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To grandma with love: O'Reilly hopes to take Cup to big fan
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To grandma with love: O'Reilly hopes to take Cup to big fan

To grandma with love: O'Reilly hopes to take Cup to big fan
Photo Credit: AP Photo/Michael Dwyer
St. Louis Blues' Ryan O'Reilly, center, celebrates his goal with teammates Jay Bouwmeester, left, and Alex Pietrangelo, right. during the first period in Game 7 of the NHL hockey Stanley Cup Final against the Boston Bruins, Wednesday, June 12, 2019, in Boston. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)

To grandma with love: O'Reilly hopes to take Cup to big fan

Ryan O'Reilly should expect another email from his 99-year-old grandmother.

Congratulations from Deirdre O'Reilly are certainly in order after her grandson won the Stanley Cup and the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the NHL playoffs. O'Reilly scored the opening goal for the St. Louis Blues in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to help beat Boston 4-1 and give the franchise its first title in its 51st season.

"You dream of this for so long," he said. "As a kid, that feeling comes back to you of just what it means to win this thing. I still can't believe this. I can't believe I'm here right now and a Stanley Cup champion with this group of guys."

O'Reilly made good on Doug Armstrong's blockbuster trade to acquire him last summer — and the line he told the St. Louis general manager on that initial call: "Let's go win a Cup."

O'Reilly was a major reason for that. He set a Blues record with 24 playoff points and became the first player since Wayne Gretzky in 1985 to score in four consecutive Cup Final games.

"His worth ethic and his production for us all year and then throughout the playoffs, he was just a relentless hockey player for a long time," coach Craig Berube said. "Never quits. Such a smart two-way player. He's a special player."

And O'Reilly did much of it after cracking a rib during the second round against Dallas and doing worse damage in the Western Conference final against San Jose. O'Reilly wanted so badly to excel in these moments that he played through the pain.

"There was a couple tough games, but once you kind of get going and the adrenaline takes over, I didn't notice it," O'Reilly said.

O'Reilly's grandmother watches and emails him from Seaforth, Ontario, where he grew up playing hockey. She bought him multiple pairs of skates when he was a kid and has tracked his progress very closely.

"She's obviously a big part of my career," O'Reilly said.

The 28-year-old center's career hit a new peak this season when he was a finalist for the Selke Trophy as best defensive forward and the Lady Byng for sportsmanlike and gentlemanly conduct. Then he raised his game even further.

After scoring just three goals in his first 22 playoff games, O'Reilly scored five in the past four to carry the Blues to the Stanley Cup.

"He looks energized to me a little bit more, more jump in his stride out there, and he's finishing," Berube said recently. "He gets chances all the time, but he's finishing right now."

This is the time O'Reilly had been waiting for after several soul-crushing seasons in Buffalo. After getting a taste of the playoffs with Colorado in 2010 and 2014, he missed with the Avalanche in 2015 and with the Sabres from 2016-2018.

O'Reilly raised eyebrows on locker cleanout day in Buffalo 15 months ago when he said he'd "lost the love of the game" multiple times throughout a trying season and needed to get it back. The trade to St. Louis last summer changed everything, and now it's back in every possible way.

"It's very refreshing," O'Reilly said. "It just kind of helps remind you what it's all about and why as a kid you play the game to have a chance to win a Stanley Cup and to be a part of a group like this, it just gave me a new life and reminder of how good and exciting this game can be."

O'Reilly stated the obvious that winning is fun, losing is tough and "it eats away at you." It was fun for the Blues in coming back from 1-0 and 2-1 series deficits in the final in large part because O'Reilly helped lead the way.

Following a horrendous faceoff performance in a blowout Game 3 loss, O'Reilly won 43 of 70 faceoffs the next three times out to help the Blues control play and take it to the Bruins.

O'Reilly of course scored some big goals in the process, too. Throughout the season, he earned a ton of respect from his teammates, referring Patrick Maroon to his sports psychologist dad and pulling a team together that had six new faces.

"Off the ice, he's an unreal guy," linemate Zach Sanford said. "Everyone loves him. He's a good guy, he's a nice guy. He's always putting in the work. You see him after practice, leading all these drills on the ice and before games doing all these warmup drills and stuff. Obviously on the ice he's a great player. He's good offensively and defensively. There's not too many guys that can do it at the level he does."

That showed in the Stanley Cup Final that made all those years watching playoffs this time of year feel like they had a purpose.

"The Cup is the ultimate goal," O'Reilly said. "(I was) just trying to go out there and be the spark and try to make a difference."

___

Follow AP Hockey Writer Stephen Whyno on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SWhyno

___

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

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Georgia Sports News

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  • ATHENS Georgia basketball freshman Anthony 'Antman' Edwards has yet to play a second in a college game, but already, he's a legend in the making. RELATED: High-flying Antman' dazzles in McDonald's All-American Game Edwards, who's expected to start for Coach Tom Crean's Bulldogs this season, is being projected as the No. 1 overall pick by Bleacher Report in its 'Way-Too-Soon 2020 NBA Lottery Mock Draft.' 'He's a scoring 2-guard with secondary playmaking ability in the mold of Victor Oladipo,' writes Jonathan Wasserman, comparing the UGA freshman to the top-five NBA pick Crean developed at Indiana. 'Edwards has developed into a ball-screen weapon who can also create his own shot with drives, pull-ups and step-backs.' Edwards recently sat down with the WSB Bulldogs Game Day show and made it clear his mindset is to make it about 'team' at Georgia. 'I came to Georgia where we're a team, we were all highly recruited,' said Edwards, a consensus top-five national recruit out of Atlanta's Holy Spirit Prepatory School. 'We're in this together, no one is separate, and I love all my guys,' he said. 'We're all gelling together, getting to know each other, spending time with each other, building our chemistry and trying to get better as a team.' How's life at @UGABasketball with all the new recruits now in Athens? Here's Ant Man, Anthony Edwards! Go Dawgs! More on the Dawgs Saturdays at 10am on @WSBbulldogs on @wsbtv. pic.twitter.com/Gx2fUcZ4Ek Bulldogs Game Day (@WSBbulldogs) June 25, 2019 Some of that time together has been spent on the football field for conditioning, pushing sleds. DAWG SLEDS pic.twitter.com/SscBZ1PPCL Georgia Basketball (@UGABasketball) June 25, 2019 'We're gonna really kick the training up this offseason after this mandatory seven-day break,' Crean said after last season. 'This is not going to be business as usual.' The post WATCH: Georgia basketball's Anthony Antman' Edwards already projected No. 1 in NBA draft appeared first on DawgNation.
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  • ATHENS It has been said that perception can overtake reality, and while in some instances that's true, it doesn't apply to SEC football. So while it's always a fun read to pick up the preseason magazines, people do so knowing the season will bear out where teams really stand, and how good players and position groups really are. That said, it's worth reviewing how Nashville-based Athlon Magazine editors Steven Lassan and Mitch Light view Georgia, from their preseason rank, to how they think the Bulldogs' position groups stack up. Georgia is the magazine's preseason No. 3 team, and Athlon is predicting the Bulldogs run the table in the regular season before losing to Alabama in the SEC Championship Game. That seems to be the most common narrative across the country: Until the Bulldogs finish the job and beat the Crimson Tide, people won't be convinced. RELATED: Tebow says Kirby ahead of schedule, but needs to beat Bama Never mind that Georgia has led or been tied with the Tide118 minutes and 54 seconds of 120 minutes and 281 of 290 plays of the past two meetings in the CFP title game and SEC title game. Here's where Athlon has the Georgia position groups ranked among the top five, and a quick take on whether it's too high, or too low: Running backs 1. Alabama; 2. Georgia; 3. Florida; 4. Vanderbilt; 5. Auburn About right. If the UGA backfield stays healthy QB Jake Fromm and D'Andre Swift the Bulldogs will beat Alabama in the SEC Championship Game and can claim the best RB unit. Wide receivers 1. Alabama; 2. Florida; 3. Texas A&M; 4. LSU; 5. Missouri Too low. The rankings go seven deep, and Georgia is among those seven. It's understandable, but considering how transfers Lawrence Cager and Demetris Robertson project, UGA should be top 5. Offensive line 1. Georgia; 2. Alabama; 3. Missouri; 4. Auburn; 5. LSU. Spot on. Georgia has six offensive linemen returning with starting experience, including three former FWAA Freshman All-Americans. Four of the five projected starters are likely top 100 NFL Draft picks in 2020. Defensive line 1. Auburn, 2. Alabama; 3. Florida; 4. Texas A&M; 5. LSU; 6. Georgia About right. Sophomore Jordan Davis ranks is a rising star, but this is UGA's weakest group, and that's alarming considering there are five seniors in the rotation. Linebackers 1. Alabama; 2. Georgia; 3. LSU; 4. Mississippi State; 5. Florida Too high. Tae Crowder leads unsettled group. Can Monty Rice stay healthy? Sort out: Azeez Ojulari, Nolan Smith, Brenton Cox, Jermaine Johnson, Adam Anderson, Walter Grant, Nakobe Dean, Channing Tindall, Robert Beal Jr., Quay Walker and Nate McBride. Defensive backs 1. LSU, 2. Florida, 3. Alabama, 4. Georgia, 5. Auburn. Too low. Richard LeCounte and J.R. Reed are the best safety duo in the league, and Eric Stokes and Tyson Campbell rank among the league's best cornerbacks. There's quality depth, as well, with Otis Reese, Divaad Wilson, and Tyrique McGhee pushing, and newcomers DJ Daniel and Tyrique Stevenson impressing. The post Georgia football position groups SEC ranking with Athlon, too high or too low appeared first on DawgNation.
  • Welcome to Good Day, UGA , your one-stop shop for Georgia footballnews and takes. Check us out every weekday morning for everything you need to know about Georgia football, recruiting, basketball and more. The best former 3-star, 4-star and 5-star prospects on the Georgia football team All recruiting rankings are based on 247Sports Composite rankings 3-star recruit: J.R. Reed, senior safety Despite all of Georgia's recruiting success over the past three cycles, Georgia will still be getting a number of contributions from 3-star recruits in 2019. On the offensive side of the ball, Solomon Kindley will be holding things down at left guard. He's started double-digit games in each of the last two seasons, and barring an injury will do so again. Running back Brian Herrien also figures to play an important role, as does wide receiver Tyler Simmons, following the dismissal of Jeremiah Holloman. But it's on the defensive side of the ball where there is even more 3-star talent. Monty Rice is expected to be a starter at one of the inside linebacker spots. Cornerback Eric Stokes had an excellent spring after a strong close to the 2018 season. And he might not even end up being the best 3-star prospect in the secondary, with senior J.R. Reed entering his third season as a starter. Reed wasn't highly thought of as a recruit or as a transfer from Tulsa. But he's become a key piece in the Georgia secondary. After bypassing the 2019 NFL Draft, Reed is expected to be a leader for the Georgia defense in 2019. And it's a challenge that the former No. 1856th ranked prospect in the country is ready for entering his final season in Athens. 'I have to take my role more seriously,' Reed said of his senior season. 'It is a different role than I have had in the past. Now, a lot of it comes on your shoulders. We just have to get everybody leaning in the same direction.' Related: Georgia safety J.R. Reed puts NFL dream on hold to pursue championship goals with Bulldogs 4-star recruit: Andrew Thomas, junior offensive tackle In the four recruiting classes that Kirby Smart has signed, he's landed a total of 58 4-star prospects. Some of them have played well above that already high ranking, as several multi-year starters on Georgia's 2019 team were 4-star recruits. Perhaps the most important 4-star recruit Smart has landed is quarterback Jake Fromm. He was ranked as the No. 44 overall player in the 2017 class, just missing out on 5-star status. In his two seasons at Georgia, he's racked up 23 wins as a starter and thrown 54 touchdown passes. Defensively, nose guard Jordan Davis proved to be a huge difference-maker on the defensive line last season, while outside linebacker Azeez Ojulari has been pegged as a possible breakout player by ESPN. But in terms of pure talent and how they rank amongst their peers, there is no better 4-star recruit on Georgia's 2019 roster than left tackle Andrew Thomas. As a freshman, he started every game at right tackle for a team that played for a national championship. As a sophomore, he started 13 games at left tackle and earned First Team All-SEC honors in doing so. As a recruit, he was the No. 45 overall prospect in the 2017 class, one spot below Fromm. Next April, he's got a very realistic chance of being the first offensive tackle taken in the NFL draft. And while Thomas might not grab or garner a ton of headlines, he might end up being the most talented player on Georgia's team, regardless of their high school recruiting ranking. 5-star recruit: D'Andre Swift, junior running back Georgia has signed 18 5-star recruits under Smart, the most in the country. He's signed a 5-star prospect at every position group and in 2019 signed the No. 1 overall player in the country in Nolan Smith. Guys like offensive tackle Isaiah Wilson and safety Richard LeCounte are both entering their second seasons as starters. Linebacker Nakobe Dean and Smith had standout springs for Georgia. And given Holloman's dismissal, there's a chance we're talking a lot about freshman wide receiver George Pickens come the end of the 2019 season. But running back D'Andre Swift like he often does against opposing defense has put a healthy gap between himself in the field. After rushing for over 600 yards in his freshman season, he topped the 1,000-yard mark as a sophomore. Swift was rated as the No. 33 overall prospect in the 2017 class and just barely earned his 5-star status. Related: NFL draft expert explains what 2 traits really help D'Andre Swift shine Swift is expected to be the focal point of the Georgia offense heading into his junior and possibly final season in Athens. If he can improve off of what he did in 2018, there's going to be a very good chance that Georgia has an incredibly special 2019. UGA WR commit Marcus Rosemy wins Rivals Five-Star Challenge MVP Georgia wide receiver Marcus Rosemy isn't a 5-star prospect. But after his performance in Atlanta on Tuesday, he might be headed that way. Rosemy was named the wide receiver MVP of the Rivals Five-Star Challenge, which featured some of the top wide receiver prospects in the country. The Fort Lauderdale, Fla., native showed off some of his impressive ball skills in Mercedes-Benz Stadium. #UGA commit Marcus Rosemy comes to #Rivals5StarChallenge against a field of the nation's best and walks away as wide receiver MVP. Earned it. pic.twitter.com/hUvSuBOCio Jake Reuse (@ReuseRecruiting) June 25, 2019 Recent 4-star UGA commit WR Marcus Rosemy and QB Brock Vandagriff have been on the same page so far in the #Rivals5StarChallenge 7-on-7 tournament. This was 1 of 3 connections this drive. @ReuseRecruiting @SmallwoodTrent @patrickgarbin @UGASportscom pic.twitter.com/WbqP9AastQ Jack Austin (@jackaustin663) June 25, 2019 #UGA WR commit Marcus Rosemy pulls down the tough grab. #RivalsChallenge pic.twitter.com/4Iy9qPceBw Trent Smallwood (@SmallwoodTrent) June 25, 2019 Rosemy committed to the Bulldogs last week, as he ended up picking Georgia over the Florida Gators. He is rated as the No. 6 overall wide receiver in the class and the No. 39 overall prospect. If he were to just remain at those rankings, he would be the third highest ranked wide receiver Georgia has signed in the past decade, behind only 2019 signees George Pickens and Dominick Blaylock. Related: Expectations rise for freshmen George Pickens, Dominick Blaylock following Jeremiah Holloman dismissal Rosemy is the highest rated of the three wide receiver commits in Georgia's 2020 recruiting class. 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