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MINNESOTA SPORTS ROUND-UP: Wild to begin four-game homestand

ST. PAUL  --  The Minnesota Wild resume their four-game homestand tonight against the Edmonton Oilers at Xcel Energy Center in downtown St. Paul. 

Minnesota opened the homestand with a 3-2 shootout loss to St. Louis on Sunday, picking up a crucial one point in the standings.  The Wild have now lost two in-a-row to dip to 34-22-8, but remain on solid footing in the NHL Western Conference standings.  The Oilers are 22-35-8.  Tonight's game faces off at 7 p.m.


NCAA champions in both men's and women's sports were honored by President Obama at a White House event yesterday in Washington, D.C.  The University of Minnesota women's hockey team has won the last two national titles and was one of the teams taking part in the awards ceremony.  Obama made special mention of the Golden Gopher team because several members of the squad played for Team USA in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia last month, winning the Silver Medal.  The president also thanked the athletes for their tireless work ethic that turned them into champions as well as for taking time out to be role models in the community.


The opening round of the first-ever NCHC postseason tournament is set.  The inaugural NCHC regular season champion St. Cloud State is the No. 1 seed in the field, and will host eight-seed Miami of Ohio for a best-of-three series this weekend  Minnesota-Duluth is the four-seed and will entertain Western Michigan this weekend in a best-of-three series.  The first round winners will meet in the Frozen Faceoff at the Target Center on March 21-22.  Here is the entire first round of the NCHC Tournament:

Miami of Ohio at St. Cloud State (Friday, Saturday, Sunday - if necessary)

Western Michigan at Minnesota-Duluth (Friday, Saturday, Sunday - if necessary)

Denver at Nebraska-Omaha (Thursday, Friday, Saturday - if necessary)

Colorado College at North Dakota (Friday, Saturday, Sunday - if necessary)


The opening round of the WCHA men's hockey postseason tournament is scheduled for this weekend at campus sites across the league.  Minnesota State-Mankato is the conference tourney's No. 2 seed and will host a best-of-three series against Northern Michigan.  Bemidji State is the eight-seed and will play a road series against top-seed Ferris State.  Here is the entire first round of the men's WCHA Tournament:

Northern Michigan at Minnesota State-Mankato (Friday, Saturday, Sunday - if necessary)

Bemidji State at No. Ferris State (Friday, Saturday, Sunday - if necessary)

Michigan Tech at Bowling Green (Friday, Saturday, Sunday - if necessary)

Alaska-Anchorage at Alaska-Fairbanks (Thursday, Friday, Saturday- if necessary)


The University of Minnesota women's hockey team begins its quest for a third consecutive national championship this weekend, when the opening round of the NCAA Tournament opens.  The Golden Gophers host Boston University for a national quarterfinal game on Saturday afternoon at Ridder Arena on the University of Minnesota campus.  The winner of the game advances to the NCAA Women's Hockey Frozen four in Hamden, Connecticut scheduled for March 21-23.  The Golden Gophers are 36-1-1 on the season and have won the regular season and postseason WCHA championships.  Boston is 23-12-1 on the year.  Here is the first round NCAA Tournament schedule for women's hockey:

Boston University at Minnesota, Saturday, 4 p.m.

Boston College at Clarkson, Saturday, 3 p.m.

Harvard at Wisconsin, Saturday, 7 p.m.

Mercyhurst at Cornell, Saturday, 2 p.m.


St. Thomas is the lone Minnesota school represented in this year's NCAA Division III Men's and Women's Hockey Tournament.  On the men's side, the Tommies are 21-4-2 on the season and will host UW-Stevens Points on Saturday in a national quarterfinal game at 7 p.m.  The Pointers are 20-5-2 on the year.  The St. Thomas women are 19-5-3 on the year and will play Friday night at UW-Stevens Point at 7 p.m.  The Pointer women are 19-5-4 on the season.


The Minnesota Timberwolves wrap up their four-game homestand tonight against the Milwaukee Bucks at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis.  Minnesota is 1-2 so far in the homestand, following Sunday's 111-104 setback to Toronto.  The T'wolves sit at 31-31 on the season.  The Bucks come in with the worst record in the NBA at 13-and-50 despite winning last night at home over Orlando.  Tonight's tip time is set for 7 p.m.


The University of Minnesota men's basketball team is preparing for their meeting with Penn State in the first round of the Big Ten Tournament on Thursday in Indianapolis  The Gophers grabbed the seven-seed after going 19-12 and 8-10 in conference play.  The Nittany Lions are the 10th-seed after finishing 15-16 and 6-12.  The tipoff is set for 5:30 p.m.

Here is the schedule of games for the 2014 Big Ten Men's Basketball Tournament in Indianapolis:

First Round (Thursday):  Indiana vs. Illinois, 11 a.m.

First Round (Thursday):  Ohio State vs. Purdue, 1:30 p.m.

First Round (Thursday):  Minnesota vs. Penn State, 5:30 p.m.

First Round (Thursday):  Iowa vs. Northwestern, 8 p.m.

Quarterfinals (Friday):  Indiana/Illinois winner vs. Michigan, 11a.m.

Quarterfinals (Friday):  Ohio State/Purdue winner vs. Nebraska, 1:30 p.m.

Quarterfinals (Friday):  Minnesota/Penn State winner vs. Wisconsin, 5:30 p.m.

Quarterfinals (Friday):  Iowa/Northwestern winner vs. Michigan State, 8 p.m.

Semifinal #1 (Saturday):  Quarterfinal #1 winner vs. Quarterfinal #2 winner, 12:40 p.m.

Semifinal #2 (Saturday):  Quarterfinal #3 winner vs. Quarterfinal #4 winner, 3 p.m.

Championship (Sunday):  Semifinal #1 winner vs. Semifinal #2 winner, 2:30p.m.


Two Golden Gopher men's basketball players were honored as Honorable Mention all-Big Ten picks when the honor squads were announced yesterday.  Junior guards Andre Hollins of Memphis and DeAndre Mathieu of Knoxville, Tennessee each were given honorable mention status.  Michigan's Nik Stauskas headlined the first-team all-Big Ten unit and was named the league's Player of the Year.  The rest of the first-team included Wisconsin's Frank Kaminsky, Nebraska's Terran Petteway, Iowa's Roy Devyn Marble, and Michigan State's Gary Harris.  Former Southwest Minnesota State coach Tim Miles, now the head coach at Nebraska, was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in a vote of his league coaching peers.


University of Nebraska outfielder Ryan Boldt of Red Wing has been named the Big Ten Freshman of the Week for his work this week with the Cornhuskers.  He collected six hits, scored six runs, hit .600 in a three-game sweep of St. John's.  This is the first time he has won the honor in his young career.


After their first and only scheduled off day of spring training, the Minnesota Twins are back in action today as they take on the Tampa Bay Rays in Port Charlotte.  Minnesota is 5-4-1 following Sunday's 1-1 tie with Philadelphia.  Ricky Nolasco will get the start today against the Rays.  Matt Guerrier is expected to make his spring debut for Minnesota in a relief role.  First pitch is set for noon.


The Minnesota Vikings have re-signed linebacker Larry Dean.  The 25-year-old recorded a career-high 18 special teams tackles last season  He has spent most of his time on special teams since signing as an undrafted free agent in 2011, posting 48 tackles and 48 games.


Some NFL players will be signing on the dotted line today as the free agency period opens.  Teams were able to negotiate with impending free agents starting on Saturday morning.  Players can begin to officially sign contracts at 3 p.m. this afternoon. 


NASCAR heads to the short track at Bristol Motor Speedway this Sunday for the Food City 500.  Brad Keselowski claimed the checkered flag this past Sunday at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, joining Dale Earnhardt Jr and Kevin Harvick as winners this year.  Sunday's race starts at noon.