Chmelevski notches point in NHL debut
Alex “Sasha” Chmelevski produced an assist and two shots on goal in San Jose’s 5-4 shootout win over Anaheim on February 5. Chmelevski was credited with the secondary helper on linemate Matt Nieto’s opening tally. The assist was the 21-year-old Ukrainian’s first NHL point in his debut game with the Sharks. He was selected by San Jose in the sixth round of the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. Chmelevski totaled 27 points in 42 games with San Jose’s AHL team in 2019-2020. He is slated to spend the bulk of the current season back with the San Jose Barracuda, seeing occasional time with the parent club as an extra forward on the taxi squad.
Kalynuk making strides as a pro
Wyatt Kalynuk went almost 11 months without playing a competitive hockey game. The young Ukrainian, a top Chicago Blackhawks defense prospect, made up for lost time on February 6 in his first professional appearance. Skating for the AHL’s Rockford Ice Hogs, he scored his first goal and tallied his first assist in the club’s season opener. Kalynuk looked comfortable, poised with the puck and hinted that he will be an excellent pro player. He had no difficulties in making decisions at a high speed, competing with bigger and stronger opponents and getting his head back into the game.
Kalynuk, 23, spent the first month of the season with the Blackhawks, practicing and working out with the big club, but not getting into any NHL games. This was a bit surprising, given he was one of college hockey’s top defensemen last season with the University of Wisconsin. He chose to sign with Chicago last summer out of a long list of suitors.
His experience was super valuable, getting to watch NHL games live and practicing with seasoned NHL veterans like Duncan Keith and Connor Murphy. Kalynuk was promoted to Chicago’s taxi squad on February 11 and was expected to make his NHL debut at some point.
Kalynuk inked a two-year, entry-level contract through 2021-2022 at $925,000 per year. He was drafted in the seventh round by Philadelphia in the 2017 NHL Draft, but because he was 20 years old when drafted, the Flyers held his rights for only three years, rather than the traditional four. Kalynuk chose unrestricted free agency after the Flyers’ exclusive negotiation window expired. Free to sign with any club, the Big Ten star narrowed his list of teams from six to three before zeroing in on Chicago, where he hopes to contribute right away.
Svitolina upset in fourth round at Australian Open
World No. 61 Jessica Pegula ousted No. 5 Elina Svitolina in the fourth round of the Australian Open, held February 8-21, by scores of 6-4, 3-6, 6-3. Svitolina had defeated Marie Bouzkova, 6-3, 7-6 (7-5), Coco Gauff, 6-4, 6-3 and Yulia Putintseva, 6-4, 6-0 in the first three rounds. Svitolina’s commanding and attacking performances got her to the fourth round where she was outplayed by a strong-serving Pegula. Svitolina has fallen to players ranked outside the top 25 in the past three Grand Slams.
In other singles action, 2020 WTA Newcomer of the Year Nadia Podoroska defeated Christina McHale, 6-4, 6-4, before losing to Donna Vekic, 2-6, 2-6. Marta Kostyuk lost to Veronika Kudermetova, 2-6, 6-7 (5-7).
In women’s qualifying rounds, Lesia Tsurenko (two), Katarina Zavatska and Anhelina Kalinina (one each) posted wins, while Daria Snigur lost her qualifier.
Women’s doubles saw the team of Lyudmyla Kichenok and Jelena Ostapenko victorious in their first two rounds before losing to Nicole Melichar and Demi Schuurs, 2-6, 4-6. Kateryna Bondarenko and Nadiya Kichenok made it into the second round. Suffering first-round defeats were Nadia Podoroska and Irina-Camelia Begu, and Marta Kostyuk and Aliaksandra Sasnovich.
On the men’s side, Sergiy Stakhovsky won his three-match qualifying round, only to fall in the opening round to Dasan Lajovic, 7-5, 4-6, 3-6, 7-5, 4-6. Dennis Kudla won his first qualifier, then lost in the following round in a walkover.
Yastremska’s doping case appeal denied
World No. 29 ranked Dayana Yastremska’s latest appeal in her doping case was dismissed by the Court of Arbitration for Sport on February 2, meaning she was ineligible to return to competition. The 20-year-old traveled to Australia after being provisionally banned, hoping to be allowed to compete at the Australian Open. Yastremska was first suspended in January for failing an out-of-competition drug test. She tested positive for mesterolone metabolite, a prohibited substance used to boost testosterone.
She first asked that her provisional penalty be set aside, which was denied. She next appealed that ruling to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, which rejected her request. Yastremska has denied using performance enhancers or prohibited substances and now must await final resolution of her case.