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Round of 16 – Predictions! [Part 1]

Ohhh baby! We’re here – KNOCKOUT FOOTBALL!fifa-world-cup-feat21-1024x592

Italy. Gone.

England. Out.

Spain. Bye Bye.

Portugal. See ya later.

With European giants crashing out, the Netherlands held the banner high – but it has been the Americas that have set the World Cup alight. Costa Rica topped Group D, Chile stunned Group B and Colombia scored 9 goals without Falcao – seriously, I’m not making this up.

Toss in a mix of Brazil, Argentina and Uruguay chewing their way through England and Italy, and you have 5 South American sides in the knockout rounds.

And here’s how we see the Round of 16 shaking out:

 

 

Brazil v Chile

Chile to upset Neymar and Co.

Chile to upset Neymar and Co.

Brazil didn’t exactly light the group stage on fire, while Chile showed they are a tough side to beat, a side who can score and counter extremely well.

With the weight of expectations on Brazil sky-high, this match will go two ways: Brazil dominates and scores for fun OR Chile suffocates their stars with pressure and sneaks a one goal win.

While Vidal will be massive in the midfield and the back four have to be spot on, it will be Claudio Bravo who must play the match of his life against Brazil – under siege for 90 minutes, he’ll need heroics to keep his side in it.

Prediction: Brazil 1 – 2 Chile

Man of the Match: Claudio Bravo

 

Colombia v Uruguay

With BiteGate in full effect, the sharks are circling and Uruguay will have to look somewhere other than Luis Suarez for goals. The Liverpool man (For Now…) struck gold for his side against England, and helped inspire them to a win over Italy – but Colombia is scoring goals for fun and Uruguay will find it tough to match their play.

James Rodriguez has impressed so far, I expect him to put on a masterclass against a slower Uruguayan side and push his team to the Quarterfinals.

Prediction: Colombia 1 – 0

Man of the Match: James Rodriguez

Netherlands v Mexico

Netherlands flying into the Quarterfinals

Netherlands flying into the Quarterfinals

The Dutch arrived at the World Cup in style, demolishing Spain but were less than convincing against the Socceroos.

A strong win against Chile put them back as favourites and while Mexico has impressed in their newest system, I fear that the Miguel Herrara’s side lack the depth to go toe-to-toe with the Netherlands for 90 minutes.

Mexico will have to be on point to keep the likes of Arjen Robben and Robin van Persie at bay, not to mention the rest of the lethal Dutch players.

Prediction: Netherlands 3 – 1 Mexico

Man of the Match: Arjen Robben

 

Costa Rica v Greece

Let’s be perfectly clear: the Greeks are here because of a very, very dodgy penalty call. They were boring, harsh on the eyes

Keylor Navas has been a rock in net for Costa Rica

Keylor Navas has been a rock in net for Costa Rica

and possibly the weakest side in the final 16.

Now that i’ve cleared that up: Costa Rica are fantastic.

Fun to watch, hard working and they will make you pay on the counter attack – I expect them to slice up their opponents and serve them up on a platter.

Keylor Navas has been brilliant in net, while Joel Campbell has lit it up and Bryan Ruiz has shown the craft and skill that was once expected of him.

Prediction: Costa Rica 3 – 0 Greece

Man of the Match: Joel Campbell

WORLD CUP: Who should England send to Rio?

fifa-world-cup-feat21-1024x592Roy Hodgson has his hands full as he gets ready to name the 23-man squad that England will send to Rio this Summer, with expectations at an all time low the England manager can shed the so-called ‘Golden Generation’ and focus on the future by sending a youthful team to the World Cup, but will he take the plunge?

Hodgson has snubbed the return of John Terry, the walking wounded continue to pile up as Andros Townsend, Theo Walcott, Jay Rodriguez and now Phil Jones have been hit with the injury bug, while stalwarts like Frank Lampard, Ashley Cole and Jermaine Defoe have struggled for first team action or in the latter’s case, failing to score against less than quality opposition.

For me, there are only four players who I would put money on to start against Italy in England’s opener June 14th: Joe Hart, Gary Cahill, Wayne Rooney and of course, Captain Steven Gerrard (If he’s done coughing up the title by then…). Outside of those four, there’s question marks around health, formation and of course experience verse youth – with the question being, who which will Roy go with?

In the spirit of useless predictions (Because, why not?), here is our prediction for the 23-man squad that England should send to Rio.

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart, Fraser Forster, Ben Foster

Defenders: Glen Johnson, Leighton Baines, Steven Caulker, Gary Cahill, John Stones, Luke Shaw, Phil Jagielka

Midfield: Steven Gerrard, Jordan Henderson, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Raheem Sterling, Adam Lallana, James Milner, Ross Barkley, Michael Carrick

Striker: Wayne Rooney, Daniel Sturridge, Danny Welbeck, Andy Carroll

Snubs: John Ruddy, Ashley Cole, Frank Lampard, Rickie Lambert, Jermaine Defoe, Chris Smalling

So you may be saying “Henry, you’re bloody crazy – what are you thinking?!” – well, maybe, maybe that’s true. However, the 23-man squad listed is a great mix of experience versus youth and finally gets rid of some of the shackles of the Golden Era – why send Ashley Cole and Frank Lampard, when we’ve apparently got no-shot at winning the World Cup but young players who can gain experience instead?

Sure, John Stones is an outside shot – but why not him? He’s been outstanding for Everton this season and while new on the senior level, has shown he can play against some of the

Potential Starting XI

Potential Starting XI

best Strikers in the world.

Jordan Henderson? Are you crazy? Yeah, I struggle with this a lot – but you can’t deny how well Henderson has partnered Steven Gerrard this season at Liverpool, why not give the kid a shot? Jack Wilshere is there if the experiment fails, plus you’ve got the reliable Michael Carrick (Well, if he remembers how to pass after his abysmal season…) to fall back on in case of injuries.

Taking Andy Carroll over Lambert or Defoe, now you’re crazy – well, maybe not? Andy Carrol has been very strong in his return after a struggle to overcome injuries this season, plus he offers a threat that none of our other forwards do. Defoe has failed to impress in Major League Soccer, and those defences are brutal, plus Rickie Lambert has failed to hit the mark this season.

But, now it’s your chance – let me know what you think and who YOU would send to Rio for England – leave a comment or two and let me know how wrong you think I am.

Henry writes about his two passions the Beautiful Game and the Brutal Game – whether you’re a die hard Soccer fan or passionate hockey fan, he’s got you covered. 

You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , where he live tweets about sports far too much.

We’re back!

Slightly drunk, slightly awkward but what a party.

Slightly drunk, slightly awkward but what a party.

A year, it’s been a whole year since I last posted here on The Ignorant Sports Fan.

Last year I was living in Halifax, breaking the Dalhousie Tigers Women’s Hockey hazing scandal and enjoying some love from Deadspin and others – fast forward a year and i’m living in Ontario, writing for Radio and watching it snow in April. Yeah, April.

Oh and somewhere in between I was in the Top 24 for Drafted, celebrated the Halifax Mooseheads win the Memorial Cup, got addicted to board games and went to Jamaica.

Well, i’m back and finally on the horse to get some articles pumping out plus i’m finally launching a podcast, which will be up on itunes shortly.

Here’s to bigger and better things moving forward!

– H

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Henry is a former  writer for Sportstream.ca  and Host of the The Sports Show on 88.1 in Halifax. Now residing in Ontario, You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , where he live tweets about sports far too much.

The Battle for the Cup: First Round Predictions

SCF2014Well, it’s that time of the year again – 16 teams get ready to battle for the ultimate prize in hockey, the Stanley Cup.

Things have returned to normal with a Maple Leafs epic collapse, the Flyers making a crazy signing (Andrew MacDonald six years, $30m? What the hell?) and Canada clinging to slim hopes of the Cup returning North of the border.

So without further adieu, here’s my look at the first round of the playoffs:

 

Eastern Conference

Boston Bruins v Detroit Red Wings

Detroit switched over to the East, still makes the playoffs for a 23rd time – should provide a tough matchup for the Bruins? Not a chance. The Red Wings were plagued by injuries, sure they made the playoffs, but not sure Babcock can wizard up a series win against a championship calibre Bruins team.

bruinsIf there is an upset in the first round, it could be in this series – Detroit know how to win against the odds and they managed to do it all season missing key players (Read: Zetterburg, Datsyuk).

Prediction: Bruins win in 6

– –

Tampa Bay Lightning v Montreal Canadiens

It all starts at the back for the lightning and without Ben Bishop in the lineup, it’s going to be all up-hill against the Canadiens. Jon Cooper says the Bolts could have him back sometime in the series, but how much truth is in that? Price got the monkey off his back in Sochii, showing he can handle the pressure, he’s the difference maker in this series.

canadiensHeck, maybe it’s my blatant patriotism (Yes, Quebec is still part of Canada Folks), but i’m pulling for the Habs to knock back the bolts and head into the second round, after that all bets are off.

Prediction: Habs win in 7

– –

Pittsburgh Penguins v Columbus Blue Jackets

One Word: Sweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep.

Actually, if we’re honest, it’s a five game series because Fleury is due to throw up at least one duck in this series. Fedor Tyutin and James Wisniewski will have their hands full with the talent of the top six of Pittsburgh, while Sergei Bobrovsky would need to steal four games for the Blue Jackets to win this series.

penguinsBut it’s not all doom and gloom for Columbus, a team that is heavy on young talent and will look to take the most out of this post season experience.

Prediction: Penguins in 5

– –

New York v Philadelphia

So many story lines in this series from Alain Vigneault, to Brad Richards, to Vincent Lecavalier – where to start? This series could be a bloodbath and home ice advantage could be the edge as the Rangers have owned the Flyers at Madison Square Gardens. For Brad Richards it can’t possibly be worse than last year’s post season, right? Who ended the playoffs firmly scratched from the lineup. 

rangersSteve Mason is the biggest question mark for me, can he stand tall between the Flyers pipes, or will he get a master class from his opposing number in Henrik Lundqvist?

Prediction: Rangers in 7

 

Western Conference

Anaheim Ducks v Dallas Stars

Speed will be the straw that breaks the camels back in this series, with the camel being the Stars. The duo of Getzlaf and Perry tore up the Stars, while this is the final chance for Selanne to win the Cup, providing a dynamic catalyst for the Ducks this post-season.

I’ve always liked Bruce Boudreau’s shit-kicker attitude and this could be a fun team to watch in a very strong Western Conference (What else is new?). I just don’t see a way for the DucksStars to hang with the big boys in this one, they’ll be lucky to steal a game.

Prediction: Ducks in 5

– –

San Jose Sharks v LA Kings

Last year the Sharks and Kings battled it out in one of the most exciting playoff series’ (We’re not talking about that team from Toronto today), with Jonathan Quick being stellar and home ice being the winner after it was all said and done.

A physical massacre, everything left on the ice and a hobbled team moving forward for whoever wins, a shame really, with these two championship teams, that someone has to go sharkshome so early. The Sharks have been so close, so many years to really making a splash – for me – this is their year. Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau, Logon Couture and Joe Pavelski provide a high-powered offence, that hopefully Antti Niemi can hide behind.


Prediction:
Sharks win in 7.

– –

Colorado Avalanche v Minnesota Wild

There’s no secret that i’m a big fan of Nathan MacKinnon – but the Avs have struggled for consistency up front – and the rookie will need to step up in the playoffs alongside Gabriel Landeskog, Paul Stastny and Ryan O’Reilly, especially without offence catalyst Matt Duchene.

Bryzgalov has filled in nicely for Harding and will be expected to stand on his head to snuff out the Avs, but the Wild have offence if they can start firing – let’s not forget they have avalancheZach Parise, Matt Moulson, Mikko Koivu and veteran Jason Pominville tucked away in Minnesota. All that without mentioning Ryan Suter and Erik Johnson on the backend.

Prediction: Avs sneak this one in 6

– –

St. Louis Blues v Chicago Blackhawks

With Ryan Miller in net, more offensive power than last season and the highest wins in Franchise history, the Blues are hoping they can overcome injuries to get past the Blackhawks. TJ Oshie, Vladamir Sobotka, Brenden Morrow, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Tarasenko and David Backes have all been hurt as of late and that doesn’t bode well for the Blues.

The Blackhawks will need their top two to set up, with Kane/Toews not having their usual standout seasons, but the defending Champions have kept their core together and are hawkslooking to repeat. Their biggest question mark remains between the pipes, will Corey Crawford return to his playoff form from last year?

Prediction: Blackhawks in 5.

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Henry is a former  writer for Sportstream.ca  and Host of the The Sports Show on 88.1 in Halifax. Now residing in Ontario, You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , where he live tweets about sports far too much.

Big Horns beat Trojans for Munro Cup

Screen shot 2013-03-10 at 8.51.53 AM

The Big Horns rode their luck late as they won their first Munro Cup Saturday night in three years, in front of a rowdy Residence Crowd.

Despite leading by two goals with less than two minutes to play, the Big Horns were forced to overtime and ultimately a shootout, where Haiden Goltz scored the winner for a 7 – 6 final over the Trojans.

The win snaps a two year losing streak and saw a wild on-ice celebration in front of the hundreds of Big Horns faithful that made the trek to the Halifax Forum.

The ultimate winner of the night was the IWK, who were presented a check for $16,000 by the Residence Charity Face-Off, an organization that has now raised over well over $100,000 through their annual fundraising initiatives.

The Trojans opened the scoring early with goals from Connor Hirtle and Alex Dawson, giving the visitors in Orange a 2 – 0 lead.

It was the last time the Trojans would lead however, as the Big Horns rallied back with four straight goals, including a highlight real goal from Haiden Goltz to make the score 4 – 2 after two periods.

Jonathan Sisokin clawed a goal back for the Trojans to start the 3rd period, but Max Starkman answered back less than 30 seconds later to restore the two goal lead at 5 – 3.

With David Taylor putting on a clinic in net for the Big Horns, Scott Stewart added a goal to make it 6 – 4 with 10:10 left in the game.

In breathtaking fashion Trojans Captain Allison snapped a shot past Taylor, giving his team a chance with just 1:16 left in the game.

Then with the net empty, Kyle Gardiner sent the game into overtime, tying the game up at 6 – 6.

Seemingly exhausted, both teams failed to make their chances count in overtime and the game was destined for a shootout.

In the shootout, the Trojans were unable to beat goaltender Taylor who stopped shots from JJ Allison, Alex Dawson and Connor Hirtle.

Goltz, who had just returned from serving a 10-minute misconduct, slotted the game winner past Spencer Aldred to give the night a spectacular end.

– – –

Henry is a writer for Sportstream.ca  and Host of the The Sports Show on 88.1 CKDU  every Thursday Morning at 9am. You can follow him on twitter at @HenryWhitfield , where he tweets about sports far too much.

CIS Final 8: Predictions

With Canada’s best University Basketball teams heading over to Ottawa this year to battle it out for National honours, we decided to put together some predictions (Why? Well, why not?).

Mavs Gillis, Henry Whitfield and guest Armaan Ahluwalia from North Pole Hoops threw down their predictions:

– – –

Quarter-final #1: No. 7 Lakehead vs. No. 2 Cape Breton

Armaan: Even though Lakehead has the experience of making nationals for four years in a row they will be without Ryan Thompson due to a lower body injury. I think that even with CIS Defensive POY Greg Carter I think CBU pulls it out. This is the closest game to call in the opening round. CBU by 5

Henry: Jimmy Dorsey under the lights at Scotiabank Place, lots of respect to Lakehead but the Orange Army will put CBU over the top.

Mavs:

Quarter-final #2: No. 6 McGill vs. No. 3 Ottawa 

Armaan: Ottawa is starting to pick up steam and with their near beating of Carleton they can run with anyone in the country, Warren Ward and Johnny B are too much for RESQ champs McGill. Ottawa by 15.

Henry: Tough to look past Ottawa in this one, they should handle McGill and move onto the Semis without too much fuss.

Mavs:

Quarter-final #3:No. 5 Acadia vs. No. 4 UBC

Armaan: This could be the other close match of the day as they have both been in the top half of the rankings for most of the season. UBC led by 5th year guard Doug Plumb will give Acadia everything they can handle.  Acadia puts up a good fight but doesn’t make it past the first round, UBC by 5 points.

Henry:  Acadia has one of the deepest teams heading to Ottawa, look for Klassen to shine on the national stage. Acadia win this one by a single possession.

Mavs:

Quarter-final #4:No. 8 Victoria vs. No. 1 Carleton

Armaan: Carleton is playing like, well Carleton. Need I say anymore? This is however the one time in the tournament that is the best time to try and upset them before they start to build their momentum. Victoria will fight but watch Carleton lock them down as the game goes on. Carleton by 18

Henry: The Ravens are favourites once again, this could turn into a blowout pretty quickly. Carleton moves onto the Semifinals.

Mavs:

Semifinal #1: Winner Game 1 v Game 2

Armaan: No. 2 Cape Breton v No. 3 No. 3 Ottawa   – Yes CBU fans are starting to not like me right now. I think that Ottawa’s dynamic duo of Warren Ward and Johnny B will be fun to watch play against JD3 and company. CBU should have the advantage slightly down low but I think with the Ottawa faithful on hand they take it in a close one.

Henry: CBU v No. 3 Ottawa  – This is going to be a barn burner, but i’m looking at a magical CBU run this year, so Dorsey keeps it churning and CBU punches their ticket to the finals.

Mavs:

Semifinal #1: Winner Game 3 v Winner Game 4

Armaan: No. 4 UBC v No. 1 Carleton – Again Carleton is playing top basketball and once they make it to the semi’s it’s hard to stop them. UBC will throw everything at them but the Ravens will be too much and UBC will be playing for Bronze. Scrubb and Scrubb take over and march onto the final in their hometown.

Henry: No. 5 Acadia  v No. 1 Carleton – Acadia’s run comes to an end, Carleton is just too deep and they’ll be playing for another title Sunday.

Mavs:

Bronze Medal: Loser Semifinal 1 v Loser Semifinal 2

Armaan: No. 2 Cape Breton v No. 4 UBC – Doug Plumb and company push CBU to the bring pulling out a close victory. Cape Breton will make it close and this game is going either way by a basket. UBC takes it, but I think CBU has the fire power to answer back

Henry: No. 3 Ottawa  v No. 5 Acadia  – A medal for the hosts is how this one ends, Ottawa gets a third place finish over Acadia.

Mavs:

Gold Medal: Winner Semifinal 1 v Winner Semifinal 2

Armaan: No. 3 Ottawa  v No. 1 Carleton – This would be the dream final for Ottawa and would do wonders to the hype after all of the great games these teams have played together this season. #1 Carleton even with the crowd split beats their cross town rivals in an amazing game giving Dave Smart and company another McGee trophy, their trophy case might need some expanding.

Henry: No. 2 Cape Breton v No. 1 Carleton – Dave Smart gets another national Championship, picking up his third in a row

Mavs:

– – –

Whichever way the games go, this weekend promises to be another great display of Canadian University Basketball.

 

 

Moose Stars of the Week

Darcy Ashley scored four goals in a 7-1 blowout

Darcy Ashley has been rolling as of late

The kids from Halifax continue to dominate the headlines, rolling off win after win, with their most recent winning streak at 10 games after going 3/3 i  Quebec last week.

Wins over Shawinigan, Rouyn-Noranda and Val d’Or helped keep the Halifax Mooseheads ranked #1 in the CHL for the second straight week, solidifying their place at the top of the rankings.

To top off the plaudits star forward Jonathan Drouin was named 1st Star in the QMJHL for the month of February, he picked up 28 points in just 11 games and he has extended his point streak to 26 games, the longest in the QMJHL this season.

Here are your Sportstream 3 Stars of the Week:

 

3rd Star – Darcy Ashley (2 Goals, 1 Assist) 

The Summerside native has continued to provide scoring when needed, his energy has been big in tight games and continues to show the hard-nosed two-way play that has become typical of the small forward.

 

2nd Star- Marty Frk (2 Goals, 3 Assists)

Marty Frk continues to provide goals and assists as needed, he’s been playing great hockey as of late and while he’s been overshadowed by Drouin, he’s been a big part of the Mooseheads success so far this season.

 

1st Star  – Jonathan Drouin (3 Goals, 2 Assists, 9 SoG)

What can’t you say about this kid? He’s dynamic and continues to light up the league, his points total speaks for his play and he’s been winning League awards all over the place for a reason.

 

Last Weeks Results

Feb 27th Halifax 4  – 2 Shawinigan

Mar 1st Halifax 5 – 2 Rouyn-Noranda

Mar 2nd Halifax 4 – 3 Val d’Or

 

Upcoming Games

Mar 6 Halifax @ Acadie-Bathurst

Mar 8 Moncton @ Halifax

Mar 10 Halifax @ Moncton