As sports returned en masse in 2021, a wide range of Canadian athletes led Twitter conversations, sparked by triumphs, a few surprises and a few setbacks as well.
For the first time since the Vancouver Canucks lost to the Boston Bruins in 2011, the hockey world got to see a Canadian representative in the Stanley Cup Finals when the Montreal Canadiens (@CanadiensMTL) faced off against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Although they didn't lift Lord Stanley's trophy, the Canadiens ended 2021 as the Canadian NHL team with the most account mentions for the first time -- more than their arch rivals the Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs), who lost to the Habs in a seven-game shocker in the first round. #GoHabsGo was also the sports hashtag most used by Canadian sports fans on Twitter this year.
— US Open Tennis (@usopen) September 10, 2021
Teenage tennis sensation Leylah Fernandez (@LeylahFernandez) took over the 2021 U.S. Open when she made a fairy-tale run to the final of the Grand Slam.
Fernandez defeated four competitors ranked in the world's top 25 (at the time), including Naomi Osaka, Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka.
Unfortunately, like the Canadiens, Fernandez fell just short of winning it all, but for her efforts, she ended 2021 with the most Twitter account mentions amongst Canadian women athletes. During her U.S. Open run, more Canadians were talking about Fernandez on Twitter than any NFL athlete during the opening weekend of the season.
Canadian women owned the podium in the Olympics in Tokyo. Swimmers Penny Oleksiak (@OleksiakPenny) and Maggie Mac Neil (@mags_swims26) led the way, each earning an individual medal and both contributing to a silver and bronze in the 4x100 metre freestyle and 4x100 metre medley relays, respectively.
Moving to the Olympic soccer pitch, the Canadian women's team (@CANWNT) reached the top of the podium when it defeated Sweden in penalty kicks. The gold-medal-winning kick from Julia Grosso (@GrossoJulia) was the biggest Canadian Twitter moment of #Tokyo2020 in terms of conversation volume.
— Team Canada (@TeamCanada) August 6, 2021
Here are the Canadian athlete and team accounts with the most mentions in 2021.
Athletes - Men
Jamal Murray (@BeMore27) - basketball
Chase Claypool (@chaseclaypool) - football
Alphonso Davies (@AlphonsoDavies) - soccer
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (@shaiglalex) - basketball
Connor McDavid (@cmcdavid97) - hockey
Athletes - Women
Leylah Fernandez (@LeylahFernandez) - tennis
Bianca Andreescu (@bandreescu_) - tennis
Penny Oleksiak (@OleksiakPenny) - swimming
Janine Beckie (@JanineBeckie) - soccer
Christine Sinclair (@sincy12) - soccer