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WISCONSIN SPORTS ROUND-UP: U.S. men's hockey team loses to Canada 1-0

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SOCHI, Russia - The United States lost a 1-0 game to Canada today in the semifinals of the Winter Olympic men's hockey tournament in Sochi.

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Jamie Benn of the NHL's Dallas Stars had the game's only goal at 2:41 into the second period. Carey Price made 31 saves to shut down a high-powered U.S. offense, which came in as the tournament's top scorers with 20 goals in four games.  U.S. goal-tender Jonathan Quick made 37 saves -- including some acrobatic moves which kept the score at 1-0.  He was pulled in the final moments, but not even an extra offensive player could help the U.S. get a shot during that stretch.  Madison area native Phil Kessel and ex-Badger Ryan Suter each had 2-minute penalties -- the only ones of the game for the Americans.  Canada will now play for back-to-back gold medals on Sunday in the title contest against Sweden.  The Americans will play Finland tomorrow for the bronze medal.

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U.S. speed-skater Jessica Smith -- who trains in the Milwaukee area -- took fourth place in the women's one-thousand meter short track event.  She finished 24-hundredths-of-a-second behind the bronze medalist, Shim Suk-Hee of South Korea.  Seung-Hi Park of South Korea won the gold.   The U.S. Olympic long-track speed-skaters will leave Sochi without any medals for the first time since 1984.  The American men and women were both eliminated this morning in their final events -- the quarter-finals of their respective team pursuits.  The U.S. men's squad of Shani Davis, Brian Hansen, and Jonathan Kuck finished in seventh place after losing to Canada in their head-to-head race.  All three of the American skaters had trained in West Allis at the Pettit National Ice Center.  On the women's side, West Allis athlete Jilleanne Rookard was part of the American team that lost to the Netherlands by 3.06 seconds.  The Netherlands will face Japan in the women's semi-finals tomorrow, and Russia will go against Poland.  For the men, Canada takes on South Korea later today.  The Netherlands will face Poland, as the Dutch hope to expand upon their record 21 speed-skating medals they've won so far at Sochi.  

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Green Bay Packers' Head Coach Mike McCarthy says the defense needs to be utilized better, handling more responsibility and quote, "emptying our guns each and every week."  At the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis today, McCarthy told reporters, "We're taking too much home with us after we're playing games."  He said the goal will be to give players more than one role, using more defenders in the flow of the game.  He also said defensive lineman Datone Jones needs to be on the field more.  Jones is entering his second year, and McCarthy said a training camp injury set him back in his rookie season.  McCarthy also denied reports that he wants a smaller defensive line.  If anything, he said quote, "You always want to get bigger, stronger, and faster."  McCarthy's comments were spurred by a question of how the Packers could ever contain read-option quarterbacks like San Francisco's Colin Kaepernick -- who literally ran his way to victories over the Packers in the last two post-seasons.  McCarthy said another player who needs to step up next year is Micah Hyde.  The second-year corner could move to safety in 2014.  McCarthy says Hyde is a quote, "multiple-position player" who should play all three downs on defense.

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All three of NASCAR's major series are making their 2014 debuts this weekend.  It all starts tonight with Camping World Truck Series race at Daytona.  Johnny Sauter of Necedah and Travis Kvapil of Janesville are both entered in the Next-Era Energy Resources 250.  Sauter was 15th in his most recent practice run, and Kvapil was 16th.  Also, the second-tier Nationwide Series makes its season debut at Daytona with the Drive-For-COPD-300 tomorrow afternoon. Sauter and Matt Kenseth of Cambridge are both entered in that event.  The big event, of course, is the Daytona-500 on Sunday.  It's known as the Great American Race, as well as the season opener for NASCAR's top Sprint Cup circuit. Kenseth, the top Wisconsin driver in the series, is starting third on Sunday after winning one of the 150-mile Budweiser Duel qualifying races last night.  Paul Menard of Eau Claire starts 10th, and Beloit-born Danica Patrick will start 27th.

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The University of Wisconsin football team reportedly has a new running backs' coach.  Football-Scoop.com says the UW has hired former Georgia running back Thomas Brown.  The 27-year-old Brown coached the backs at Marshall last year, and at Chattanooga in 2012.   He replaces Thomas Hammock, who was recently named the running backs' coach for the NFL's Baltimore Ravens.

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The UW-Milwaukee women's basketball team will try to break a four-game losing streak when it hosts Youngstown State tonight.  The Panthers have lost 8-of-their-last-10, after falling at Illinois-Chicago 79-54 on Monday night. Milwaukee is 3-8 in the Horizon League and 7-17 overall under second-year coach Kyle Rechlicz.  Youngstown State is a game behind first-place UW-Green Bay in the conference standings at 7-3.  The Penguins are 11-12 overall, after losing at Valparaiso 84-56 last Saturday.  Heidi Schegel is the only Youngstown State player who averages in double-figures with 19-and-a-half points per game.  Senior guard Angela Rodriguez leads UWM in scoring with just over 17 points a game.  

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The UW-Green Bay women's basketball team will go for its eighth straight victory tonight, when it hosts Cleveland State.  The Phoenix are 8-2 in the Horizon League after a 1-and-2 start in conference play.  They're 15-7 overall. Cleveland State is 8-3 in the league -- a half-game behind the first-place Phoenix.  The Vikings are 13-11 overall.  Green Bay has not played since last Saturday, when the Phoenix beat UW-Milwaukee by 12 points.  Sophomore Kaili Lukan leads UWGB in scoring with just over 12-and-a-half per game.  Senior Breanna Ranger is the Phoenix' leading rebounder with seven boards per night.  Cleveland State comes in with a five-game winning streak, including a five-point win over Detroit last Saturday in which the Vikings made a school-record 17 three-pointers.  Imani Gordon of Cleveland State is among the league scoring leaders with 17 per contest.  She's also second in the conference in rebounding with almost nine-and-a-half boards per game. 

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There's a light schedule tonight in Wisconsin Division-Three college basketball.  Northland College of Ashland is scheduled to play a men's-and-women's double-header at Northwestern College of Minnesota.  And the Maranatha Baptist men head to Chicago to play the Moody Bible Institute.  Most other Wisconsin D-III schools resume conference regular season play tomorrow.  The Northern Athletics Collegiate Conference will begin their league tournaments tomorrow for both men-and-women.  Marian of Fond du Lac has the top seed after winning the league title.  The Wisconsin Lutheran women take a 20-game winning streak into their league tourney.  

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The playoffs begin tonight in the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association.  Eight teams will play two-game Harris Cup series the next two nights.  Any series that ends in a tie will be settled with a 20-minute mini-game.  Saint Norbert -- the nation's top-ranked Division III team -- has the No. 1 seed in the league tournament with a 16-2 NCHA record.  The Green Knights will open their post-season at home against Lawrence of Appleton.  Second-seeded Adrian of Michigan will host the Milwaukee School of Engineering.  Concordia-Wisconsin plays at Saint Scholastica of Duluth.  And Marian travels to Lake Forest.  The NCHA women will open their playoffs next weekend.

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The eighth-ranked University of Wisconsin men's hockey team will play its final home series of the regular season tonight and tomorrow against Michigan State.  The Badgers remain second in the Big Ten, seven points behind Minnesota, and five ahead of Michigan and Ohio State.  With a sweep, Wisconsin would set a new team record for home wins in a season.  They're currently 15-2-1 at the Kohl Center.  The Badgers are 8-5-1 in the Big Ten, and 17-9-2 overall.  They'll face a Michigan State team that's 3-5-6 in the conference, and 9-13-7 overall.  Meanwhile, the second-ranked Wisconsin women's hockey team plays its final regular season series at Minnesota State tonight and tomorrow afternoon.  The Badgers are 19-5-2 in the WCHA and 23-5-2 overall.  Minnesota State comes in with a 7-18-1 conference mark, and a 12-19-1 overall record.  The Badgers beat the Mavericks twice in their first season series last fall by a combined score of 8-1. 

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It's another three-game weekend for the Milwaukee Admirals.  They'll host Abbotsford tonight before hitting the road to play at Rockford tomorrow night, and at Grand Rapids on Sunday afternoon.  Abbotsford leads the American Hockey League's Western Conference with 69 points, with only two regulation losses in its last 14 games.  Milwaukee enters the weekend in fourth place in the Midwest Division, two points behind third-place Rockford.  Grand Rapids still leads the Midwest, but by only one point after winning just three-of-its-last-11 contests.  Milwaukee went 1-2 last weekend, splitting a pair against Chicago and losing to Iowa.

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The Milwaukee Wave will play at Saint Louis tonight.  Milwaukee has clinched a playoff berth with a 14-2 mark.  Marcio Leite and Luan Oliveira were both named to the Major Indoor Soccer League's team-of-the-week, after both scored hat tricks for the Wave in a rout of Pennsylvania last Sunday.  

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The state boys' high school swimming-and-diving meet begins this afternoon at UW-Madison Natatorium.  Division 2 will compete today, and Division 1 will have its turn tomorrow.  Madison Memorial will try to become the first Division 1 school to win four straight championships since Mequon Homestead did it about 15 years ago.  Monona Grove is the defending Division 2 champion, after McFarland had won the crown the previous six years.  Whitefish Bay junior Joe Kaszubowski is going for his third consecutive state diving title in Division 2.

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