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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUND-UP: Wild shutout Predators 2-0

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ST. PAUL  --  Minnesota goaltender Josh Harding stopped all 16 shots he faced to help the Wild shut out the Predators 2-0 at the Xcel Energy Center last night in St. Paul. 

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It's the eighth career shutout for Harding.  Minnesota outshot Nashville 13-3 in the first period, but wasn't able to take the lead.  Former Minnesota-Duluth standout Justin Fontaine finally gave the Wild a 1-0 lead late in the second period and Jason Pominville clinched the win with an empty-net goal with 25 seconds left in the third.  Minnesota is 4-3-3.  Nashville fell to 5-4-1.  The Wild host Carolina tomorrow night in St. Paul.

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Former University of Minnesota hockey star Phil Kessel posted a hat trick to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 4-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks last night in Toronto.  Kessel is a Madison, Wisconsin native and played for Minnesota in the 2005-06 season, where he registered 51 points in 39 games.

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University of Minnesota junior forward Sam Warning of Chesterfield, Missouri is this week's men's hockey "First Star" Player of the Week for the Big Ten Conference.  Warning helped Minnesota to a pair of wins over Bemidji State, which propelled the Gophers to a No. 1 national ranking.  Warning's teammate Justin Kloos of Lakeville is the league's "Third Star" honoree this week.  The freshman from Lakeville notched five points in the two games at Bemidji.  Top-ranked Minnesota hosts No. 5 Boston College on Friday and Sunday of this week.

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Tickets to the "Hockey City Classic" went on sale yesterday.  The outdoor hockey event scheduled for TCF Stadium on Friday, January 17th features the University of Minnesota men's team hosting Ohio State in a Big Ten matchup.  That game will be preceded by the Minnesota women's team entertaining Minnesota State.  Fans can purchase tickets by going to the Gopher athletics Website.  Minnesota is hoping to sell out the stadium for event.

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Despite a woeful start in his Vikings debut, Josh Freeman will remain Minnesota's starting quarterback.  Head coach Leslie Frazier gave Freeman his vote of confidence and the QB will get his second start with his new team in Week Eight against the Green Bay Packers.  The 25-year-old was 20-of-53 for 190 yards and an interception in Monday's 23-7 loss to the New York Giants.  Sunday's game against the Packers is set for 7:30 p.m. at the Metrodome.

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The Vikings have signed defensive back Shaun Prater and waived defensive back Jacob Lacey.  Prater was waived by Philadelphia on Monday.  He played in one game with the Eagles.  The 23-year-old is in his second season out of Iowa.  Lacey did not appear in a game with the Vikings.  He has 257 tackles and six interceptions in 54 career games.

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The State of Minnesota has chosen eight financial institutions from a list of 22 applicants to underwrite 498 million dollars in Vikings stadium bonds.  RBC Capital Markets will be the senior managing underwriter and Wells Fargo and Piper Jaffray are also on the list of firms that will play a role.  The state has not yet set a date to issue the bonds.  Vikings stadium groundbreaking is tentatively set for the middle of next month.

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Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, a Minneapolis native, is receiving an award for his efforts off the playing field.  The NFL Players Association Georgetown Lombardi Award has been given to the All-Pro wideout for his efforts to fight cancer.  Fitzgerald's mother died of breast cancer and he wears his hair in dreadlocks to honor her, because that is the way she wore her hair.

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University of Minnesota acting head coach Tracy Claeys says the team will likely name a starting quarterback on Thursday of this week.  Both Phillip Nelson of Mankato and Mitch Leidner of Lakeville have started games this season and both will play this Saturday against Nebraska, according to Claeys.  Leidner was not feeling well yesterday and Claeys says team medical staff put the signal-caller on medication.  Minnesota beat Northwestern last weekend 20-17 with Nelson sparking the Golden Gopher offense off the bench.  This Saturday's game against Nebraska is set for 11 a.m at TCF Stadium on the U of M campus.

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University of  Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez may be a game-time decision for the Cornhuskers this week at Minnesota.  The Huskers starting signal-caller practiced both Sunday and yesterday as he continues to recover from turf toe that has had him sidelined since the UCLA game on September 14th.  Tommy Armstrong has started the last three games.  Nebraska is 5-1 this season and ranked No. 21 in the nation.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves forward Derrick Williams isn't going anywhere.  The T'wolves have picked up the third-year player's option.  Minnesota had until the end of the month to either exercise the option for 2014-15 or decline it and allow Williams to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.  Williams averaged 12 points and five-and-a-half rebounds in 78 games last season.

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The Timberwolves face the 76ers tonight in preseason action in Philadelphia.  Minnesota will then wrap up exhibition play on Thursday in Detroit  The T'wolves are 3-2 following Sunday's 104-89 win over the Boston Celtics in Montreal.  The Sixers are 2-4.  Tonight's tilt is set to tip at 6 p.m.

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Wild Mountain in Taylors Falls, Minnesota for the 40th-straight year has bragging rights as the first ski area in the Midwest to open for business.  Wild Mountain vice president Amy Frischmon says they had the first hard freeze Monday night and decided to take advantage of it.  Frischmon says crews started making snow but had to stop yesterday morning, so they're not opening with as much snow as usual, but kids can still have a blast.  She says they have one terrain park open and one rope-tow operating.  Frischmon says they plan to continue making snow each night this week and hope to have a chair lift running soon.

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The 109th World Series begins tonight as the St. Louis Cardinals visit the Boston Red Sox in Game One at historic Fenway Park.  It's a rematch of the 2004 Fall Classic, which Boston swept in four games to end an 86-year championship drought.  Fifteen-game winner Jon Lester starts Game One for Boston, while St. Louis counters with 19-game winner Adam Wainwright.  The Cardinals are seeking their second World Series title in three seasons and 12th overall.  First pitch is slated for 7:07 p.m.

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The NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup heads to the "Paperclip" at Martinsville Speedway this week.  With just four races remaining, Jimmie Johnson holds a four-point lead on Matt Kenseth in the standings.  Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick are each 26 points back.  Jeff Gordon is in fifth-place in the playoff standings.

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Sean Scallon
Sean Scallon has been a reporter and Sports Editor at the Pierce County Herald newspaper in Ellsworth since 1998. He holds a bachelors degree in communication arts from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He's also worked at newspapers in Glenwood City, Wisconsin; Marion, Illinois and Shawano, Wisconsin. Sean also works as a sports reporter for other newspapers and websites in RiverTown Multimedia from River Falls to Hudson to New Richmond and Red Wing.
(715) 273-4334
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