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U.S. men’s hockey blows out Slovenia to clinch Group A, bye to quarterfinals

02.16.14 at 9:42 am ET
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Phil Kessel registered the first American hat trick in the Olympics since John LeClair in 2002 and the United States beat Slovenia, 5-1, to win Group A and clinch a bye into the quarterfinals. The U.S. will either be the three-seed (if Canada-Finland ends in regulation) or the two-seed (if Canada-Finland goes to overtime) for the quarterfinals.

It didn’€™t take long for the U.S. to get on the board. Just 1:04 into the game, Kessel took a pass from Joe Pavelski in the neutral zone, turned a defender inside-out and beat Luka Gracnar five-hole. Three and a half minutes later, Kessel struck again, this time batting a Pavelski centering pass out of the air and into the net.

The U.S. took its foot off the gas after that, though. Slovenia outshot the Americans 6-3 over the next 13 minutes and spent a lot of time in the U.S. zone. Fortunately for the U.S., Ryan Miller (who got the start while Jonathan Quick got a day off) was up to the challenge.

The sluggishness continued through the start of the second until a dominant shift from the fourth line of Blake Wheeler, Paul Stastny and shootout legend T.J. Oshie midway through the period finally swung momentum back in the USA’€™s favor.

Kessel’€™s line came on next — without the U.S. losing possession — and Kessel finished off his hat trick when he buried a rebound off a Pavelski shot that went through a James van Riemsdyk screen. The fourth line put together another great shift its next time out to make it 4-0. Wheeler circled through the offensive zone before making a nice pass to Ryan McDonagh in the right circle for the finish.

David Backes made it 5-0 early in the third when he redirected a Ryan Callahan centering pass. Marcel Rodman ended Miller’s shutout bid with 17.6 seconds left in the game.

Sweden will be either the one- or two-seed after winning Group C (it has nine points compared to the USA’€™s eight), while the winner of today’€™s Canada-Finland game will also earn a bye and be one of the top three seeds. The fourth bye will go to the top-ranked second-place team, which will likely be the loser of the Canada-Finland game.

T.J. Oshie scores 4 times in shootout to lift USA past Russia

02.15.14 at 10:23 am ET
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World, say hello to T.J. Oshie. The Blues forward scored four times in the shootout to lift the United States to a 3-2 win over Russia in the second game of Olympic group play. Oshie and Ilya Kovalchuk were the only two to score in the three rounds of the regulation shootout.

After that, teams are allowed to repeat shooters. The U.S. went with Oshie each round from there on, and he scored in three of the next five rounds as the Americans picked up their second straight win. They can clinch their group with a win over Slovenia on Sunday morning.

After successfully killing two Russia power plays early in the third, the U.S. took a 2-1 lead on a power play of its own with 10:33 to go. Patrick Kane held the puck along the right halfwall before threading a beautiful cross-ice pass to Joe Pavelski for the one-time finish.

The U.S. gave Russia another power play with 7:34 to go, though, and this time Russia made the Americans pay. Pavel Datsyuk held the puck at the top of the right circle before firing through an Alexander Radulov screen to tie the game at 2-2.

With less than five minutes to go, Russia came close to taking the lead twice in a 15-second span. Kovalchuk hit the post, then Fedor Tyutin appeared to score on a shot from the point. The play was reviewed and ruled no-goal, though, because the left post was off its mooring.

Kane had a golden chance to end it in overtime when Pavelski sprung him on a breakaway, but Sergei Bobrovsky (32 saves) denied his five-hole bid.

After a scoreless, mostly even first period, Russia opened the scoring 9:15 into the second. Andrei Markov made a nice pass through the neutral zone to Datsyuk, who blew by Brooks Orpik and beat Jonathan Quick (29 saves) glove-side.

The U.S. answered seven minutes later with a power-play goal following a selfish penalty by Radulov 100 feet away from the puck. James van Riemsdyk finished off a dominant shift by collecting a rebound off a Phil Kessel shot and sliding it over to Cam Fowler for the goal.

A U.S. penalty kill early in the second served as the perfect example of just how much this tournament means to the players. Ryan McDonagh and Ryan Kesler blocked a pair of slap shots from Alex Ovechkin and Kovalchuk, respectively, and both were slow to get up. Kesler went down the tunnel for a couple minutes, but returned to the game.

Because the game went to overtime, the U.S. gets two points for the win rather than the three you get for a regulation win in the Olympics. That could be important when it comes to seeding.

Jonathan Martin wants to continue NFL career

02.14.14 at 1:49 pm ET
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Jonathan Martin still wants to play in the NFL.

Less than an hour after the independent investigator hired by the NFL to examine what happened in the Dolphins locker room this past season released his report, Martin’s agent, Kenny Zuckerman, said Martin “can’t wait to play again,” according to Ian Rapoport of the NFL Network.

 

Friday’s report details the treatment Martin received from three veteran offensive linemen, who bullied a younger player and an assistant trainer as well.

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NFL investigator releases report, criticizes Richie Incognito, other Dolphins linemen for harassment of Jonathan Martin

02.14.14 at 11:01 am ET
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Richie Incognito

Richie Incognito

The independent investigator hired by the NFL to examine the situation in the Dolphins locker room that apparently led to the October departure of offensive lineman Jonathan Martin released his report Friday, and he criticizes a trio of veteran offensive linemen for their treatment of Martin, a fellow young player and an assistant trainer.

“The Report concludes that three starters on the Dolphins offensive line, Richie Incognito, John Jerry and Mike Pouncey, engaged in a pattern of harassment directed at not only Jonathan Martin, but also another young Dolphins offensive lineman and an assistant trainer,” Wells wrote in a statement.

“The Report finds that the assistant trainer repeatedly was the object of racial slurs and other racially derogatory language; that the other offensive lineman was subjected to homophobic name-calling and improper physical touching; and that Martin was taunted on a persistent basis with sexually explicit remarks about his sister and his mother and at times ridiculed with racial insults and other offensive comments.

“The Report rejects any suggestion that Martin manufactured claims of abuse after the fact to cover up an impetuous decision to leave the team. Contemporaneous text messages that Martin sent to his parents and others months before he left the Dolphins — €”which have never before been made public — €”corroborate his account that the persistent harassment by his teammates caused him significant emotional distress.

“The Report concludes that the harassment by Martin’s teammates was a contributing factor in his decision to leave the team, but also finds that Martin’s teammates did not intend to drive Martin from the team or cause him lasting emotional injury.”

Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, who recently said he does not expect either player to return to the team next season, said in a statement that he’s committed to providing a safe working environment.

“We have just received the report from Ted Wells and will review it in detail before responding relative to the findings,” Ross said. “When we asked the NFL to conduct this independent review, we felt it was important to take a step back and thoroughly research these serious allegations. As an organization, we are committed to a culture of team-first accountability and respect for one another.”

Incognito was suspended Nov. 3 through the end of the NFL season and now is an unrestricted free agent. He blasted Martin and his camp on Twitter on Wednesday, claiming that Martin was not telling the truth about the alleged bullying and its affect on him.

Wells noted in his report that “Martin developed an odd but seemingly close relationship with Incognito. Not only did both linemen report that they enjoyed socializing together, the evidence also shows that they often communicated in a vulgar manner. Incognito contends that the conduct about which Martin complains was part of locker room banter meant in good fun and that Martin was a willing and active participant in verbal sparring, never letting on that he was hurt by it. Martin claims that at times he participated in off-color joking with Incognito and others in an attempt to fit in, with the hope of reducing the treatment he found offensive. According to our consulting expert, a psychologist who focuses on matters of workplace conduct, such a reaction is consistent with the behavior of a victim of abusive treatment.”

Read More: Jonathan Martin, Richie Incognito, Stephen Ross, Ted Wells

Former manager, 6-time All-Star Jim Fregosi dead at 71

02.14.14 at 10:41 am ET
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Jim Fregosi, who spent just over five decades in the baseball industry, died Friday morning after suffering a stroke last weekend, his son announced.

Fregosi, who was 71, was on an MLB alumni cruise from Grand Cayman to Cozumel, Mexico, when he suffered multiple strokes. He was airlifted to a hospital Wednesday and taken off life support Thursday afternoon.

During his time in the baseball industry, Fregosi worked in almost every role from player to executive. His career began in 1960 when the Red Sox drafted him. The Angels then took him 35th overall in the 1960 expansion draft. Over the course of his 18-year playing career at shortstop with the Angels, Mets, Rangers and Pirates, Fregosi hit .265 with 151 home runs and 706 RBIs.

He made six All-Star teams and was selected by fans as the No. 1 player in Angels history during the team’€™s 100th anniversary celebration. The Angels retired his number in 1988.

The day after Fregosi ended his career with the Pirates in June of 1978, he became the manager of the Angels. While with the team in a managerial role, he led the Angels to their first postseason appearance in franchise history. Fregosi also led the Phillies to a National League pennant in 1993 before the team lost in the sixth game of the World Series against Toronto.

Over the past 13 seasons, Fregosi spent time as a special assistant to the Braves. He previously held the same position with the Giants and managed in Triple-A for the Cardinals.

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Friday’s Morning Mashup: Michael Sam’s father claims he was ‘terribly misquoted,’ offers support for son

02.14.14 at 7:58 am ET
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Welcome to Friday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

FRIDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Rising Stars Challenge, 9 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Detroit at Oakland, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Arizona at Arizona State, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Canisius at Niagara, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College hockey: Boston College at Vermont, 7 p.m. (WEEI-AM)
College hockey: Boston University at New Hampshire, 7 p.m. (NBCSN)
College hockey: Miami (Ohio) at North Dakota, 8:30 p.m. (CBSSN)
College football: All-Star Bowl, 6 p.m. (CBSSN)
Olympics: Men’s hockey, Sweden vs. Switzerland, 7:30 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s figure skating, 10 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s hockey, Norway vs. Finland, noon (MSNBC)
Olympics: Men’s hockey, Canada vs. Austria, noon (USA)
Olympics: Men’s ski jumping, 2:15 p.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s biathlon, women’s freestyle skiing, 3 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s curling, United States vs. Russia, 5 p.m. (CNBC)
Olympics: Men’s figure skating, men’s Alpine, women’s freestyle skiing, women’s skeleton, 8 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s ski jumping, men’s skeleton, 12:05 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s hockey, Slovakia vs. Slovenia, 3 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s hockey quarterfinal, Finland vs. Sweden, 3 a.m. (MSNBC)

AROUND THE WEB:

Michael Sam's father claims he was misquoted by The New York Times and that he fully supports his son. (AP)

Michael Sam’s father claims he was misquoted by The New York Times and that he fully supports his son. (AP)

Michael Sam‘s father was in the news earlier this week when The New York Times ran a story that quoted Michael Sam Sr. as saying he was having trouble accepting the fact that his son is gay. Sam Sr. told the Times he was “old school,” “a man-and-a-woman type of guy.” Added the father: “I don’t want my grandkids raised in that kind of environment.”

On Thursday, Sam Sr. told the Galveston (Texas) Daily News that he was “terribly misquoted.”

“I did not say anything about my grandkids,” Sam Sr. said.

Addressing a comment he made that legendary Rams defensive lineman Deacon Jones would be rolling over in his grave, Sam Sr. said his quote was taken out of context.

“I told them Deacon Jones is going to roll over in his grave because here comes my son and that he’s going to be a star in the NFL,” Sam Sr. said.

The Times stood by its story, with sports editor Jason Stallman e-mailing the Galveston paper: “We generally are not inclined to discuss the details of our reporting, but I can assure you that we quoted Mr. Sam accurately and fairly. I’ve gone over it with our reporters, and everything was rock solid, beyond any doubt.”

Although Sam Jr. has said he has a complicated relationship with his family and he usually stays with friends when he visits his hometown of Galveston, Sam Sr. said he only has support for his son.

“My son did the right thing, and I am not against him at all,” Sam Sr. said. “He has made a great statement in coming out, and that he should be able to play in the NFL. I love him unconditionally.”

Added the father: “Once he gets on the field and hits [someone] once, they won’t think he’s gay.”

– Jets safety Ed Reed has had a rough few months. After being cast off by the Ravens and signing a three-year, $15 million deal with the Texans last offseason, Reed and the Texans struggled badly. The veteran lost playing time and openly criticized the coaching staff as the losses piled up. That led to him being unceremoniously cut by the team. He proceeded to sign with the Jets, and the losses continued until a brief season-ending surge.

Now comes a report that Reed was robbed of $50,000 in cash while in Houston on Wednesday.

According to the Houston Chronicle, Reed had a stack of $100 bills in a bag in the front seat of his car as he left one bank and entered another down the street. When he returned from the second bank, he discovered that someone had smashed a window on his 2006 Audi and taken the money.

There was no immediate explanation as to why Reed had $50,000 in cash — or even why he was back in Houston.

– A month after a member of the Raiders cheerleading squad sued the team for failing to provide proper compensation to current and former cheerleaders, a Bengals cheerleader filed her own class action complaint.

Alexa Brenneman, who was a member of the Ben-Gals for the past year, said she worked more than 300 hours for the organization between mandatory practices, public appearances, pregame responsibilities and calendar posing/promotions. Yet her pay works out to less than $2.85 per hour, far less than Ohio’s minimum wage rate of $7.85.

She accuses the Bengals of being in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act and Ohio Minimum Fair Wage Standards Act.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Feb. 14, 2003, which Bruin set a record for the fastest two goals by one player from the start of a game when he scored 10 seconds in and again at the 27-second mark in a 6-5 road victory over the Panthers?

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Read More: Ed Reed, Michael Sam,

U.S. men’s hockey team kicks off Olympics with blowout win over Slovakia

02.13.14 at 10:51 am ET
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In its opening game of the 2014 Winter Olympics, the U.S. men’€™s hockey team used a second-period surge to defeat Slovakia 7-1 at Shayba Arena in Sochi.

Team USA came out of the first with a 1-0 lead after defenseman John Carlson‘€™s slap shot from the right circle eluded Slovakian netminder Jaroslav Halak with just over five minutes left in the frame.

A mere 24 seconds into the second, Slovakia evened out the score with a wrister from forward Tomas Tatar.

That stalemate did not last for long though, as Team USA scored two goals in 1:10. First, Ryan Kesler one-timed a pass from linemate Patrick Kane to regain the lead at 1:26. Then at 2:32, Paul Stastny scored his first goal of the game when he stuffed a rebound past Halak.

Toward the middle of the frame, David Backes added some insurance when he put a bouncing puck into the back of the net for a 4-1 lead.

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Thursday’s Morning Mashup: Russian billionaire, U.S. skier work to save condemned stray dogs in Sochi

02.13.14 at 8:09 am ET
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Welcome to Thursday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

THURSDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NBA: Nets at Bulls, 8 p.m. (TNT)
NBA: Thunder at Lakers, 10:30 p.m. (TNT)
College basketball: Boston College at Georgia Tech, 5 p.m. (NESN; WEEI-AM)
College basketball: Northwestern at Michigan State, 7 p.m. (BTN)
College basketball: Louisville at Temple, 7 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Creighton at Butler, 7 p.m. (CBSSN)
College basketball: SMU at Rutgers, 7 p.m. (ESPNews)
College basketball: UNC-Asheville at Radford, 7 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: Arkansas at Missouri, 7 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: Minnesota at Wisconsin, 9 p.m. (ESPN)
College basketball: Tennessee State at Belmont, 9 p.m. (ESPNU)
College basketball: St. John’s at Seton Hall, 9 p.m. (FS1)
College basketball: Colorado at UCLA, 9 p.m. (ESPN2)
College basketball: San Diego at Saint Mary’s, 11 p.m. (ESPNU)
Olympics: Men’s hockey, Slovakia vs. United States, 7:30 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s hockey: Russia vs. Slovenia, 7:30 a.m. (MSNBC)
Olympics: Men’s figure skating, 10 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Men’s curling, Canada vs. Denmark, 10 a.m. (MSNBC)
Olympics: Men’s figure skating, 11:45 a.m. (NBCSN)
Olympics: Women’s hockey, Sweden vs. Russia, noon (MSNBC)
Olympics: Men’s hockey, Canada vs. Norway, noon (USA)
Olympics: Men’s biathlon, luge, 3 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s curling, United States vs. Japan, 5 p.m. (CNBC)
Olympics: Men’s figure skating, men’s freestyle skiing, women’s speedskating, women’s skeleton, 8 p.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Women’s short-track speedskating, men’s short-track speedskating, 12:05 a.m. (NBC)
Olympics: Men’s curling, United States vs. Germany, 3 a.m. (NBCSN)

AROUND THE WEB:

– A Russian billionaire has stepped up to help save the stray dogs in Sochi, previously condemned to death by the city in an effort to put on a good front for the Olympics.

Oleg Deripaska, who runs an aluminum company and is said to be one of Russia’s richest individuals, reportedly paid for dog shelters to be built in Baranovka, north of Sochi.

“My first dog I found in the street of my village, the tiny village [where I grew up],” he told the BBC. “It was a very close friend for five years.”

Meanwhile, U.S. freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy tweeted a photo of himself with some stray puppies. Kenworthy wrote that he’s lined up kennels for the dogs and made vaccination appointments as he tries to bring them back to his home in Colorado.

 

– The Lakers’ on-court struggles are costing the team at the box office. The Lakers drew a season-low 18,209 fans for Tuesday’s loss to the lowly Jazz, the second time this season they did not sell out a game. A non-sellout on Nov. 12 against the Pelicans ended a streak of 270 consecutive regular-season sellouts.

The Lakers still rank eighth in NBA home attendance, but their 18-34 record clearly is turning off the faithful. Local ratings on Time Warner Cable SportsNet are down 37.5 percent over the first 40 games this year compared to last.

Meanwhile, the Clippers, with whom the Lakers share the Staples Center, have sold out every game this season, averaging 19,196 fans.

The Bulls lead the league in attendance at 21,639 fans per game.

– With the NFL scouting combine approaching — and plenty of attention expected to be paid to Missour’s Michael Sam after his announcement that he’s gay — Real Clear Sports has a list of the top 10 controversial prospects at the annual event.

No. 1 is wide receiver Dez Bryant (2010), who was suspended for most of his final season at Oklahoma State. No. 2 is Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o last year, due to the girlfriend hoax that was exposed a few weeks earlier. No. 3 is running back Maurice Clarett, who sued his way into the 2005 draft after being suspended from Ohio State. No. 4 is Randy Moss (1998), who skipped the combine and worked out at Marshall’s pro day instead. No. 5 is Florida quarterback Tim Tebow (2010), who showed off his athleticism but did not throw at the combine.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Feb. 13, 1985, the Bruins fired coach Gerry Cheevers. Who replaced him for the remainder of the season?

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Richie Incognito rips Jonathan Martin on Twitter, says Martin considered suicide

02.12.14 at 4:03 pm ET
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Richie Incognito hadn’t said a whole lot while the NFL was investigating what happened between him and former Dolphins teammate Jonathan Martin. The findings of that investigation haven’t been made public yet, but Incognito took to Twitter to break his silence on Wednesday.

 

Zuckerman is Martin’s agent.

 

 

 

That last tweet is sure to create the biggest stir. Regardless of what happened between the two, or whether Martin’s bullying allegations were fair, tweeting about someone being suicidal probably crosses the line, especially since Martin has never talked about it himself.

You may remember that back in November, Deadspin had the story about a poster on a Dolphins message board who made numerous posts saying Martin had considered killing himself. With the help of another poster from that message board, Deadspin showed that it was almost certainly Incognito’s father making those posts about Martin.

Olympics: Team USA women’s hockey loses showdown with Canada

02.12.14 at 10:08 am ET
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Meghan Agosta-Marciano scored two of Canada’s three third-period goals in a 3-2 victory over Team USA on Wednesday in an Olympic preliminary-round game in Sochi.

Hilary Knight had given the United States (2-1) a 1-0 lead when she redirected an Alex Carpenter slap shot into the net with 2:26 remaining in the second period.

Agosta-Marciano tied the score 2:21 into the third period with a power-play goal. Just 1:33 later, American goalie Jessie Vetter (28 saves) mishandled the puck to the side of the goal as she tried to tuck it away and it trickled into the net. Hayley Wickenhiser was given credit for the goal.

The Canadians (3-0) went up 3-1 with 5:05 remaining when Agosta-Marciano scooped up a loose puck and skated in alone, scoring with a quick wrist shot. Canada outshot the United States 12-3 in the final period (and 31-27 for the game).

Team USA closed the gap on a goal with 1:05 left as Anne Schleper found the back of the net on a shot from the point.

The Americans, already playing with their goalie pulled, played 6-on-4 for the final 31 seconds after Canada was called for too many players on the ice (after getting away with similar infractions twice earlier in the game). However, Canadian goalie Charline Labonte (25 saves) would not be beaten again.