National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Tanaka pitches 1st batting practice for Yankees

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Masahiro Tanaka impressed Austin Romine when the Japanese star threw batting practice for the first time with the New York Yankees.

The right-hander threw 25 pitches Friday morning at Steinbrenner Field, facing five batters for five pitches each. Romine, tracking the ball in the batter's box without swinging, watched five pitches go by and marveled. At one point, Romine turned around and asked catcher Brian McCann what pitch Tanaka had thrown. Turns out it was his famous splitter.

"I've never seen the ball move like that before," Romine said.

Tanaka had thrown three bullpen sessions since arriving the United States after agreeing to a $155 million, seven-year contract.

Manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman watched from behind the batting cage.

Minor-leaguer Adonis Garcia hit a slow grounder up the middle, but two pitches later swung and missed a darting, downward pitch.

"As good as advertised," McCann said. "I know it's only a live bullpen, but you can tell he's got the stuff. He's got a great split. It really falls off the table. His motion is completely the same as his fastball, and that's the key to getting swings and misses."

Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last year and led the Rakuten Golden Eagles to their first Japan Series title.

"I'm think I'm getting into the rhythm of this whole thing," Tanaka said through an interpreter. "I feel pretty good about what I did today."

Tanaka hadn't faced a hitter since getting the final out for a save in Game 7 of the Japan Series. He smiled and made a decisive downward movement with his arm when asked if his last pitch in that game was a great one.

Girardi said he might separate Tanaka and Japanese veteran Hiroki Kuroda in New York's rotation because of their pitching styles.

"There is similarities, and it's probably what is taught there," Girardi said. "You always think about what's the best way to line up your rotation so there's a different look every day, so obviously that's something to consider."

Kuroda, CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova also threw batting practice.

Sabathia, coming off a 14-13 record in his poorest big league season, threw 25 pitches. The left-hander reported at 275 pounds, 40 below his high in 2010.

"I feel strong," he said. "I don't feel any fatigue, anything like that. I didn't throw a lot of strikes today, but I can live that with throwing at 100 percent. I threw all offseason. I'm ahead of where I was last spring. Maybe even the spring before just from all the work I've been doing. I'm encouraged by the way I feel."

Sabathia's fastball velocity dropped from 93.9 mph in 2011 to 92.4 in 2012 to 91.3 last year, according to fangraphs.com. Following elbow surgery in October 2012, his fastball average barely topped 90 in the first two months of last season.

"I'll stay within myself," Sabathia said. "Not try to overthrow. At times last year I got caught up in that. Wanted to overthrow, and that's when things started changing. Arm angle and different things like that. If I'm healthy, I'll just stay within myself and use what I have."

"After having a bad year last year and not helping the team, we want to get back to the playoffs, and I think it starts with me," Sabathia said.

NOTES: Nova threw 35 pitches and Kuroda 25. ... 1B Mark Teixeira, returning from right wrist surgery last July, said he's about a week away from taking batting practice against a pitcher and hopes to play in spring training games starting sometime in the first week of March. ... OF Alfonso Soriano missed his second straight workout because of flu but worked in the weight room, according to Girardi. ... Pitching coach Larry Rothschild normally ends BP with a pitcher throwing two pitchouts. He had a different twist for Nova, having him throw two intentional walk pitches.

SOCHI: Ahn wins two golds in short-track skating

SOCHI, Russia -- Viktor Ahn clapped as he crossed the finish line after leading Russia to Olympic gold in the 5,000-meter relay. His adopted country applauded right back, loudly cheering the short track skater the Russians have embraced as a new national hero.

"This will be the best Olympics in my life," he said in Korean. "I will never forget it."

Fittingly, Ahn capped his four-medal performance at the Sochi Games with gold in the relay, a medal he wanted the most as a way to unify the team he joined after forsaking his native South Korea.

"I'm so happy to be able to smile in the end with my teammates," he said.

Ahn won two golds on Friday's final night of short track to tie retired star Apolo Anton Ohno for the most career Olympic medals in the rough and tumble sport with eight. Ahn won four golds at the 2006 Turin Games, and added a bronze and three golds in Sochi.

Ahn clinched the relay by taking the lead for good after passing American J.R. Celski with eight laps to go. Earlier in the evening, he won the 500, the only event Ahn had never won in two Olympics.

"He just shows he is the best guy in the world, definitely here," Ohno said. "He's got eight medals, six gold. Perhaps the best ever to put short track speed skates on. Yeah, I would say so."

The 28-year-old Seoul-born skater switched nationalities in 2011 after competing for South Korea as Ahn Hyun-soo in Turin. A career-threatening knee injury in 2008 and multiple surgeries forced him to miss the Vancouver Games. Turmoil with his skating club in South Korea and his long recovery time led Ahn to find a new home in Russia.

"I made a decision and I have no regret," Ahn said. "I would like to thank Russia."

The decibel level inside Iceberg Skating Palace was higher for Ahn than it had been a night earlier when Adelina Sotnikova became the country's first gold medalist in women's figure skating in the same building.

"So many people supported me," Ahn said.

The mostly Russian crowd chanted the first name of their adopted red-headed star as he mounted the top spot on the medal podium twice in a row at the end of the night.

The relay got off to a chaotic start with China and the Netherlands crashing not even halfway through the opening lap. It became a two-nation race between Russia and the U.S. for most of the 45 laps.

Chris Creveling briefly put the U.S. in front with 15 laps left, overtaking Vladimir Grigorev. But Ahn rallied his teammates Grigorev, Semen Elistratov and Ruslan Zakharov to victory.

Eddy Alvarez, Celski, Creveling and Jordan Malone took silver for the first U.S. medal in speedskating at the Sochi Games. The U.S. speedskaters were shut out in 12 long track events, and had failed to get on the podium in the first seven short track races.

The medal helped the Americans avoid a shutout for the first time since 1998 in Nagano.

"It's an honor to bring back a silver to the United States," Alvarez said.

The Chinese team of Chen Dequan, Han Tianyu, Shi Jingnan and Wu Dajing overcame the early trouble to take bronze.

Earlier, Ahn rallied to win the 500, overtaking Wu on the last lap after Liang Wenhao of China crashed out. It was the only Olympic race Ahn had never captured, and he became the first skater to win all four individual events at an Olympics in his career.

"It was Ahn's clinic on how to short track speedskate tonight. He wrote a textbook," Ohno said of Ahn's 500 race.

Ohno, now retired and working as a TV commentator at the games, had been confident that Ahn would tie his record set from 2002-2010.

Ahn earned bronze in the 1,500, giving Russia its first medal in the sport on the opening day of competition in Sochi. He then won the 1,000.

Wu earned silver and Charle Cournoyer of Canada took bronze in the men's sprint.

In the women's 1,000, Park Seung-hi of South Korea won her third medal of the games.

Park took over the lead for good from American Jessica Smith early in the race. Park earned her other gold medal in the women's 3,000 relay, and took bronze in the 500.

Fan Kexin of China earned silver, and Shim Suk-hee of South Korea earned bronze. Shim also won her third medal, having taken silver in the 1,500 and joining Park on the victorious relay.

Smith, of Melvindale, Mich., finished last.

Jorien ter Mors of the Netherlands finished third in her 1,000-meter semifinal heat, ending her bid to become the first speed skater to win medals in both short and long track. She had already won gold in the 1,500 on the big oval.

SOCHI: US teen Shiffrin makes history with slalom gold

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Normally so composed, so in control, so not-very-teenlike on and off the slopes, Mikaela Shiffrin suddenly found herself in an awkward position halfway through the second leg of the Olympic slalom.

Guilty, perhaps, of charging too hard as she swayed this way and that around the course's gates, Shiffrin briefly lost her balance. Her left ski rose too far off the snow. Her chance at a gold medal in the event she's dominated for two years was about to slip away.

"Yeah, that was pretty terrifying for me. There I was, I'm like, `Grrreat. I'm just going to go win my first medal.' And then, in the middle of the run, I'm like, `Guess not," the American said with a laugh Friday night. "So like, `No. Don't do that. Do not give up. You see this through.' My whole goal was to just keep my skis moving."

Somehow, she did just that. Shiffrin stayed upright, gathered herself and, although giving away precious time there, was able to make a big lead from the first leg stand up. She won by more than a half-second to become, at 18, the youngest slalom champion in Olympic history.

"It's going to be something that I chalk up as one of my favorite experiences for the rest of my life," Shiffrin said. "But my life's not over yet."

No, Mikaela, it's not. It's only just beginning. Think about this for a moment: How might a typical American teenager have spent her Friday night? At the mall with friends? At a movie? At a high school dance?

Shiffrin spent hers outracing the best skiers in the world down a floodlit Rosa Khutor course, knocking aside gates with her neon yellow pole handles. She was fastest in the first run, then sixth-fastest in the second, for a combined time of 1 minute, 44.54 seconds.

A pair of Austrians won silver and bronze: Marlies Schild was 0.53 behind Shiffrin, and Kathrin Zettel was 0.81 back. At 32, Schild is the oldest Olympic slalom medalist ever -- old enough to have been someone Shiffrin looked up to as, well, even more of a kid than she is now.

"I won my age class," Schild joked.

She holds the record with 35 career World Cup slalom wins and now owns three Olympic medals in the discipline, two silvers and a bronze.

"You know what's surreal? That Marlies and Mikaela are on a podium together," said Shiffrin's father, Jeff. "Marlies, she's battled, she's had injuries, but she's been the queen of slalom. Mikaela has said, `I've channeled Marlies."

Shiffrin has won nine of the last 19 World Cup or world championship slaloms; no one else has won more than two in that span. Last year, her slalom world title made her the youngest champion in any event since 1985.

Talk about precocious. And serious-minded, too. Since she was about 13, Shiffrin has jotted down thoughts in notebooks, about skiing, yes, but also about what sorts of questions might arise from reporters.

"I first met her when she was 16, and I realized right away that she is one of a kind," said Roland Pfeifer, the U.S. women's technical coach. "She wants to know everything about skiing. The way she trains, the volume she trains, she probably is 25 already."

Shiffrin got a cold while in Russia, so she spent Friday morning drinking orange juice and trying to relax.

After her terrific opening run, she listened to music and did word searches.

Like a kid killing time between classes.

In her Olympic debut, Tuesday's giant slalom, Shiffrin finished fifth. But the slalom is her specialty.

"I did envision this moment so many times," said Shiffrin, who wore a stars-and-stripes "USA" temporary tattoo on her neck. "On the chairlift ride to the start in the second run, I started crying a little bit. I started tearing up, because I was like, `This actually might happen, and I don't know what to think if it does."

Older, more accomplished racers faltered.

Three-time Olympic gold medalist Maria Hoefl-Riesch of Germany was in second after the afternoon's opening run but faded to fourth in what she said would be her last Winter Games race.

Tina Maze of Slovenia, who won Sochi golds in the downhill and giant slalom, went from third in the opening leg to eighth.

"She's young. She's free. She doesn't think too much," Maze said about Shiffrin. "She's just doing it easy. For that age, I'm really impressed."

Shiffrin's gold gave the United States five Alpine medals, second to Austria's seven. With one event remaining, the men's slalom Saturday, it's the second-highest total for the U.S., after eight in 2010. That American team, though, had Lindsey Vonn, now sidelined by knee surgery.

For quite some time, Shiffrin has been likened to Vonn, the four-time World Cup champion and two-time Olympic medalist.

Both are based in Colorado. Both are charismatic. Both were successful early and marked for greatness.

"People have said that I'm `the next Lindsey Vonn' several times, and it's the same thing with being `the young Tina Maze' or whoever. It's amazing to be compared to them, and I'm really honored to have that comparison. But I don't want to be `the young Tina Maze' or `the next Lindsey Vonn," she said. "I want to be Mikaela Shiffrin."

Which is a pretty good thing to be right now.

SOCHI: Canada dispatches USA in hockey, will face Sweden

SOCHI, Russia -- For the rematch, Canada skipped the overtime and shelved the theatrics.

One slick goal and 60 minutes of stifling defensive hockey kept the Canadians firmly on top of the U.S. and moved them to the brink of gold again.

Jamie Benn scored in the second period, Carey Price made 31 saves, and Canada beat the United States 1-0 Friday night in the semifinals of the Olympic men's hockey tournament.

Canada advanced to the gold-medal match Sunday against Sweden, which beat Finland 2-1 in the earlier semifinal at Bolshoy Ice Dome.

With an unbeaten run through Sochi, the Canadians are a win away from their third gold medal in four Olympics, and they're guaranteed their first medals outside North America in 20 years.

Although it was fast-paced and well-played, this win had none of the flair of Sidney Crosby's overtime goal to beat the U.S. four years ago. The Canadians didn't care.

"We didn't score a lot of goals, but we didn't have to," Canada forward Jonathan Toews said. "The next game will follow that work ethic. We can check, we can work our tails off, and we can make things real tough for the other team."

After its first loss in Sochi, the U.S. will face Finland for bronze on Saturday. The Americans were hoping for redemption from their gut-wrenching defeat in 2010, but they only got a businesslike reminder of Canada's clout.

"We didn't show up to play," U.S. defenseman Ryan Suter said. "It's too bad. ... We sat back. We were passive. You can't play scared. I thought we sat on our heels and just didn't take it to them at all."

Indeed, the defending Olympic champions left little doubt about their North American hockey dominance in a rematch of the finale of the Vancouver Games. Although the Canadians had no signature moments and never pulled away, they also never appeared seriously threatened.

From faceoff to final buzzer, Canada was in control thanks to Price, Benn and defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, whose pass created Benn's goal. All three players weren't on the Canadian team in Vancouver, but they're a win away from earning their own gold medals.

"Obviously we knew it was going to be a tight match going in," Benn said. "We found a way to get one, our team played great team defense, and our goalie shut the door."

The Canadians haven't even trailed in the Sochi Olympics, and they coolly maintained border supremacy on the U.S. by defending their blue line with authority.

Their stifling defense has allowed just three goals in five games, and they clamped down on an American offense that had scored 19 goals in Sochi for every minute of a slightly anti-climactic evening.

"We didn't really create much offense," U.S. forward Patrick Kane said. "It's a little disappointing. ... I think everyone expected a tight-checking game, but to say we would have gotten shut out, I don't think anyone would have thought that."

Jonathan Quick stopped 36 shots in a strong performance for the Americans, who had trailed for just 7:19 in Sochi before Benn's goal put them in a hole they never escaped.

Canada scored early in the second period during a shift by Benn and Anaheim Ducks teammates Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf. Benn got the puck outside to Bouwmeester, who threaded a pass into the slot for Benn's deflection past Quick, whose aggression sometimes makes him vulnerable to such shots.

Benn, the Dallas Stars captain, didn't get an invitation to Canada's summer Olympic orientation camp and was one of the last players added to the roster. But he's had a great tournament and his goal was all the offense needed by Price, the Montreal goalie who easily handled the Americans' few good chances, including their clunky power plays.

Crosby still has no goals through five games in Sochi, but the Canadian captain had his best overall game as Canada beat the Americans for the fourth time in five Olympic meetings since the NHL players joined the party in 1998. The showdown might have been the last Olympic meeting of these nations' best players for a long while if the NHL keeps players out of the 2018 Pyeongchang Games, forcing the rivalry to move to a World Cup or world championship.

The Americans still haven't won Olympic gold since the Miracle on Ice in a drought that will be at 38 years by the next Olympics, no matter who's wearing the U.S. uniform there.

"I think it was maybe a little too perimeter and not much traffic in front of their net," U.S. forward David Backes said. "Kudos to them for keeping us to the outside, but we've got to find ways to get to the inside and make things happens."

For all the talent and high stakes on the ice, the Bolshoy wasn't exactly rocking for the game, with the predominantly Russian crowd apparently struggling to decide whom to root against.

The scoreless first period was still fast and exciting, with Quick stopping 16 Canadian shots. Crosby shook off his early-tournament struggles and played at a breakneck pace, while the American forwards generated numerous chances on pure speed.

US GM: No sight in right eye after hit by puck

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) David Poile may not see again out of his right eye after taking a puck to the face. That's not stopping the general manager of the U.S. hockey team and the Nashville Predators as he returns to work.

"I'm not trying to be a hero or anything else," Poile said Thursday. "This is not a good situation. It is difficult but I have to, and want to, move on. . There's different adjustments that (I'm) going to have to make, but there's lots of people that have lost an eye and they're operating very well and I have to be one of them."

Poile wore an eye patch as he spoke with reporters Thursday in his first public comments since being hit Feb. 6 during a pregame skate in Minnesota. The puck broke his nose in three places and cracked the orbital bone above and below his right eye. Poile said that required 40 stitches above the eye with stitches in the eye itself with three surgeries, the last Feb. 14 in Nashville.

The general manager also said he was on the bench when hit by the puck.

"I was clearly at the wrong place at the wrong time," Poile said. "I don't like going on the bench. I hardly ever go on the bench, and I sort of always stay down in the hallway just because of situations like that. As we say in hockey, it was a seeing-eye puck."

Poile plans to get glasses to provide protection for his right eye and said he didn't listen specifically to all the details of the injury. He joked that doctors even improved his nose in treating him.

"All I know is there's substantial damage such to the point that I don't have any sight today and ... they're holding out hope that maybe something will change as the eye heals," Poile said.

The injury prevented Poile from attending the Sochi Olympics, so he has been talking to assistant general manager Ray Shero and coach Dan Bylsma daily. Poile said 90 percent of the work as general manager was done before everyone headed to Sochi, so he finds himself now disappointed at not being in Russia as he serves as a long-distance cheerleader.

Poile said he couldn't be prouder of what has happened so far.

"Clearly, to this point USA is the best team," Poile said. "I mean all the things that we did to put the team to this point have come to fruition. I couldn't ask for a better scenario playing Canada tomorrow in the, I wish it was the gold medal game. It feels like it's the gold medal game, but you know from four years ago to get back to that same point I mean you ask, pray for those opportunities to be given second chances."

Poile was assistant general manager for the U.S. team that lost the gold medal to Canada in overtime in the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.

His travel also will be limited for the next few weeks. The Predators have a five-game home stand after the Olympic break ends, but Poile likely will miss their first road trip March 10 when they play at Ottawa, then Buffalo and Chicago.

The NHL trade deadline is March 5. Poile said Nashville's biggest move could be the return of goaltender Pekka Rinne. The two-time Vezina Trophy finalist returned to the ice Wednesday, though there's no timeline yet as Rinne returns from an infection in his hip that needed surgery and has sidelined him since late October.

"I can't think of anybody that's going to be able to add something better than that to their team," Poile said of Rinne.

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Follow Teresa M. Walker at www.twitter.com/teresamwalker

Hamlin, Kenseth win Daytona 500 qualifying races

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) It's been 21 years since Joe Gibbs Racing celebrated its only Daytona 500 victory.

Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth have the team in good position to end the drought.

The JGR drivers swept the Daytona 500 qualifying races Thursday night. For Kenseth, it was redemption after a pair of wrecks during Speedweeks. Hamlin's victory kept him undefeated on 2014.

Hamlin also won last Saturday's exhibition Sprint Unlimited, and he goes into Sunday's season-opening Daytona 500 trying to become the first driver in history to sweep Speedweeks.

"Once that snowball starts to roll, it's hard to stop it, and right now we're just on a heck of a run," said Hamlin, who closed last year with a win in the season finale.

After going so many years without winning a second Daytona 500, team owner Joe Gibbs wasn't looking ahead. His only win was with Dale Jarrett in 1993.

"We've come with great cars over the years. It shows you what a tough race this is, the 500," he said. "This race is extremely, extremely hard to win. That probably says it the best. That says it the best, over 21 years, that's a bunch."

JGR had strong cars last season and seemed to be the team to beat during the race, but came up empty when Kenseth's engine failed while leading. Minutes later, teammate Kyle Busch's engine also failed. Toyota is still looking for its first win in the "Great American Race."

"The last Daytona was so far away, we've moved well beyond that," said Toyota Racing Development President David Wilson. "We're certainly not sweating the issues we had last year."

The qualifying races make for an emotional day as drivers race their way into the Daytona 500, while others are sent home from the biggest event of the NASCAR season.

Those left broken-hearted this year were Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek, Ryan Truex, Eric McClure and Morgan Shepherd, who at 72 was trying to become the oldest driver in the field. Dave Blaney withdrew from the qualifying race after wrecking his only car in Wednesday's practice.

But it was euphoria for the small teams of Swan Racing, which got both Cole Whitt and Parker Kligerman in the race a day after both drivers wrecked in practice, and Hillman Racing, which will be in the Daytona 500 with Landon Cassill, who was hit by a car Saturday while riding his bike in Daytona.

"I've been stressed out about this since July," Cassill said. "I think I've played this race over in my head, what I think it could do, for months now. For a small team, this race kind of makes our whole season, just the prize money alone to start on Sunday gets us through the next six or seven weeks. It's just huge for us."

For Swan Racing, getting rookies Whitt and Kligerman into the field erased the nightmare of Wednesday.

Whitt wrecked moments into practice, and the team was forced to rebuild his car after Kligerman's was totaled when he went airborne. It was the first time Kligerman was ever upside down. Because Swan has only one backup, Kligerman got it, and the team went to work rebuilding Whitt's car.

Whitt raced his way in, but Kligerman faded in the first race and had to nervously watch the second race unfold to see if he earned a spot in the Daytona 500.

"I feel like in a lot of ways, you have the weight of an organization on your shoulders to get these two cars in the race," Kligerman said. "It's a growing organization, an organization that wants to be around for a long time to come."

But the second race ended in chaos, making everyone unsure of anything as defending Daytona 500 winner Jimmie Johnson ran out of gas on the final lap to trigger a crash that caused Clint Bowyer's car to flip.

"I knew he was saving gas coming to the green. It's too bad to tear cars up like that," Bowyer said. "That was one of the wildest flips I've ever had. I think we would have been just fine if I hadn't hit the grass right here."

Johnson was apologetic.

"I feel terrible. To tear up that many race cars ... to see (Bowyer) flip ... certainly want to apologize to everyone," he said. "I tried to get up out of the way. So much energy in the pack that I knew I was going to get run over if I ran out because guys warned me about it - and it did."

The first race was uneventful as Kenseth led two times for 31 of the 60 laps. Harvick pulled out on the final lap to make his bid for the victory. Then Kasey Kahne pulled out of line to make it three-wide.

After the race, Harvick was informed while sitting in the Fox Sports 1 studio as an analyst for the second race that his Chevrolet, sponsored by Budweiser, had failed post-race inspection for the first Budweiser Duel.

"Yeah, well, well, that's no good," Harvick said.

North Carolina rallies to beat No. 5 Duke 74-66

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. (AP) Marcus Paige scored all 13 of his points in the second half, including two big baskets in the final 2 1/2 minutes, to help North Carolina beat No. 5 Duke 74-66 on Thursday night in the rivalry's weather-delayed game.

Senior Leslie McDonald added a season-high 21 points for the Tar Heels (19-7, 9-4 Atlantic Coast Conference), who rallied from 11 down in the second half to snap a two-game home losing streak to the Blue Devils (21-6, 10-4).

It was North Carolina's eighth straight win and by far its most impressive during the run that has helped the Tar Heels dig out from an 0-3 ACC start.

When it was over, UNC students and fans stormed to midcourt to celebrate a win that was came eight days later than they had hoped due to a winter storm that forced the game's postponement last week.

Two men sentenced in brutal attack on Giants fan

LOS ANGELES -- An angry judge lashed out Thursday as he sentenced two men who pleaded guilty in the savage beating of an avid San Francisco Giants fan at Dodger Stadium, calling them cowards and a nightmare for people who go to games.

Judge George Lomeli also called out defendant Louie Sanchez for smirking during the hearing on the 2011 beating that left 45-year-old victim Bryan Stow brain damaged and permanently disabled, requiring 24-hour-a-day care.

"You are the biggest nightmare for people who attend public events," Lomeli said as he faced Sanchez and co-defendant Marvin Norwood across a courtroom crowded with media and members of Stow's family who wept and denounced the two men.

Lomeli told them, "You not only ruined the life of Mr. Stow (but) his children, his family, his friends."

Sanchez, 31, acknowledging he kicked and punched Stow, pleaded guilty to one count of mayhem and was sentenced to eight years in prison with credit for 1,086 days.

Norwood pleaded guilty to one count of assault likely to produce great bodily injury and was sentenced to four years. His credit for time already in custody appeared to account for at least the majority of that term.

Deputy District Attorney Michele Hanisee said Norwood could be released immediately. However, they still face federal weapons possession charges that could send them to federal prison for another 10 years.

The men were sentenced after Stow's family addressed the court. His sisters wept.

David Stow, the victim's father, placed a Giants ball cap on a podium before he spoke.

"The years you spend in prison is what you cretins deserve," he said as Sanchez smirked at him.

The victim's sister, Bonnie Stow, described her brother's anguished life.

"We shower him, we dress him, we fix his meals," she said. "We make sure he gets his 13 medications throughout the day. He takes two different anti-seizure medications to prevent the seizures he endured for months after you brutally and cowardly attacked him."

The beating shocked sports fans everywhere and drew attention to the problem of fan violence at sports events.

Both teams issued brief statements after the sentencing.

"We are pleased that the culpable parties have finally accepted responsibility for their actions and have been sentenced for their crimes," the Dodgers said. The team did not comment further, citing a pending civil suit over the attack.

Giants' spokeswoman Shana Daum said, "We continue to support Bryan and his family and hope that this development will help the Stows as they move forward from this tragic event."

Stow, a paramedic from Santa Cruz, was nearly beaten to death in a parking lot after attending the 2011 opening day game between the fierce rivals The attack prompted public outrage and led to increased security at Dodgers' games. A civil suit by Stow is pending against the Dodgers organization and former owner Frank McCourt.

Outside court, Hanisee said prosecutors had obtained sentences close to the maximum possible if the defendants had been convicted at a trial. She said there were insufficient facts to justify a more severe charge of attempted murder.

Sanchez and Norwood were arrested after a lengthy manhunt and acknowledged their involvement during a series of secretly recorded jailhouse conversations.

Norwood was recorded telling his mother by phone that he was involved and saying, "I will certainly go down for it."

The words the two men spoke in a jail lockup, unaware they were being recorded, were played at a previous preliminary hearing as they were ordered to stand trial on charges of mayhem and assault and battery.

Sanchez acknowledged he attacked a Giants fan, and Norwood said he had no regrets about backing him up.

Witnesses testified about the parking lot confrontation, saying Stow was jumped from behind and his head crashed to the pavement. While he was on the ground, Sanchez kicked him in the head three times, they said.

Last spring, Stow returned home after two years in rehabilitation centers and hospitals.

James leads Heat past Thunder

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) LeBron James scored 33 points before leaving in the fourth quarter with a bloody nose and the Miami Heat beat the Oklahoma City Thunder 103-81 on Thursday night.

James went down with 5:50 remaining after he was struck by Oklahoma City's Serge Ibaka on a drive to the basket. James finished the dunk, but was bloodied and left the court with a towel over his face.

Dwyane Wade had 24 points and 10 assists and Chris Bosh added 24 points for Miami, which won its fourth straight and avenged an earlier loss to Oklahoma City.

Kevin Durant scored 28 points for Oklahoma City. Russell Westbrook, who had missed the previous 27 games after having a surgery on his right knee, started and scored 16 points.

Oklahoma City lost at home for the first time since Jan. 5.

The Thunder overcame an early 18-point deficit on Jan. 29 to roll past the Heat 112-95 in Miami, and the home fans hoped for a regular-season sweep against the team that beat Oklahoma City in the 2012 NBA Finals.

The crowd erupted as Westbrook was introduced as a starter. His first minute of action was furious and had the crowd on its feet. His first basket was a two-handed, fast-break dunk 37 seconds into the game, and he got a steal 17 seconds later.

The excitement quickly evaporated. James scored 10 points in the first 3:11 on 5-for-5 shooting and Miami made 13 of its first 14 shots to take a 28-13 lead. James scored 16 points to help the Heat lead 34-17 at the end of the first quarter.

The Heat extended their lead to 19 points in the second quarter before the Thunder rallied behind Westbrook. He scored nine points in the final 1:55 of the first half, including a dunk in the closing seconds, to trim Miami's lead to 54-47 at the break.

Miami took control early in the third quarter. James scored six points during a 10-0 run that helped the Heat take a 64-49 lead. The Heat extended their lead to 75-53 on a 3-pointer by James with just over five minutes left in the third quarter.

Durant scored seven points in the final 2:46 of the quarter to trim Miami's edge to 76-65 heading into the fourth quarter.

Miami reasserted itself in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter. Bosh hit a 3-pointer to bump the Heat's lead back up to 19 with just under 10 minutes to go.

NOTES: Thunder G Reggie Jackson, who started while Westbrook was out, entered the game in the first quarter as a reserve. ... Durant scored just two points on 1-for-5 shooting in the first quarter. ... Miami shot 76 percent in the first quarter but made just 7 of 17 shots in the second and was outscored 30-20. ... Perkins left the game in the third quarter with a left groin strain and did not return.

Pacers trade Granger to 76ers for Turner

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The Indiana Pacers pulled off one more bold move before Thursday's trading deadline.

Less than three weeks after signing Andrew Bynum, Indiana sent Danny Granger and a 2015 second-round draft pick to Philadelphia in exchange for former first-round pick Evan Turner and forward Lavoy Allen.

The teams confirmed the deal late Thursday after the NBA's league office approved it. The draft pick originally belonged to Golden State.

Yahoo! Sports first reported the trade.

Indiana now adds two young forwards - players who could help them as they attempt to dethrone two-time defending NBA champion Miami and finally win their first NBA title. But they had to give up Granger, a fan favorite who was once considered the face of the franchise.

"We thank Danny for his 8 1/2 seasons with us and we appreciate everything he did for us in his time here," president of basketball operations Larry Bird said in a statement. "We felt we needed to make this trade to strengthen the core unit and our bench. In Evan and Lavoy, we think we got two really good players that can help us and we look forward to what they can bring."

What the rebuilding 76ers are getting is 30-year-old forward who missed all but five games last season with a knee injury and almost the first two months of this season with a strained left calf. Granger, who led Indiana in scoring for the five straight seasons before his knee injury, also has an expiring contract, and Philadelphia will get another pick in a draft many believe will be rife with talent.

The trade also could help teams on both ends of the NBA's spectrum.

Indiana has now picked up three former 76ers this month - Bynum, Turner and Allen - in an effort to add more scoring punch for their expected playoff showdown with Miami. The Pacers already have the best record in the East (41-13) and lead the Heat by two games in the chase for home-court advantage.

Philadelphia, meanwhile, went into Thursday with the second-worst record in the league at 15-40 and now appears poised to make a run at surpassing Milwaukee for the worst mark in the NBA.

In a flurry of moves, the 76ers picked up a handful of draft picks, a few veterans and lost two of their top four scorers.

Turner, a 6-foot-7 guard, was the No. 2 overall draft pick in 2010 after winning college basketball's player of the year award. He was averaging a team-high 17.4 points, 6.0 rebounds and 3.7 assists and could become a free agent after this season. He has averaged of 11.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game in 3 1/2 NBA seasons.

Granger was averaging 8.3 points since returning from a strained left calf in mid-December, but he has career averages of 17.6 points, 5.1 rebounds and 2.0 assists. He played in the 2009 All-Star Game and was voted the league's Most Improved Player in 2008-09.

The 76ers also sent Spencer Hawes, their top rebounder, to Cleveland earlier in the day. He was averaging 13.0 points and 8.5 rebounds in the final year of his contract.

But Philadelphia certainly loaded up on second-round picks.

In addition to getting Indiana's choice, the 76ers also acquired two second-round picks, forward Earl Clark and center Henry Sims in the deal with Cleveland and added guard Eric Maynor from Washington in a three-way deal that netted a 2016 second-round pick from Denver and a 2015- second-round pick from New Orleans.

And the usually cost-conscious Pacers now look like they are loading up on big bodies for the playoffs.

They've added the 7-foot Bynum, a former All-Star who missed all of last season in Philly because of knee injuries. This season, he signed with Cleveland as a free agent before getting traded to Chicago and then released. Indiana signed Bynum on Feb. 1 and though he has not played, coach Frank Vogel said he didn't expect Bynum to play for a few weeks.

Allen, a 6-foot-9, 255-pound forward, was averaging 5.2 points and 5.4 rebounds with Philadelphia.

To clear room on the roster, Indiana waived Orlando Johnson, a second-year guard they obtained in a draft night trade in 2012.

"Orlando is a great kid," said Bird. "We appreciate everything he's done for us and hope he has a long and successful career."

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AP Sports Writer Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia also contributed to this report.

Braves reach 7-year, $58 million deal with Simmons

ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Braves and shortstop Andrelton Simmons agreed on a $58 million, seven-year contract on Thursday, a record deal for the latest young star locked up by the NL East champions.

The deal, which runs through the 2020 season, is the largest ever awarded to a player subject to American draft rules with less than two years of service time. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo signed a $41 million, seven-year contract last May.

Simmons, 24, showed power potential in 2013, when he hit 17 home runs, but he earned the big contract with his defense. He won his first Gold Glove award in 2013, when he led the major leagues with 499 assists.

"We feel that Andrelton is one of the premier shortstops in the game today, and we are happy that we were able to agree on this multiyear contract," general manager Frank Wren said in a statement released by the team.

The Braves this month also reached multiyear agreements with first baseman Freddie Freeman, outfielder Jason Heyward, closer Craig Kimbrel and right-hander Julio Teheran, committing $280.7 million to the rising stars, including Simmons.

Simmons hit .248 and drove in 59 runs last season. He earned the new contract after playing in only 206 career games.

Simmons received a $1 million signing bonus and will earn $1 million this season. He will earn $3 million in 2015, $6 million in 2016, $8 million in 2017, $11 million in 2018, $13 million in 2019 and $15 million in 2020.

It has been a busy month for the Braves and Wren.

On Sunday, the team agreed to a $42 million, four-year contract with Kimbrel, 25, the All-Star closer. That came two days after the 23-year-old Teheran agreed to terms on a six-year, $32.4 million deal.

Earlier this month, the Braves announced multiyear deals with a pair of 24-year-old hitters - Freeman and Heyward.

Freeman, the All-Star first baseman, agreed to the biggest contract in Braves history - $135 million for eight years.

Of all the new deals, only Heyward's is for fewer than four years. Heyward, the outfielder who won his first Gold Glove in 2012, signed for two years and $13.3 million.

Even management has been included in the wave of new deals. Manager Fredi Gonzalez and Wren also have been given contract extensions.

Simmons ranks with Freeman, Kimbrel, Teheran, Heyward, Justin Upton, left-hander Mike Minor and others as the foundation for the Braves' future. Chipper Jones retired after the 2012 season, and Tim Hudson and catcher Brian McCann departed as free agents after last season, leaving the team that won 96 games last year with a young roster.

Simmons hit only .216 against left-handers last season, and he hit only .219 in 283 at-bats as a leadoff hitter. The team took off when Heyward was moved to the leadoff spot, and Simmons was more productive in other spots in the lineup.

US skater Wagner plans to compete in four years

SOCHI, Russia -- Ashley Wagner marvels at how far coach Rafael Arutyunyan has pushed her in the past month. She can only imagine what she might accomplish in four years.

The two-time U.S. figure skating champion plans to keep competing through the 2018 Olympics, when she would be 26. Wagner finished seventh at the Sochi Olympics after a nearly clean free skate Thursday, celebrating with a swinging fist pump.

"I think I'm starting to lay the groundwork for myself to be one of the top competitors over the next four years," Wagner said.

Her two teenage teammates, Gracie Gold and Polina Edmunds, fell in their programs Thursday, but had encouraging performances in their Olympic debuts. For now, the state of American figure skating is such that auspicious showings have replaced winning medals. This was the first time the U.S. women failed to make the podium in back-to-back Winter Games.

The 18-year-old Gold was fourth, though more than 11 points out of the bronze medal position; Edmunds, 15, placed ninth in her first international competition at the senior level. Still, in a sport where the new gold medalist, Russia's Adelina Sotnikova, is 17, there are no guarantees that promising young skaters will mature into champions.

At the last Olympics in Vancouver, another American teen, Mirai Nagasu, took fourth. But Nagasu, only 16 at the time, has mostly struggled since, and she failed to make the team for Sochi.

It was Wagner who knocked her off the 2014 squad after Nagasu finished third at nationals last month. U.S. Figure Skating officials chose Wagner because of her strong performances over the previous year, even though she fell twice in her free skate in Boston to place fourth.

Wagner validated that decision in Sochi with solid short programs in the team event, helping the Americans win bronze, and the individual competition. She thought her scores could have been higher, but these games were about proving to herself she could hold up under pressure.

In the four weeks between nationals and the Olympics, she and Arutyunyan overhauled her free skate, and he pushed her past her previous limits in workouts. The two have been working together for just six months.

"I think I have come from a bawling, scared 22-year old girl to a tough, proud, happy woman coming home to the U.S. with a medal and three clean performances," Wagner said.

When she spent a restless night in Boston fearing she had blown her chance at the Olympics, Wagner promised herself she'd stick around for another four years if she narrowly missed out, just as she did in 2010. Telling that story after she was picked for the team, Wagner made it sound like a reluctant decision. But once she landed in Sochi, Wagner said Thursday, she realized she wanted to skate at the Pyeongchang Games.

Of Thursday's three medalists, only Sotnikova is likely to still be competing in 2018.

"It's a changing of the guard now, and I want to be there," Wagner said.

Gold and Edmunds certainly plan to be there, too. Both fell on a triple flip Thursday, but looked poised in their performances in Sochi.

"I definitely have two Olympics in me," said Gold, the reigning U.S. champ.

At least she had the experience of competing at last year's world championships. Edmunds had never competed internationally above the junior level before Wednesday.

"The judges haven't really seen me skate for years like some of the other competitors," she said. "I knew that the only thing I could do is skate a great program and show them what I could do for future competitions to come."

SOCHI: Bowman wins halfpipe gold as Canadian skier is remembered

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Sarah Burke's parents looked up the hill and saw the halfpipe workers making one last trip down in the formation of a heart.

They looked the other direction and saw the scoreboard: Maddie Bowman of the United States won gold, Marie Martinod of France took silver and Ayana Onozuka of Japan took bronze.

All around them Thursday, Burke's parents saw their late daughter's dreams play out on a crisp, clear night in the mountains above Sochi -- a night her dad, Gord Burke, called "perfect." His daughter had succeeded not only in bringing women's halfpipe skiing to the Olympics, but also to the world.

"Far beyond what I thought it would be," said Gord Burke, who traveled to Russia from Toronto and spent the entire night smiling. "I never really imagined so much love for one person. So much passion and energy."

Burke was the Canadian freeskiing icon -- a four-time winner of the Winter X Games -- who fought hard, first to get women involved in her sport, then to take it to the highest level.

"If she wasn't skiing in the pipe, progressing the sport, she was talking to the right people and sending the right emails," said Burke's husband, Rory Bushfield. "Gracefully is how she did it."

The International Olympic Committee added halfpipe and slopestyle skiing to the program in 2011. Less than a year later, Burke died after suffering fatal injuries during a training run in the halfpipe. She was 29 and would have almost certainly been the favorite in this event had she been here.

This was still her night, and none of the 23 skiers who dropped into the pipe could argue with that.

Including the gold-medal winner, Bowman. The 20-year-old from South Lake Tahoe, Calif., felt like an outsider when she started in the sport and called meeting Burke "the coolest moment of my life."

"The first time she met Sarah, she was off by herself," said Bowman's mom, Susan. "Sarah saw that she was by herself and brought her over, introduced herself and brought her into the group. It was pretty amazing."

The silver medalist, Martinod, quit the sport seven years ago. She had a daughter, Melirose, and worked at a nightclub back home in France. One day about three years ago, Burke came knocking on her door, telling her she needed to un-retire, because the show was going to the Olympics and she wanted to make sure all the best women were there.

"I'm thinking of Sarah every day," said the 29-year-old Frenchwoman, who painted snowflakes on her fingernails to match the tattoo Burke had on her foot. "I think I didn't say goodbye to Sarah yet and I still have to do it, and now I feel I'm able to do it because I did what she asked me to do."

The bronze medalist, Onozuka, was an Alpine skier before Burke helped get her version of freestyle skiing into the Olympics. That opened up opportunities in Japan, which has won three medals in the halfpipe at the Sochi Games -- the other two came in men's snowboarding.

"I decided to take up a new profession," Onozuka said.

Burke's mom, Jan Phelan, wore a bright purple jacket over an aqua T-shirt that said "Dream Without Fear" -- a credo the family uses to promote the Sarah Burke Foundation, which funds winter sports athletes who need a boost.

For a while now, Bushfield, Phelan and Gord Burke have known this trip was coming. They didn't hesitate to make it.

"It was Sarah's dream to be here, so, we're here," Phelan said. "The halfpipe is opening for the women and I miss her like crazy. It really hasn't been too hard until right now. The moment."

Burke's father spent the contest shifting attention between the action in the halfpipe to the people who came to meet him and shake his hand. He shared stories, including a few about the early days, when his daughter would head to men-only contests and ask, politely, if she could sign up.

"They'd say, `We'd love to have you but we can't give you a girl's event if there are no girls," Burke said. "So, she'd ski against the guys. Then, she'd be out there encouraging her friends to get involved. She just had that dream that the girls could have fun out there, too."

They had fun Thursday night. Bowman was the star.

Her runs were technically precise and high flying. The winning score of 89 came thanks to one straight-air jump more than 10 feet above the halfpipe, followed by a pair of 900-degree spins, along with two 720-degree spins, one of which she landed backward.

But the most winning moment may have come a few minutes after her first run, when one of Bowman's main competitors, American Brita Sigourney, fell hard and scraped her face on the bottom of the pipe, leaving a nasty gash in her nose. Sigourney's coaches and medical staff rushed out to help her. Rushing up right behind them in her ski boots was the woman wearing bib No. 2 -- Bowman.

"I think all the girls came out here and showed the world who we are and what we do," she said. "I think everyone should be proud of that tonight."

Long after Bowman had sealed her win and the music and the fanfare had ebbed, Burke's parents lingered in the stands, going over the evening.

The consensus: A beautiful night.

"The spirit here was so good," Phelan said. "Sarah would've loved it."

SOCHI: Russian Sotnikova wins gold in women's figure skating

SOCHI, Russia -- Russia's cupboard was so bare of world-class female figure skaters that the sport's most dominant nation had to turn to the kids a few years ago.

Among those youngsters was Adelina Sotnikova, who won a national championship in 2009, when she was just 12.

She was too young to compete at the 2010 Olympics. When she finally got to the games this year, she was overshadowed by an even younger teammate. But on Thursday night, the 17-year-old Sotnikova looked comfortable and unburdened by the pressure of the host nation, becoming Russia's first gold medalist in women's Olympic figure skating.

In the signature moment of the games for Russians, Sotnikova defeated defending champion Yuna Kim of South Korea. Both women skated nearly flawless programs, but Sotnikova completed one more decisive triple jump.

"I first dreamed to be at the Olympics after the nationals in 2010," Sotnikova said. "And when I watched the games in Vancouver, I really wanted to qualify for the next games. I knew it won't be easy. There are so many new talented girls around."

Well, not really in Russia. Not until Sotnikova and 15-year-old Julia Lipnitskaia developed into junior world champions.

And while much-heralded Lipnitskaia was stumbling in Sochi, Sotnikova soared. When she won the free skate, she further confirmed Russian command of the sport.

"This is the happiest day in my life," Sotnikova said. "I simply stepped on the ice today and realized how much I like what I'm doing and skated really good."

The Russians have won three figure skating gold medals at these Olympics: women's, pairs and team.

Sotnikova did not skate in the team event, and that provided incentive for her in the individual competition.

"When I found out that I was not in the team, it was hurtful. I felt ugly inside," she said. "Maybe it is all for the best -- an advantage for me to make me so mad."

Sotnikova was considered a long shot against the likes of Kim, who announced her retirement after the free skate; Italy's Carolina Kostner, who took bronze; Japan's Mao Asada; and even Americans Gracie Gold and Ashley Wagner.

But she won it all, giving Russia or the Soviet Union 27 Olympic gold medals in the sport. They own five men's golds, 13 in pairs, seven in ice dance, and took the first team event this year.

Sotnikova was watching the scores on a monitor in the media area when she realized she won. She ran waving her arms in the air before finding her coach for a warm hug. When she got onto the podium for the flower ceremony, to raucous chants of "Ro-ssi-ya," she jumped up and down like a teenager whose Olympic goal had come true.

"It's the Olympics. And it was a long way for me," she said. "To compete at the Olympic Games, I dreamed of any medal, but frankly speaking, I wanted a gold one."

Lipnitskaia was fifth.

"I wanted to skate my best today but it didn't work," she said. "I've lost control over my jumps- tiredness and emotions."

Asada was third in the free skate after finishing 16th in Wednesday's short program and wound up sixth.

Sotnikova trailed Kim by just .28 going into Thursday, and she overcame that by winning the free skate 149.95 to Kim's 144.19. The final totals were 224.59 for Sotnikova, 219.11 for Kim and 216.73 for Kostner.

Skating last, Kim needed a repeat of her Vancouver performance to hold onto the gold. She nailed six triple jumps, one less than Sotnikova, and Kim's artistry couldn't make up the difference.

"At that time I could die for gold in the Olympics," she said of 2010. "But that desire, that strong wish, was not as present. The motivation was a problem, I think."

Gold finished fourth, Wagner seventh and 15-year-old American Polina Edmunds ninth.

Wagner didn't complain about her score, but criticized a scoring system that invites skepticism. Nine judges score each skater, and the individual judges' scorecards are not released.

"People do not want to watch a sport where they see someone skate lights out and they can't depend on that person to be the one who pulls through," Wagner said. "We've all been on the receiving end of it, and we've all been on the side where you don't really get the benefit of the doubt. People need to be held accountable.

"They need to get rid of the anonymous judging."

Kostner, 27, skated to the sport's iconic musical piece "Bolero." From beginning to end, she owned the music -- and by the finish, she owned much of the crowd, too.

She patted her heart when she was done, and her 142.61 was a season's best.

"This medal is absolutely worth gold," said the first Italian to win an Olympic figure skating singles medal. "I will cherish it in my heart. It feels so great that patience and sacrifice and hard work and faith are paid at the end."

Sotnikova, whose interpretation marks surpassed Kostner's but not Kim's, skated a routine filled with action and pace, and she hit seven triple jumps. There wasn't much interaction with the music, but the energy sold the program.

That left only Kim with a shot at gold. She couldn't match the feat of Katarina Witt or Sonja Henie, who both won back-to-back Olympic titles.

To chants of "Jul-i-a, Jul-i-a," Lipnitskaia took the ice first in the last group, knowing her chances to win were ruined with a fall in the short program. Again she struggled in the second half of her routine, stepping out of one jump and falling on another. She showed little emotion when she finished, in direct contrast to when she helped Russia win the team gold.

With a slight frown, she left the ice, waved weakly to the crowd from the kiss-and-cry area, and wound up fifth, far below expectations.

But Sotnikova made up for it for Russia.

SOCHI: Canada women stun US women, take hockey gold

SOCHI, Russia -- The puck skittered the length of the ice on its way toward the empty Canadian net before clanging off the post and stopping in front of the crease.

It was -- for a few more seconds, at least -- still a one-goal game.

Then Marie-Philip Poulin scored with 54.6 seconds left in regulation, completing Canada's comeback from a two-goal deficit and sending the game into overtime. Once there, she added the gold medal-winning goal to beat the United States 3-2 -- the fourth consecutive Olympic women's hockey title for the sport's birthplace.

"I think it always gets better, for sure," Poulin, who also scored twice in the Vancouver final four years ago, said Thursday night with her second gold medal draped around her neck. "It's so hard to get here and to bring it back (home) is amazing."

Shannon Szabados made 27 saves for Canada, which has won 20 straight Olympic games since the Nagano final in 1998. That was the only gold medal for the United States, which lost in the Olympic final to Canada in all three tries since then and earned a bronze in 2006.

Meghan Duggan and Alex Carpenter scored for the Americans. Jesse Vetter made 28 saves, shutting the powerful Canadians down for 56 minutes, 34 seconds before Brianne Jenner knocked a seemingly harmless shot off a defender's knee and into the net.

With Szabados pulled for an extra skater, U.S. forward Kelli Stack sent a clearing shot down the ice, missing a potential game-clinching empty-net goal by inches.

Even after insisting her confidence never wavered, Canada defenseman Jocelyne Larocque's eyes grew wide when asked about the near clincher.

"I was freaked out at that point," she said. "It hit the post and I went, `You know, it happened for a reason. We're going to get that goal."

Stack said she could see the puck had the wrong angle, but she didn't worry because the U.S. still had a 2-1 lead with just over a minute to play.

About 30 seconds later, with the goalie still off, Poulin tied it and sent the game into overtime.

"It would have given us a bigger cushion," said Stack, who played at Boston College. "I've done that once before in college, and it's the worst feeling in the world."

After six tense minutes of the extra period, the U.S. picked up a power play when Catherine Ward was sent off for cross-checking. But five seconds later, Jocelyne Lamoureux was called for slashing for swiping at the Szabados' pads after a save.

And during a sloppy player change by the Americans, five-time Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser got free on a breakaway before Hilary Knight caught her from behind and she went sprawling.

It could have been called a penalty shot.

It could have been no call. (Knight denied making any contact at all. And, when asked about the officiating, U.S. coach Katey Stone issued only a terse, "No comment.")

But Knight was sent to the penalty box for cross-checking. With the 4-on-3 advantage, the Canadians worked the puck around and over to Poulin, who knocked it into the open net and set off the celebration on the bench and among the Maple Leaf-waving fans.

"Unfortunately, when you let other factors come in, it can bounce either way. That's what happened today," Knight said. "It's heartbreaking, and you go four years, and you think you've got the game in the bag, and something happens. It's unfortunate, but this group has represented our country at an outstanding level. So can't really be too heartbroken about it."

Switzerland beat Sweden earlier Thursday for the bronze medal at the Bolshoy Ice Dome, where the women moved after playing the preliminaries at the smaller Shayba Arena next door. Switzerland goalie Florence Schelling, who led the tournament with 253 saves in six games, was named Most Valuable Player.

The 10,639 fans at the final included the Canadian men's team that completed a sweep the hockey gold medals in Vancouver four years ago. The Canadian women also beat their southern neighbors three times in a pre-Olympic tour this fall before coach Dan Church quit unexpectedly in December and the Americans won four straight times heading into the Olympics.

Then, in a rare round-robin matchup between the sports' two top powers, the Canadians won 3-2. They extended their Olympic winning streak over the U.S. to four consecutive games.

"For us, it's just a great feeling," said coach Kevin Dineen, who replaced Church. "And for me, it's even more special because it's the first one."

Less than 24 hours before the Canadians and Americans were to meet in the same rink in the men's semifinals, fans wearing Maple Leaf sweaters and Stars and Stripe scarves tried to outshout each other -- with a healthy number of locals chanting "Ro-ssi-ya!" for their long-departed hockey teams.

The pro-Canada crowd grew louder after the first goal, but the second one quieted them until the flurry at the end of regulation.

The hard-hitting first period featured five penalties and no goals. It was still scoreless when Duggan took a drop pass from Lamoureux at the left circle and wristed the puck into the top corner of the net past a screened Szabados.

The U.S. scored on a power play early in the third when Tara Watchorn was sent off for the third time in the game and, with just seconds left in the tripping penalty, Hilary Knight threaded a pass through Canadian defenseman Laura Fortino's legs to Carpenter at the far side of the crease.

She deflected it past Szabados and off the post to make it 2-0.

Locker room culture in spotlight as combine begins

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) This could be as good a time as there has ever been for an openly gay player in the NFL. The league will be watching.

In the wake of the bullying scandal in Miami, executives from teams around the league who gathered for the annual scouting combine spoke Thursday about being on guard to ensure their locker rooms are respectful and tolerant - especially with Michael Sam, expected to soon become the first publicly revealed homosexual in the NFL.

Predictably, general managers and coaches said a culture of respect was already in place with their clubs before Richie Incognito, the Dolphins offensive lineman who led the extreme hazing detailed last week in an NFL-ordered report, became an infamous name. But while there haven't been many major signs of response to the scandal, some tangible signs of change have at least emerged.

Teams have begun to include language in coaches' contracts that forces assistants to act with more tolerance than some of the Dolphins staff did. The move is designed to limit a team's liability if another Miami-like situation were to emerge with another club.

Vikings general manager Rick Spielman confirmed that change, first reported by ESPN.

"I think because it's so much in light right now, that you have to monitor the locker room," Spielman said. "It'll be interesting to see once we get down to the owners meetings in March. I'm sure that'll be a subject that'll be talked about."

Dolphins coach Joe Philbin, drawing an overflow crowd of reporters in his first appearance since the report came out, forcefully reiterated his responsibility for all that happens to his team and promised a "better workplace."

"I have to do a better job. I'm going to look at every way - the way we educate, the way we communicate, the way we talk to one another," Philbin said. "I'm going to look at every avenue."

Reaction from the other 31 teams to the bullying report was far more muted, though other coaches - Dennis Allen of the Oakland Raiders among them - acknowledged the importance of keeping a better handle on locker room dynamics.

Everyone, though, must deal with the questions about Sam, the Missouri defensive end projected to be drafted in the middle rounds.

The NFL recently reminded teams of laws against asking draft prospects about their sexuality and the guidelines for interviewing players this week in Indianapolis. A year ago, three players complained they were asked inappropriate questions they believed were intended to seek details about their sexual orientation.

Talking about harmony is easy in the offseason, of course, but maintaining an atmosphere of respect and tolerance is another story once dozens of players are thrown together. With a 53-man roster, no coach can come close to hearing every word.

"It's hard. You try to set a good culture and a good environment in your building and hope for the best," Denver Broncos coach John Fox said.

Clearly, this issue will be scrutinized this year, with Sam entering the league, and the Dolphins trying to repair their image.

"What happened there has nothing to do with what we are doing in Tampa Bay," new Buccaneers coach Lovie Smith said. "The locker room has been there all along. You have to have strong veteran leadership in the locker room. As the head football coach I have to have a pulse on what is going on in the locker room. Rely on a lot of people. Have a relationship were information comes to me.

"No, we are not going to change what we've done. Our program has always been about acceptance. Everybody feeling like they are part. Everybody feeling good about coming to work every day in an environment where they can do their best."

That is what this next class of rookies is counting on.

"In every locker room you go there's going to be conflict," Memphis punter Tom Hornsey said. "That's just the nature of the game. It's very competitive. It's got a lot of testosterone flowing through. ... But it's not a concern. I'm pretty laid back and just take it as it is."

So what's the secret, then, to making sure the boys-will-be-boys culture that still exists doesn't become the dominant vibe of the locker room?

Well, like with many issues, the Super Bowl champions are usually a good place to start.

"Everybody puts pressure on themselves, and we try to create a culture that's outgoing, fun, aggressive," Seattle Seahawks general manager John Schneider said. "Life's too short to stress yourself out and stress other people out."

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Online:

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Tight end evolution creating new look for NFL

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Eric Ebron exuded confidence from the moment he walked into Lucas Oil Stadium on Thursday.

The top-rated tight end in this year's draft class quickly explained how he could catch passes over the middle, contend with bigger defenders and even improve his blocking.

Yes, Ebron promised to do anything that any NFL team asked - if the club is smart enough to draft him in May.

"If you need me, if you need a tight end, I'm here on the draft board," he said with a daring smile Thursday at the NFL's annual scouting combine.

At 6-foot-2 and 250 pounds, five pounds heavier than his college playing weight, Ebron typifies the modern day tight end.

They aren't just pass-catching or blocking specialists anymore.

Instead, teams are increasingly looking at multi-dimensional players who can really challenge defenses.

This rookie class is rife with possibilities.

In addition to the incredibly athletic Ebron, there's the bulky 6-foot-2, 262-pound Austin Seferian-Jenkins, who considers himself a playmaking receiver, and Trey Burton, who was recruited by Florida as a quarterback and wound up playing receiver and returning kicks before his college career ended.

After playing last season at 222, he still looks out of place with a handful of the other 22 tight ends in Indy tipping the scales at 260 or more.

As the position has evolved, though, guys such as Ebron and Seferian-Jenkins have become increasingly valuable commodities.

"It does put stress on your defense if you've got a guy who can in-line block and create bad matchups for your safeties and linebackers," said new Tampa Bay coach Lovie Smith, who spent most of his career coaching as a defensive assistant. "I think it's safe to say they are getting bigger and bigger, and that's an area we're obviously looking at. It seems like every team is looking for that perfect tight end, and once you get one, it's pretty special."

For some teams, such as the Buccaneers, finding the right guy will be a priority over the next 2 1/2 months.

There are plenty of options to consider.

Some of this year's combine invitees have backgrounds playing basketball, running track or competing in other sports. Others have prominent bloodlines. Jake Murphy's father, Dale, is a former Major League All-Star, and his brother Shawn was once with the Denver Broncos.

Yet it's the uniquely talented Ebron, who currently is on top of the rankings.

"I'm very fast and very different," said Ebron, a projected first-round pick who compared himself to San Francisco's Vernon Davis. "I play the tight end position like no one else. I just do things that other tight ends don't do."

The transition of moving from bulky blocking tight ends to fleeter, more athletic guys can be traced to the late 1990s and early 2000s when former college basketball players Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates made it big. Since then, players such as Davis and Jimmy Graham, who are known for stretching the field, have become all the rage.

But now things seem to be shifting again.

Teams are now telling draft hopefuls that they want big, fast guys and it is making an impact on how these guys build their bodies.

Ebron says he feels stronger and more comfortable at 250 pounds.

He isn't alone. California moved Richard Rogers from tight end to slot receiver after he trimmed down from 275 pounds to 245, but the 6-foot-4, tight end weighed in this week at 257.

Based on Rogers' size and blocking background, it could give him one distinct advantage heading into draft weekend - teams already know what they're getting from Rogers as a receiver and a blocker.

"I haven't done a lot of it (blocking) this past year but my first two years I was always in a three-point stance, or the majority of the time," he said. "So I am definitely comfortable with it."

Ebron, on the other hand, is trying to fill out the final piece of his resume.

He has already proven he can run and catch, and if he can show scouts he is capable of opening holes and sealing the edge, too, he knows teams will view him as the most skilled tight end in this class.

"It's become more demanding," Ebron said of the position. "There's become more of a need for talent, speed, and athleticism rather than big bulky just blocking tight ends. It's become a need of special people to play that position in order to create different mismatches and better offenses, so I feel like I fit right in."

GM King confirms Nets work out Jason Collins

NEW YORK (AP) Looking to add a big man, the Brooklyn Nets have worked out center Jason Collins, who would become the first openly gay active NBA player if signed.

General manager Billy King did not attend the workout in Los Angeles during the All-Star break that was reported by ESPN.com, but said Thursday on a conference call he was told Collins is "in shape."

Collins revealed at the end of last season he is gay. The 35-year-old Collins played in 38 games for Boston and Washington in 2012-13 and hasn't been particularly productive in recent years, but has a number of former teammates on the Nets, including coach Jason Kidd.

Michael Sam, the SEC defensive player of the year from Missouri, recently revealed he is gay and is taking part in this weekend's NFL draft combine.

The Nets have an opening for a big man after trading Reggie Evans along with Jason Terry to Sacramento on Wednesday for guard Marcus Thornton.

King said he and Kidd have a list of players they will consider, and Collins will be on it. He said the players considered will range from those who have been bought out by other NBA teams to those who have been playing in China or the NBA Development League.

Collins played with Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce last season in Boston, and Nets guard Joe Johnson in Atlanta. The well-respected veteran attended the State of the Union address as a guest of first lady Michelle Obama.

King said the Nets wouldn't be concerned about any extra attention the signing of Collins would provide.

"We're going to bring in a basketball player," King said. "It's not about marketing or anything like that."

King said the Nets tried to find another deal for a big man before Thursday's deadline. If they do sign one, he said he wasn't sure if it would be for the rest of the season or on a 10-day contract, adding that would depend on the player.

NJ police: Ravens' Rice knocked out fiancee

ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (AP) A police complaint alleges Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocked out his fiancee during an argument at an Atlantic City casino.

Police charged both Rice and Janay Palmer with simple assault in the incident Saturday at the Revel Casino.

A police complaint says Rice struck her with his hand, "rendering her unconscious." Palmer is also accused of striking Rice with her hand.

Palmer's attorney, Robert Gamburg, said Thursday he's certain neither person committed a crime. Rice's attorney, Michael Diamondstein, has said he hopes the case is shown to be a misunderstanding.

TMZ Sports released a video of what it says shows Rice dragging a seemingly motionless woman out of a Revel Casino elevator.

Diamondstein told The Press of Atlantic City "this is obviously edited video." Neither he nor Palmer's attorney would comment about the video to The Associated Press.

Thunder G Russell Westbrook to return vs. Heat

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook will play Thursday against the Miami Heat.

The team announced the decision a few hours before tipoff. Westbrook has missed 27 games since having a procedure on Dec. 27 to deal with swelling in his injured right knee - the third operation on the knee in nine months. Westbrook made it through a full practice Wednesday for the first time since his most recent surgery, and coach Scott Brooks said he looked good.

Westbrook, a three-time NBA All-Star, tore the lateral meniscus in the knee during the playoffs last April. He underwent an operation after that injury and had another procedure on Oct. 1 to remove a loose stitch.

Oklahoma City went 20-7 after Westbrook's latest setback.

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