Knights came out flying in the second period and peppered nine shots at Bennett in the first five minutes and 22 seconds but could not beat the Georgetown, Ont. native.

Guelph rode those stops to the game tying goal at the 8:15 mark of the period as Jake Karabela banged in a loose puck in front of the London net to make it 1-1.

Storm rookie defenceman Michael Buchinger scored his first Ontario Hockey League goal on January 18 against Flint. He scored the second of his career on Saturday to put Guelph up 2-1 as he sent a shot through a screen and past London goalie Owen Flores.

Matthew Poitras fed Braeden Bowman under four minutes later to make it 3-1 Storm, but Knights defenceman Gerard Keane got London within a goal heading to the final 20 minutes with a hard snap shot from the slot.

The third period featured the biggest bounce in London’s favour as a point shot by Logan Mailloux hit the leg of a Guelph defender and deflected right to Sean McGurn. He had an open side to fire the puck into to tie the game 3-3.

The Storm challenged the play as goaltender interference, but after a review that lasted long enough to play “The Hockey Song” by Stompin’ Tom Connors in its entirety, the goal was counted and the game sat even halfway through the third.

Morgan picked up a puck in centre and fed Tonio Stranges for a breakaway where he got the eventual game winning goal at 13:42 of the third.

Flores made his biggest stop of the game for in final two minutes with the Guelph net empty. Vegas Golden Knights draft pick, Daniil Chayka, skated into the slot and got a shot away that Flores snapped out of the air with his glove.

Moments later McGurn set up Luke Evangelista for an empty-netter to give London their first win over the Storm this season.

The Knights outshot the Storm 33-23.

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An Evangelistian pace

It will always be pointed out that anyone who scores a hat trick in their first game of an OHL season is on pace to score 204 goals. So far not a single player has been able to keep up that kind of a pace. Ernie Godden set the record for most goals in an OHL season with 87 in the 1980-81 season and it has stood ever since.

Still, London Captain Luke Evangelista has been keeping up quite the goal scoring momentum this year. Two goals against the Erie Otters on January 21 and another in Guelph on January 22 have Evangelista on pace for the first 50-goal season by a London Knight since 2015-16 when Christian Dvorak hit the number on the nose and the first 60-goal season since Patrick Kane when he put up 62 goals in 2006-07.

If Evangelista keeps up his current production rate he would score 61 goals this year joining Kane, Dave Lowry, Dennis Maruk, Dave Simpson and Dino Ciccarelli as the only players in Knights history to top the 60-goal plateau. Ciccarelli is the all-time record holder. He had 72 goals in 1977-78.

Read more:

McGurn and Evangelista lead London Knights to win to kick off three-game weekend

Houser stays hot

Former Knights goalie Michael Houser is now 4-2 as a National Hockey League goaltender with a .927 save percentage in six appearances with the Buffalo Sabres that have been spread over two seasons.

Houser won his second straight start on Saturday, January 22 as Buffalo beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-3. Houser stopped 30 of 33 shots against the Flyers less than a week after making 44 saves in a 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators.

Houser is doing in the NHL what he did in his final season with the Knights when he posted a .925 save percentage on his way to being named Canadian Hockey League Goaltender of the Year and the Red Tilson Trophy winner as the OHL’s Most Outstanding Player.

Read more:

Capacity limits for Ontario sports teams still more than a month away

Up next

The Knights and Storm will be right back at it on Sunday afternoon in Budweiser Gardens for the fifth of ten meetings between the teams this year.

The game will mark the fourth home game London will have played without fans in attendance.

The Knights are scheduled to play the Saginaw Spirit on January 28 and 29 and the Flint Firebirds on January 30.

All games can be heard on 980 CFPL, at http://www.9890cfpl.ca and on the Radioplayer Canada app.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Call Of The Wilde: Montreal Canadiens fall to Colorado Avalanche in overtime

Montreal played one of their best games of the season Saturday night, despite falling 3-2 in overtime to the Colorado Avalanche. The Canadiens are continuing a five-game road trip through western U.S. Tonight’s loss came after a win in Dallas and an overtime loss in Vegas.

Wilde Horses 

The return of Mike Hoffman and Tyler Toffoli has added composure and maturity to the entire Canadiens roster. They’ve both scored in the limited time they’ve been back in the line-up. The addition of Toffoli has been especially important. Toffoli has racked up points in all three games since his return.

Tonight, Toffoli made a sweet saucer pass to set up Nick Suzuki on a two-on-one for an assist to go with a his two goals in three games. Suzuki then fed Artturi Lehkonen with a perfect pass to get the Canadiens on the board after two periods trailing only 2-1.

The Canadiens tied it in the third and this time it was Hoffman who got the helper as Suzuki got his second point of the night. Suzuki had a terrific game. There are nights when he appears tired and the grind is too much, but all in all, this kid is going to be a terrific pro for years to come. The contract that Marc Bergevin gave Suzuki for eight seasons won’t be an albatross for Jeff Gorton and Kent Hughes, like many of the other Bergevin signings they’ll have to unload.

That Montreal was even in the game was, once again, thanks to outstanding goaltending. Bad netminding would have  made the games look horrendous. Samuel Montembeault has been carrying the load, but he will be out of the line-up now due to a wrist injury. He has a torn tendon that might just mean surgery.

Montembeault has waited his entire hockey life for a chance like this, but just as he truly starts to seize it, he gets injured. What a shame. Hopefully, he won’t be out for long. Word on that will come from the Canadiens organization soon.

So with the Montembeault injury, in steped Cayden Primeau to face a barrage of shots. Primeau rose to the moment holding Montreal in the game. He was particularly sharp in the first period when he faced 23 shots, stopping 22 of them.

Primeau has been looking better with every visit to the big club. He is tracking the puck nicely now and starting to look like the pro Montreal hoped he could be when Trevor Timmins took a flyer on him in the seventh round of the 2017 draft.

There hasn’t been a lot of good come to the Canadiens this season, but the club seems deep in net these days — even if Carey Price doesn’t return to the club. That’s not something they could have said before this season, when one injury would have been devastating.

Now they have three injuries and the goalie has been the strongest player of the night this week.

There was strong work from Ben Chiarot and David Savard in tonight’s contest. Many defensive pairings have gone into Denver and been destroyed by one of the best lines in the league. But the Habs pair was solid against Landeskog-MacKinnon-Rantanen. Perhaps there were some scouts taking note. Chiarot is an unrestricted free agent and will certainly be traded. If someone got interested in Savard that would be a godsend to a rebuilding team.

What a run for the Canadiens on a road trip with three games, earning points against some of the better clubs in the entire league. Baby steps for sure, but they’re still steps.

Wilde Goats 

The Canadiens have managed to stay in the game recently. It’s been thanks mostly to their goalies Samuel Montembeault and Cayden Primeau. Montreal, who still haven’t won two games in a row this season, are on their way to their worst seasonal record in the over 110 year history of the club. They almost put another dubious mark in the books on Saturday night.

In the long history of the NHL, there has been only one team ever that allowed more than 50 shots in three straight games. The Kansas City Scouts allowed more than 50 in three games in March of 1976. It’s hard to believe that these Canadiens were on the verge of the same page.

The Scouts were shockingly bad. In their final 44 games in franchise history — a history that lasted only two seasons — the Scouts won only one game.  Montreal certainly didn’t want to share a record with them.

However, Montreal allowed 51 shots in Dallas, 53 shots in Vegas, then 23 in the first period in Denver. It was looking like new, bad history would be made. But Montreal tightened up in the second and third periods, and instead of being routed with 50-plus shots, they were competitive again.

The Canadiens allowed 46 shots in Denver, but that included an overtime as well. Colorado has only one loss at home in their last 20 games. They’re a powerhouse.

The Habs are figuring some things out, so when they stay in a game against the second best team in the league, behind only Carolina, it’s more appropriate to ease up on the criticism.

Wilde Cards 

It certainly was disappointing when the NHL announced that their players will not go to the Olympics in China this February. The Games start in less than two weeks, and the hockey competition will have players from every other league in the world, except the best one.

It’s not all disappointment for Canadiens’ fans though as they will get a chance to watch one of the Habs’ top prospects play for the American team. Sean Farrell was chosen to represent America. Farrell was a fourth round pick for the Canadiens and ever since that moment has been chewing up two leagues offensively.

He hit the century mark in points last season. He and Connor McDavid were the only players in the entire world, in pro and junior leagues, who got 100 points in the COVID-19 shortened season. Farrell is now at Harvard University where he continues to shine. The freshman has 19 points in 14 games, including eight goals. Farrell gets points wherever he plays. It will be interesting to see him among men at the Olympics, considering that his small frame is his greatest worry.

Not all the teams have been fully named yet. There is strong belief that Kaiden Guhle will be named to the Canadian team. Only three defenders have been named so far, and he is thought to be among the remaining choices to be revealed on Tuesday.

Some former Canadiens will be on the club, though, and they’ll be fun to watch. David Desharnais, Daniel Carr, Mark Barberio and Eric Staal will suit up for Canada.

 

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Rielly, Mrazek lead Leafs to 3-1 win over Isles

NEW YORK (AP) — Morgan Rielly had a goal and an assist, Petr Mrazek stopped 25 shots and the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the New York Islanders 3-1 Saturday night.

Mitch Marner and Pierre Engvall also scored as the Maple Leafs finished a six-game road trip at 3-2-1.

Zach Parise got his second of the season for New York, and Semyon Varlamov made 20 saves. The Islanders lost in regulation at home for the second time in 10 games (7-2-1) after dropping their first seven (0-5-2) at the $1.1 billion UBS Arena.

Engvall helped Toronto regain an advantage when he beat the buzzer with 1 second left in the first period to give the Maple Leafs a 2-1 lead. The 25-year-old forward completed a nifty forehand-backhand maneuver before sliding a puck between Varlamov’s legs.

Rielly made it 3-1 when he buried a cross-ice feed from William Nylander at 9:42 of the second period. Islanders forward Austin Czarnik was caught watching the puck and lost defensive positioning on Rielly. Alexander Kerfoot also assisted on the play.

Marner opened the scoring with a short-handed goal 6:35 into the game. Rielly stripped the puck from Mathew Barzal in the defensive zone and sent a fluttering puck down the ice that Marner tracked down before guiding a puck past Varlamov. Toronto’s alternate captain also scored down a man in the Maple Leafs’ 3-0 win against the Islanders here on Nov. 21.

Parise tied it with 1 minute left in the opening period. Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield sent a bouncing puck into the offensive zone that eluded Toronto’s Timothy Liljgren before Parise roofed a backhand over Mrazek’s glove.

PRE-GAME TRIBUTE

The Islanders honored Hall-of-Fame forward Clark Gillies, who died Friday, with a video tribute and a moment of silence prior to the start of the game. The power forward was one of 16 players to win four straight Stanley Cups and 19 straight playoff series with the Islanders during the dynasty years in the early 1980s. New York also wore a No. 9 decal in the upper right-hand corner of their jersey in remembrance of the former captain.

INSIDE THE NUMBERS

Toronto improved to 8-2-2 in 12 games that have taken place on Saturday this season. … The Islanders fell to 2-10-2 when surrendering the opening goal. ,,, Toronto is 18-3-1 when scoring first. … The Maple Leafs also improved to 19-0-1 when leading after two periods. … New York is now 1-12-2 when trailing after 60 minutes.

UP NEXT

Maple Leafs: Host Anaheim on Wednesday night.

Islanders: Host Philadelphia on Tuesday night.

___

More AP NHL: https://apnews.com/hub/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

© 2022 The Canadian Press

YLW calls on Ottawa to reevaluate COVID-19 protocols for international travellers

Kelowna International Airport is making a call to the federal government, that it is time to review COVID-19 protocols for international travel.

Working with International travellers navigating COVID-19 protocols, testing requirements, and quarantine plans is tough, says the airport director at Kelowna International Airport.

“Right now it’s a mess. It’s very difficult for the traveling public,” said Sam Samaddar.

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The airport is calling on the federal government to review COVID-19 protocols for international travel.

“Why do you need to test passengers arriving on international flights when they’ve already been tested before they board the flight?,” said Samaddar.

He wonders why the federal government is seemingly wasting COVID-19 tests on international arrivals while winding down community testing inside the country.

“We have this domestic need where we don’t have enough testing available in the community,” said Samaddar.

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Global News has heard from air travelers that international COVID-19 protocols have also deterred them from flying internationally.

“We started this process to go to Punta Cana back in July hoping this would be all over with and it’s just snowballed more. I canceled that trip,” said Terry Marshak, a passenger at YLW.

An open letter from the chief medical officers of Air Canada, Toronto Pearson Airport and WestJet asks government officials to shift PCR testing from airports into communities.

“In the most recent week of reported data, over 123,000 PCR tests were conducted at Canada’s airports with an average positivity rate of three per cent. Meanwhile, the positivity rate in our communities is now approximately 30 per cent and could be higher due to the under-reporting of positivity from a lack of tests,” states the letter.

“We need to ensure Canada’s limited testing resources are being used where Canadians need them most—to support our communities, schools, hospitals and long-term care homes.”

Samaddar said he’s reached out to the federal government numerous times but has not received a reply so far.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

Britain says Kremlin working to install pro-Russia leader in Ukraine

WATCH: Canada providing $120 million loan to Ukraine to counter Russian threats

Britain on Saturday accused the Kremlin of seeking to install a pro-Russian leader in Ukraine, and said Russian intelligence officers had been in contact with a number of former Ukrainian politicians as part of plans for an invasion.

The British foreign ministry declined to provide evidence to back its accusations, which came at a time of high tensions between Russia and the West over Russia’s massing of troops near its border with Ukraine. Moscow has insisted it has no plans to invade.

The British ministry said it had information the Russian government was considering former Ukrainian lawmaker Yevhen Murayev as a potential candidate to head a pro-Russian leadership.

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“We will not tolerate Kremlin plot to install pro-Russian leadership in Ukraine,” British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said on Twitter. “The Kremlin knows a military incursion would be a massive strategic mistake & the UK and our partners would impose a severe cost on Russia.”

The British statement was released in the early hours of Sunday, Moscow and Kyiv time, and there was no immediate statement from the Kremlin, or from Murayev.

A foreign ministry source said it was not usual practice to share intelligence matters, and the details had only been declassified after careful consideration to deter Russian aggression.

The Russian Foreign Ministry dismissed the comments as “disinformation,” accusing Britain and NATO of “escalating tensions” over Ukraine.

“We urge the Foreign Office to cease these provocative activities, stop spreading nonsense and finally concentrate its efforts on studying the history of the Mongol-Tatar yoke,” the ministry said on its verified Facebook account.

DEMANDS

The British claims come a day after the top U.S. and Russian diplomats failed to make a major breakthrough in talks to resolve the crisis over Ukraine, although they agreed to keep talking. Russia has made security demands on the United States including a halt to NATO’s eastward expansion and a pledge that Ukraine will never be allowed to join the Western military alliance.

U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Emily Horne said in a statement: “This kind of plotting is deeply concerning. The Ukrainian people have the sovereign right to determine their own future, and we stand with our democratically-elected partners in Ukraine.”

Murayev, 45, is a pro-Russian politician who opposes Ukraine’s integration with the West. According to a poll by the Razumkov’s Centre think tank conducted in December 2021, he was ranked seventh among candidates for the 2024 presidential election with 6.3 per cent support.

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“You’ve made my evening. The British Foreign Office seems confused,” Murayev told Britain’s Observer newspaper. “It isn’t very logical. I’m banned from Russia. Not only that but money from my father’s firm there has been confiscated.”

Britain, which this week supplied 2,000 missiles and a team of military trainers to Ukraine, also said it had information that Russian intelligence services were maintaining links with “numerous” former Ukrainian politicians, including senior figures with links to ex-President Viktor Yanukovich.

Yanukovich fled to Russia in 2014 after three months of protests against his rule and was sentenced in absentia to 13 years in jail on treason charges in 2019.

‘PLANNING FOR ATTACK’

“Some of these have contact with Russian intelligence officers currently involved in the planning for an attack on Ukraine,” the British foreign office statement said.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s Downing Street office also said the British leader was planning to ramp up pressure on Russia this week by calling for European counterparts to come together with the United States to face down Russian aggression.

Earlier, RIA news agency reported that British foreign minister Truss would visit Moscow in February to meet her Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, while Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu and his British counterpart Ben Wallace have also agreed to hold talks.

© 2022 Reuters

Edmonton's Chinatown community fed up with crime, vandalism: 'Nobody feels safe'

A recent rash of crime and vandalism in Edmonton's Chinatown area has some business owners fed up. This comes as the local business association says ongoing calls to the city of Edmonton for more security and cleaner streets are falling on deaf ears. Chris Chacon reports.

Businesses in Edmonton’s Chinatown said a recent increase in crime could be the end for them. The local business association said its calls for more security and cleaner streets are not being answered.

“It’s too much, nobody can take it anymore. It’s a tipping point,” Chinatown and Area Business Association executive director Wen Wong said.

Surveillance video captured outside of Edmonton’s Pacific Mall in Chinatown last week shows an individual smashing several store-front glass windows with a hammer.

“Nobody feels safe, our customers are leaving our community, our members are leaving our community,” Wong said.

And the destruction didn’t stop there.

“On 106th there was another two members, their windows were smashed,” Wong said.

Wong said those business are now out nearly $20,000 dollars to get those replaced.

Hong Kong Bakery owner Chip Tang is all too familiar with the problem.

“It’s hard, it’s expensive, insurance rates have increased. I had that big window smashed a few years ago, that cost like $4,000 to replace,” Tang said.

He said after years of dealing with crime, social disorder and what he said is a lack of police support, there is no hope for Chinatown and that’s bad for business.

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“Look around here, lots of businesses closed because I don’t think they can survive,” Tang said.

Edmonton police chief Dale McFee said Thursday at a police commission meeting that Chinatown needs solutions.

“There’s a significant drug problem. A lot of it is meth related and meth has got some unpredictable violence and we’re seeing that play out,” said McFee.

While no specifics were outlined, EPS is working to address neighbourhood crime.

On Jan. 13 police made several arrests at problem properties in the area.

Police seized thousands of dollars worth of fentanyl, prescription pills and a weapon.

A win for the war on drugs, but businesses in Chinatown said a scene filled with police and yellow crime tape just adds to their loss.

“More than a dozen business members are leaving Chinatown in the next few months for sure,” Wong said.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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