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The Sports of Canada Portal
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Introduction

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The sporting culture of Canada consists of a variety of games. Although there are many contests that Canadians value, the most common are ice hockey, Canadian football, basketball, soccer, and baseball. Great achievements in Canadian sport are recognized by Canada's Sports Hall of Fame, while the Lou Marsh Trophy is awarded annually to Canada's top athlete by a panel of journalists.

Ice hockey, referred to as simply "hockey", is Canada's most prevalent winter sport, its most popular spectator sport, and its most successful sport in international competition as well as being Canada's official winter sport. Lacrosse, a sport with Native American origins, is Canada's oldest and official summer sport. Canadian football is Canada's second most popular spectator sport, and the Canadian Football League's annual championship, the Grey Cup, is the country's largest annual sports event. Association football, known in Canada as soccer in both English and French, has the most registered players of any sport in Canada.

Other popular team sports include curling, street hockey, cricket, rugby and softball. Cricket is the fastest growing sport in Canada currently. Popular individual sports include auto racing, boxing, cycling, golf, hiking, horse racing, ice skating, rodeo, skateboarding, skiing, snowboarding, swimming, tennis, triathlon, track and field, water sports, and wrestling. As a country with a generally cool climate, Canada has enjoyed greater success at the Winter Olympics than at the Summer Olympics, although significant regional variations in climate allow for a wide variety of both team and individual sports. Major multi-sport events in Canada include the 2010 Winter Olympics.

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The French Connection was a line of professional ice hockey forwards who played together for the Buffalo Sabres of the National Hockey League from 1972 until 1979. The line consisted of Hall of Famer Gilbert Perreault at centre and All-Stars Rick Martin and Rene Robert at left wing and right wing, respectively. All three players were French Canadian; Perreault is from Victoriaville, Quebec, Martin is from Verdun, Quebec, and Robert is from Trois-Rivières, Quebec. The name was related both to the origins of the players and the 1971 hit movie entitled The French Connection, based upon the book of the same name.

The trio excelled together, with each being named to the Official NHL All-Star Team at least once and to the National Hockey League All-Star Game at least twice while playing together as a unit for seven full seasons. Perreault and Martin were the Buffalo Sabres' first-round draft picks in the franchise's first two years, and Robert was acquired late in the franchise's second season via a spring 1972 trade. The players were named to several National Hockey League All-Star Game teams and dominated the Buffalo scoring statistical leadership during their years together. They led the Sabres to the franchise's first Stanley Cup Finals appearance and continue to hold many of the franchise's scoring records.

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The Calgary Tigers, often nicknamed the Bengals, were an ice hockey team based in Calgary, Alberta, Canada from 1920 until 1927 as members of the Big Four League, Western Canada Hockey League and Prairie Hockey League. The Tigers were revived in 1932, playing for a short-lived four years in the North Western Hockey League. They played their games at the Victoria Arena.

Created ostensibly as an amateur team in hopes of competing for the Allan Cup, the Tigers helped form the Western Canada Hockey League in 1921 to become the first major professional team in Calgary. In 1924, after winning both the league and Western Canadian championships, the Tigers became the first Calgary based club to compete for the Stanley Cup. Five Tigers players would later gain election to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

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Joseph Jacques Omer "Jake the Snake" Plante (January 17, 1929 – February 27, 1986) was a Canadian professional ice hockey goaltender. During a career lasting from 1947–1975, he was considered to be one of the most important innovators in hockey. He played for the Montreal Canadiens from 1953 to 1963; during his tenure, the team won the Stanley Cup six times, including five consecutive wins.

Plante retired in 1965 but was persuaded to return to the National Hockey League to play for the expansion St. Louis Blues in 1968. He was later traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1970 and to the Boston Bruins in 1973. He joined the World Hockey Association as coach and general manager for the Quebec Nordiques in 1973–74. He then played goal for the Edmonton Oilers in 1974–75, ending his professional career with that team.

Plante was the first NHL goaltender to wear a goaltender mask in regulation play on a regular basis. He developed and tested many versions of the mask (including the forerunner of today's mask/helmet combination) with the assistance of other experts. Plante was the first goaltender to regularly play the puck outside his crease in support of his team's defencemen, and he often instructed his teammates from behind the play.

Plante was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1978, was chosen as the goaltender of the Canadiens' "dream team" in 1985, and was inducted into the Quebec Sports Pantheon in 1994. The Montreal Canadiens retired Plante's jersey, #1, the following year.

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The Summer Stakes is a Canadian Thoroughbred horse race run annually at Woodbine Racetrack in Toronto, Ontario. Contested on turf over a distance of 1 mile (8 furlongs), it is open to two-year-old horses. Raced in late September/early October, the Grade III event was a Grade II event but in 2006 was downgraded to its present Grade III status. Part of the Breeders' Cup Challenge series, the winner of the 2008 Summer Stakes automatically qualifies for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf.

Inaugurated in 1953 at Fort Erie Racetrack as a sprint race on dirt, the Summer Stakes was moved to the turf in 1962. Since inception it has been run at various distances:

  • 5 furlongs : 1953-1956 on dirt at Fort Erie Racetrack
  • 5.5 furlongs : 1957-1960, 1961 on dirt at Fort Erie Racetrack
  • 8 furlongs (1 mile) : 1962-1984 on turf at Fort Erie Racetrack, since 1985 on turf at Woodbine Racetrack

The Summer Stakes showcases the rise to fame of many horses including Northern Dancer. Northern Dancer won the "Summer Stakes" in 1963 and won 14 of his next 18 races. Northern Dancer was a Canadian-bred thoroughbred racehorse and would go on to be the most successful sire of the 20th Century.

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