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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUND-UP: U.S.men's hockey team gears up for semifinal match-up vs. Canada

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SOCHI, Russia - Thee U.S. men's hockey team hits the ice today against Canada in the second of two semifinals beinning at 11 a.m.  Both teams are unbeaten in Olympic play. 

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The U.S. will be looking to avenge a 3-2 overtime loss to the Canadians in the 2010 gold medal game in Vancouver.  The Americans have ten players on the roster with Minnesota ties, including team captain Zach Parise.  The winner advances to play Sweden or Finland in Sunday's gold medal match.

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Sweden will face the winner of the U.S.-Canada semifinal. The Swedes defeated Finland 3-1 in the other semifinal earlier this morning.  The Finns took a 1-0 lead in the second period on a goal from Olli Jokinen but the Swedes struck back quickly in the same period with goals from Loui Erikksson and Erik Karlsson, the later goal coming off a long slap-shot. Winning goalie Henrik Lundquist made 26 saves. The gold medal game will be on Sunday at 7:00 a.m. while the bronze medal game will be tomorrow.

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The U.S. women's Olympic hockey team blew a two-goal lead late in the third period before losing 3-2 in overtime to Canada, who took the gold medal in Sochi yesterday.  The Canadians scored the game-winner during a 5-on-3 power play for their fourth straight championship at the Winter Games.  The Americans settle for a silver medal for the second consecutive Olympics.  Team USA featured five current or former University of Minnesota players, including Minnesotans Gigi Marvin of Warroad, Lee Stecklein of Roseville, and Anne Schleper of St. Cloud. 

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With the Olympics winding down in Russia, the Minnesota Wild players are getting set to resume regular-season play next week.  The NHL remains on break for the Winter Games, with Team USA in today's semifinals against Canada.  Three Wild players are playing in today's semifinals, but Wild head coach Mike Yeo has put the rest of team through a pair of workouts in Edina this week.  A third skate will happen today, with the team getting tomorrow off.  An outdoor practice is open to the public on Sunday at 11 a.m. at the John Rose Minnesota Oval in Roseville.

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The United States is two up on host Russia in the medal standings.  The Americans enter Friday's events with 25 total with eight gold, six silver and 11 bronze.  Russia is second with 23 total medals.  The Netherlands is third with 22 medals.  The Norwegians have the most golds with 10, two better than Team USA and Germany.

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The University of Minnesota women's basketball team had its four-game winning streak snapped last night.  No. 21 Purdue controlled the game from start to finish and beat Minnesota at Williams Arena 63-42.  Golden Gopher junior star Rachel Banham of Lakeville struggled in the game, scoring just eight points on 1-of-17 shooting.  Minnesota dips to 17-and-10 overall and 6-and-7 in the Big Ten, while Purdue improves to 19-7 overall and 9-5 in the league.  The Gophers travel to Michigan State for a Monday night game.

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The Minnesota Golden Gophers battle the 23rd-ranked Ohio State Buckeyes tomorrow in Columbus.  The Gophers have alternated wins and losses over their last five games following Wednesday's 62-49 home setback to Illinois.  Minnesota sits at 17-10 on the season and 6-8 in the Big Ten.  Ohio State is 21-6 and 8-6.  Tipoff tomorrow is set for 5 p.m.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves begin a five-game road trip tomorrow in Utah against the Jazz.  Minnesota will also make stops in Portland, Phoenix, Sacramento and Denver.  Wolves center Ronny Turiaf will miss some time with a bruised knee.  A team statement says Turiaf is out indefinitely.  The T'wolves have won two in-a-row after Wednesday's 104-91 victory over Indiana.  They are now 26-and-28 on the season.  The 19-and-34 Jazz are at Portland tonight.

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The Minnesota Vikings front office personnel are in Indianapolis for Day Three of the NFL Scouting Combine today.  The defensive lineman and linebackers arrive today.  The quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs will be going through interviews and measurements.  Vikes general manager Rick Spielman says the team will investigate quarterbacks with the potential of drafting one in May.

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Arizona Cardinals General Steve Keim understands that wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald may not retire as a member of the team.  The GM met with the media yesterday from the NFL Scouting Combine, and says he realizes that with the wideout's newly restructured contract that his cap number may be to high next season.  Fitzgerald, a Minneapolis native, signed a new deal that would put his cap number over 23-million-dollars next year, and Keim says they address the number then.  

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Detroit Lions coach Jim Caldwell says the team will take a strong look at getting another receiver in the offseason for balance at the position.  During a press conference at the NFL Combine yesterday, Caldwell said Calvin Johnson is going to continue to be the one who's going to draw double coverage, and whoever is on the other side of the field will have to be able to do some damage against defenders.  Detroit has the tenth pick in the upcoming draft, and analysts say the Lions should be able to find a receiver who can contribute immediately.

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The Chicago Bears are shifting former first-round pick Shea McClellin from defensive end to linebacker.  General manager Phil Emery made the announcement yesterday at the NFL Combine.  McClellin recorded four sacks and recovered a fumble in 14 games last season.

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Former Vikings safety Darren Sharper is pleading not guilty to charges he drugged and raped two women in Los Angeles.  Sharper is also being investigated in similar cases in New Orleans, Las Vegas and Tempe, Arizona, though no charges have been filed in any of those cities.  If convicted of the seven charges against him, Sharper would face up to 30 years in jail.

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Twins position players report to camp today in Fort Myers.  The first full squad workout is tomorrow.  Some players reported early including first baseman Joe Mauer and outfielder Josh Willingham.  The Twins open spring training play on February 28th against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers.

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Former Twin and current Indians reliever Matt Capps will be sidelines at minimum two weeks with an injury in his right shoulder.  Capps had surgery on the same shoulder last season that caused him to miss the majority of the season.  Cleveland has 20 relievers in camp fighting for roster sports.  

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Here are results from first-round action at the 2014 Minnesota State Girls' Hockey Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul:

Class 2A (Thursday):  Hill-Murray 4, Burnsville 1 (final) Class 2A (Thursday):  Eden Prairie 4, Andover 2 (final) Class 2A (Thursday):  Benilde-St. Margaret's 7, Roseau 0 (final) Class 2A (Thursday):  Lakeville North 3, Mounds View 2 (final-overtime)

Class 1A (Wednesday):  The Blake School 3, Alexandria 2 (final) Class 1A (Wednesday):  Red Wing 7, New Ulm 2 (final) Class 1A (Wednesday):  East Grand Forks 8, Litchfield/Dassel-Cokato 1 (final) Class 1A (Wednesday):  St. Paul United 5, Proctor/Hermantown 2 (final)

(St. Paul, MN) --  Here is Friday's slate of semifinal games at the 2014 Minnesota State Girls' Hockey Tournament at the Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul: Class 1A:  The Blake School vs. Red Wing, 11am Class 1A:  East Grand Forks vs. St. Paul United, 1pm Class 2A:  Hill-Murray vs. Eden Prairie, 6pm Class 2A:  Lakeville North vs. Benilde-St. Margaret's, 8pm

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The 2014 Minnesota State Girls' Gymnastics Tournament gets underway today at the U of M Sports Pavilion in Minneapolis.  New Prague is the returning Class A championship team, while Roseville is the defending Class 2A squad.  The Class A team competition begins at 11 a.m. today, with Class 2A competition beginning at 6 p.m.  The state meet continues through tomorrow with individual competition.

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Denny Hamlin is 2-for-2 at Speedweeks and Joe Gibbs Racing is 3-for-3 after Thursday's Budweiser Duels at Daytona International Speedway.  Hamlin won the second duel to go with last Saturday's victory in the Sprint Unlimited.  Hamlin's Joe Gibbs' teammate Matt Kenseth won the first of the duels, grabbing the third starting position.  The pair will start alongside one another in the second row for Sunday's Daytona 500.  Kenseth is a two-time winner of the Daytona 500 and barely edged Kevin Harvick to the line in the first race of the night, beating him by 22-thousandths of a second.  Kasey Kahne (KAYN) was just 63-thousandths of a second behind Harvick for third.  Harvick's near-miss wasn't the worst news he received on the night.  His car failed post-race inspection, meaning his Sunday starting position will be based on qualifying speed.  Austin Dillon will be on the pole for Sunday's 56th running of the Daytona 500.

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