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The Canadian Press

An NCAA hockey tourney first: All 5 Minnesota teams are in

MINNEAPOLIS — For all Herb Brooks accomplished in the world of hockey, the Hall of Fame coach of the heralded “Miracle on Ice” team long held a localized goal of growing the college game in his home state. The NCAA Tournament bracket this year would’ve made Brooks proud. For the first time, all five of Minnesota’s Division I programs made the 16-team field. The regionals start on Friday. “I think that’s a really cool story,” said Minnesota coach Bob Motzko, whose team won the Big Ten Tournament and has the No. 3 overall seed. The men’s college hockey tournament was first staged in 1948. The NCAA’s current 16-team format came in 2003. Joining the Gophers this season are Minnesota State, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association regular season champion; St. Cloud State and Minnesota Duluth, who finished second and third in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference; and Bemidji State, the third WCHA team selected. “Nobody’s slipped in. I can tell you that. All five teams have earned the right to be there, and any of the five have a chance,” said Motzko, who’s in his third season at Minnesota. Motzko’s first year in coaching was as an assistant at St. Cloud State under Brooks, who helped launch the program’s leap to Division I in 1987. Brooks, the former Gophers player and coach who went on to fame at the Olympic and NHL levels until his death in a car crash in 2003, spoke often of his desire for in-state competition for Minnesota and Minnesota Duluth. Minnesota State moved up in 1996, and Bemidji State followed in 1999. St. Thomas will become the state’s sixth and the NCAA’s 62nd Division I program next season, joining Minnesota State and Bemidji State in the new Central Collegiate Hockey Association. “Very happy for the group, because I consider every one of those head coaches a very good friend of mine,” Minnesota State coach Mike Hastings said. “I wish them all the best, and hopefully we can all go and represent the state of Minnesota the way we want to.” With so few schools offering the sport and largely confined to certain areas of the country, college hockey is a tight-knit community. There’s no stronger evidence of that than with the five Minnesota teams. Each head coach was born and raised in the state: Motzko (Austin), Hastings (Crookston), Minnesota Duluth’s Scott Sandelin (Hibbing), St. Cloud State’s Brett Larson (Duluth) and Bemidji State’s Tom Serratore (Coleraine). Motzko, Hastings, Larson and Serratore all spent time as a player or an assistant at at least one other of the Minnesota teams. Motzko’s last trip to the NCAA Tournament was in 2018 with St. Cloud State, when the No. 1 overall seed was upset by Air Force. Now he’s guiding the Gophers to their NCAA-record 38th appearance, a mark matched by Michigan. “It is the craziest tournament,” Motzko said. “Anybody can win, and that’s one of the things that’s changed in the last decade in college hockey. The dividing line now isn’t what it was in the ’70s and even in the ’80s. It is a deeper pool.” Such evolution has allowed programs like Minnesota State, which was ranked sixth in the latest USA Today/USA Hockey Magazine poll, to become more competitive. No team has won more games than the Mavericks (234) over the nine seasons since Hastings became their coach. This will be their seventh appearance in the NCAA Tournament, though they’ve yet to win a game there. Just making it this year was an accomplishment amid the COVID-19 protocols that led to several postponements and constant anxiety. “You were worrying about stringing together weekends, let alone a second half, and knock on wood the guys did a great job up until this point at minding their ‘P’s and ‘Q’s away from the rink and making sure that their bubble is very tight,” said Hastings, whose Mavericks were sent to Loveland, Colorado, to play Quinnipiac on Saturday. Minnesota faces Omaha in the other semifinal, with two wins needed to reach the Frozen Four in Pittsburgh on April 8. In Bridgeport, Connecticut, Lake Superior State plays Massachusetts and Bemidji State faces No. 4 overall seed Wisconsin on Friday. In Fargo, North Dakota, Minnesota Duluth plays Michigan and No. 1 overall seed North Dakota faces American International on Friday. St. Cloud State plays Boston University on Saturday in Albany, New York. The winner will play No. 2 overall seed Boston College, which advanced because Notre Dame was forced to withdraw because of coronavirus issues in the program. ___ More AP sports coverage: and Dave Campbell, The Associated Press

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Olympics-U.S. women to face Australia in women’s football at Tokyo Games



(Reuters) – The U.S. women’s national team will face Australia, Sweden and New Zealand at this summer’s Tokyo Olympics, while in the men’s competition 2016 winners Brazil will take on Germany following the group stage draw on Wednesday.

The American women’s team are the reigning world champions and four-time winners of the Olympic tournament and will start as favourites in Tokyo, with Rio 2016 winners Germany failing to qualify.

Team GB women have drawn 2016 bronze medallists Canada, Chile and hosts Japan. Making only their second Olympic tournament appearance, Team GB will be led by England’s interim coach Hege Riise.

On the men’s side, Brazil will take on Germany, Ivory Coast and Saudi Arabia.

Mexico, the 2012 gold medallists, were pitted against hosts Japan, South Africa and France.

The men’s team are usually restricted to selecting players under the age of 23, with just three overage players allowed.

However, the age bracket has been raised for the Tokyo Games in line with the one-year postponement of the event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


(Reporting by Hardik Vyas in Bengaluru; Editing by Christian Radnedge)

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Rafael Nadal rallies from set down to advance in Barcelona



Top seed Rafael Nadal rallied from a set back to beat Ilya Ivashka of Belarus 3-6, 6-2, 6-4 on Wednesday in the second round at the Barcelona Open in Spain.

Nadal lost serve in the opening game of the match and wasn’t able to break Ivashka’s serve throughout the first set. He won just 70.6 percent of points on his first serve, was broken twice and had two double faults in an uncharacteristically poor showing on service in the opening set.

By the second set, he had righted his serve, winning 86.7 percent of points on his first serve in the second set and 83.3 percent in the third. He didn’t face a break point in either set.

In other action, No. 2 seed Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece, No. 3 Andrey Rublev of Russia, No. 4 Diego Schwartzman of Argentina, No. 6 Pablo Carreno Busta of Spain and No. 10 Felix Auger-Aliassime of Canada were among those advancing.

No. 9 Fabio Fognini of Italy defaulted for verbal abuse. He was losing 6-0, 4-4 to Zapata Miralles of Spain when the line judge reported him for swearing after a foot fault. He had been warned earlier in the match

Serbia Open

Top seed and home-country favorite Novak Djokovic needed just 68 minutes to top South Korean Soon-woo Kwon 6-1, 6-3 and advance to the quarterfinals in Belgrade, Serbia.

Djokovic capitalized on five of his eight service break opportunities in the win. In the next round, he’ll meet fellow Serb Miomir Kecmanovic, the eighth seed, who needed three sets to oust Arthur Rinderknech of France 6-3, 3-6, 6-3.

Also advancing was the No. 2 seed, Matteo Berrettini, who defeated fellow Italian Marco Cecchinato 6-4, 6-3. Fifth seed Filip Krajinovic beat Nikola Milojevic 6-1, 6-1 in an all-Serb match.


(Field Level Media)

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Ice hockey-Women’s world championships cancelled due to COVID-19



(Reuters) -The women’s ice hockey world championships set to be played in Halifax and Truro, Nova Scotia have been cancelled because of a surge in COVID-19 cases in Canada, Hockey Canada said on Wednesday.

The announcement came one day before the 10 teams were to arrive to begin their quarantine ahead of the May 6-16 tournament.

“This is very disappointing news to receive with just a few weeks until the tournament was to begin,” said International Ice Hockey Federation president Rene Fasel in a statement.

“We strongly believe that we had the adequate safety measures in place. In the end, we must accept the decision of the government.”

The IIHF and Hockey Canada were informed by the Nova Scotia provincial government on Wednesday that the 10-country tournament could not go ahead due to safety concerns associated with COVID-19.

Still the news came as a shock after Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer had 24 hours earlier given the event the thumbs- up.

“At five o’clock this morning we were full go and at 7:30 am we were not,” explained Hockey Canada chief executive officer Tom Renney. “That is the way the world is right now and there is only so much we can control.

“At the end of the day there is a bigger game than the one we play here and quite honestly it is about the safety of the general public.”

The cancellation was another blow for the women’s game that has endured a number of recent setbacks, including the folding of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League.

It was also the second consecutive year the Nova Scotia world championships have been stopped by COVID-19.

“Definitely, a little bit of disbelief, a little shock, a lot of emotion,” said Canadian coach Gina Kingsbury, who pulled some players off the ice to deliver the bad news. “This is a group that has been through a lot this past year and two years so they are definitely familiar with disappointing news.”

Both the IIHF and Hockey Canada indicated they plan to play the world championships this year, possibly this summer, in Canada.

“Our intention, and that of the IIHF, is to reconnect with this event as a world championship in 2021 in Canada,” said Renney. “That’s our number one objective. We have every desire to hold this event in Canada.”

(Reporting by Steve Keating in Toronto, Editing by Ed Osmond)

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