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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUNDUP: Wild edge Bruins in shootout to clinch playoff berth

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ST. PAUL -- Minnesota captain Mikko Koivu scored the lone goal in the shootout as the Wild edged the Bruins 4-3 to clinch a playoff berth last night at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul.  Jason Pominville recorded two goals and an assist, and Ryan Suter also lit the lamp for the Wild, who have won three in-a-row and currently sit in seventh place in the Western Conference with 96 points.  Suter's tally came with 65-seconds left to help send the game to overtime.  Ilya Bryzgalov made 21 saves plus stopped all three shootout attempts in the victory.  Reilly Smith, Patrice Bergeron and Loui Eriksson all scored for Boston, which has dropped three-of-four but still leads the NHL with 114 points.  Minnesota hosts St. Louis tomorrow night.

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 Storied rivals and former WCHA foes Minnesota and North Dakota square off in the NCAA Frozen Four tomorrow.  The winner will advance to the national championship game two nights later and will face the winner of the Union and Boston College semifinal.  Fourth-seeded North Dakota is 25-13-and-3 on the season.  Top-seeded Minnesota is 27-6-and-6 overall.  Tomorrow's faceoff is set for 7:30 p.m.  Gopher defenseman Brady Skjei of Lakeville says there isn't a lot of "good blood" between the two rivals. 

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The WCHA has named former Minnesota Wild executive Bill Robertson as its new commissioner.  Robertson takes over for the retiring Bruce McLeod, who has served as the league's boss for the past two decades.  Robertson spent 12 years with the Wild, overseeing the team's communications and broadcasting departments, while also forging a partnership with the WCHA and the Xcel Energy Center as home of the league's postseason tournament for a number of years.  Robertson also spent time with the NHL's Anaheim Mighty Ducks, as well as the Anaheim Angels and Minnesota Timberwolves.  Robertson grew up in St. Paul and becomes the third WCHA commissioner ever.

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Minnesota's Kevin Love posted 19 points and 12 rebounds to help the Timberwolves top the San Antonio Spurs 110-91 at the Target Center in Minneapolis last night.  Ricky Rubio scored 23 points and dished out seven assists to pace Minnesota, which has won three of four.  Gorgui Dieng added 12 points and 15 boards in the win.  Boris Diaw and Cory Joseph scored 13 points each for San Antonio, which has lost two of three.  Tim Duncan had 10 points and six rebounds in the loss.  The game was rescheduled after being postponed in Mexico City in December.  

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The Chicago Bulls take on the Timberwolves tonight in Minnesota.  Chicago is 45-and-32 and currently sits tied with the Raptors for the third seed in the East with five games to play.  The T'wolves are just 38-and-38 on the season.  Tip from Target Center is set for 7 p.m.

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The Minnesota Timberwolves forward who was arrested twice in under a week, accused of assaulting his girlfriend and the sending threatening text messages to her, has released a statement -- but it doesn't say much.  26-year-old Dante Cunningham says, "the charges and accusations in my personal life have unintentionally placed my teammates and the organization in a challenging position."  Cunningham adds that he can't comment on the charges until the facts play out through the legal process. On Friday Cunningham was charged with felony domestic assault and accused of choking the woman.  Sunday morning the woman reported that she was receiving messages from Cunningham, which would be a violation of an order of protection filed against him. 

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University of Minnesota athletic director Norwood Teague introduced his new women's basketball coach yesterday on campus.  Marlene Stollings comes to the Gophers from Virginia Commonwealth, where she turned the program around in just two years.  Stollings says she is excited about the opportunity to coach in the Big Ten and be a part of a storied program like Minnesota's.  One of the main goals of Stollings will be to keep top-rated Minnesota high school players in the state to play for the Gophers in college.  Stollings says she wants girls growing up in Minnesota dreaming to play for the Golden Gophers.  Stollings takes over for Pam Borton, who was fired at the conclusion of the season.

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North Dakota State is promoting assistant David Richman to head men's basketball coach.  Richman will take over for Saul Phillips, who left the Bison to become the head coach at Ohio.  The 35-year-old Richman has spent seven years as the team's associate head coach, but has been with the program for a total of 11 years.  NDSU made it to the third round of the NCAA Tournament this season before falling to San Diego State in the Round of 32.

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The 19th-ranked Golden Gopher softball team swept a Big Ten doubleheader at Iowa yesterday by scores of 2-0 and 7-0.  The shutouts were pitched by Sara Moulton and Sara Groenewegen.  Minnesota moved its season record to 30-and-5 and is now 8-and-2 in the Big Ten.  The Gophers host No. 23 Northwestern in three games this weekend, beginning with a 6 p.m. contest on Friday.

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The Golden Gopher football team practiced outdoors for the first time this spring with a spirited 90-minute workout on campus yesterday.  Offensive lineman Tommy Olson of Mahtomedi says it was great getting out in the sunshine and practicing.  Minnesota will hosts its annual spring football game at TCF Bank Stadium this Saturday at 2:30 p.m.  The early indication is the game will be more of a controlled scrimmage.  It is free and open to the public.  The Gophers are slated to have a closed light workout on Friday.

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The Minnesota Vikings have signed wide receiver Lestar Jean (less-TAR JEEN).  The 26-year-old Florida Atlantic product has appeared in 27 games over the last two seasons with the Houston Texans after spending his rookie year on injured reserve.  Jean has 10 career catches for 186 yards and one touchdown.

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 The Vikings are taking a look at LSU quarterback Zach Mettenberger today in Baton Rouge.  Vikings general manager Rick Spielman, head coach Mike Zimmer and offensive coordinator Norv Turner will all be on hand at LSU's pro day and will then meet privately with Mettenberger.

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 The Twins resume their three-game series with the Athletics today at Target Field.  The A's topped the Twins 8-3 in the home opener on Monday.  Phil Hughes will get the ball for Minnesota.  He allowed four runs in five innings in his Twins debut last week against Chicago, but did not factor in the decision.  Oakland will counter with Jesse Chavez.  Today's first pitch is set for 12:10 p.m.

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