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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUNDUP: Love leads Wolves past Pacers

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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota star power forward Kevin Love erupted for 42 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Timberwolves past the Pacers 104-91 at the Target Center. Ricky Rubio dished out 17 assists but had just six points on 2-of-10 shooting. Corey Brewer and J.J. Barea both added 12 points for the T'wolves, who have won two in-a-row after a four-game skid. Paul George posted 35 points and 11 boards to pace Indiana, which has alternated wins and losses over its last six games. Lance Stephenson chipped in with 10 points and as many boards in the setback. Minnesota begins a five-game road trip with a game Saturday night at Utah.

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The U-S men's hockey team is just two wins away from the gold medal. Team USA scored three times in the first period and beat the Czech Republic 5-2 in today's quarterfinals. Minnesota Wild defenseman Ryan Suter handed out three assists in the victory. Spring Lake Park and former Minnesota State-Mankato standout David Backes (BACK-uss) scored a goal and added an assist in the win. Wild forward and Minneapolis native Zach Parise scored a goal, as well. Former Gopher Phil Kessel tallied a goal, and St. Paul native Ryan McDounagh had an assist. The Americans got 21 saves in net from Jonathan Quick. The U.S. will take on Canada in Friday's semifinals. Finland will face Sweden in the other semi. The gold medal match is Sunday.

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Minnesota Wild player Mikael Granlund had a goal and an assist to help his native Finland to a 3-1 upset win over Russia in a Winter Olympics ice hockey quarterfinal game today. The win for Finland moves them into the semifinals to take on Sweden on Friday. The defeat was a major disappointment for Russia, the host country of the 2014 games.

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The United States women's hockey team will skate against the Canadians for the Gold Medal this morning in Russia. Team USA has five current or former Gophers on the roster, including Minnesotans Gigi Marvin of Warroad, Lee Stecklein of Roseville, and Anne Schleper of St. Cloud. Team Canada has three players who once played at Minnesota-Duluth, including Jocelyne Larocque, Carolina Ouellette, and Haley Irwin. The puck will drop at 11 a.m. today.

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Despite the Men's Olympic Hockey Tournament still going on, vacation time is over for the Minnesota Wild. The team returned to practice yesterday afternoon in preparation for their February 27th game at Edmonton. The team is scheduled for another workout at a rink in Edina today. The Wild are currently 31-21-and-7 and sit in sixth place in the NHL Western Conference standings.

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Minnesota State-Mankato women's hockey teammates Nicole Germaine and Danielle Butters, both of Ontario, are WCHA Players of the Week. Germaine is the Offensive honoree, while Butters is the Defensive Player of the Week. They each helped the Mavericks to a weekend sweep of North Dakota. Golden Gopher forward Dani Cameranesi of Plymouth is the WCHA Rookie of the Week. She helped the No. 1 Gophers sweep No. 2 Wisconsin.

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The Golden Gopher men's basketball team lost at home to Illinois 62-49 last night. Minnesota led the entire first half, but the Fighting Illini used hot shooting and stingy defense to take command after halftime. Illinois trailed 14-3 early in the game, but did not give up. Andre Hollins led the way for Minnesota, scoring 15 points. The Gophers are now 17-and-10 overall and 6-and-8 in the Big Ten. Illinois improved to 15-and-12 overall and 4-and-10 in the league. Minnesota plays at Ohio State on Saturday at 5 p.m.

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Twins pitchers and catchers continue workouts today in Fort Myers. Position players are scheduled to report by Friday with the first full squad workout on Saturday. The Twins open spring training play on February 28th against the Boston Red Sox.

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