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#SportsReport: Masters Underway; RPI Names New Hockey Coach

Dave Smith has been named head coach for the Rensselaer Division 1 men's hockey team.
Dave Smith has been named head coach for the Rensselaer Division 1 men's hockey team.

The Masters:

Charley Hoffman owns a four-stroke lead over William McGirt through one round of the Masters. Hoffman had seven birdies in an 11-hole stretch en route to a 7-under-65 that gives him the largest first-round lead at the Masters since 1955. Lee Westwood is five shots back and one ahead of a group that included Phil Mickelson, Olympic gold medalist Justin Rose and Sergio Garcia.

World No. 1 golfer Dustin Johnson had to withdraw from the Masters due to a lower back injury suffered in a fall at the home he is renting for the tournament. Johnson hit some balls before his round was scheduled to begin, and he walked to the first hole as if he would play in the final group before changing his mind. He was in obvious pain before pulling out of the major, rubbing the back several times and letting his caddie tee up the ball so he didn't have bend over.


In the NBA, Orlando topped Brooklyn 115-107, Washington won against the Knicks 106-103, Atlanta beat Boston 123-116, Portland defeated 105-98, Indiana bested Milwaukee 104-89, and it was Chicago over Philadelphia 102-90.

The Cleveland Cavaliers top the NBA's Eastern Conference by 1 ½ games over Boston following the Celtics' 123-116 loss in Atlanta. Paul Millsap scored 26 points and Tim Hardaway Jr. added 23 as the Hawks also cut Boston's lead over third-place Toronto to two games. The Hawks had lost two straight and nine of 11 before scoring 71 points in the first half to take a 16-point lead.

The Indiana Pacers and Chicago Bulls have moved a half-game ahead of Miami for the NBA's last two Eastern Conference playoff slots while pulling within one game of No. 6 Milwaukee. Paul George had 23 points and 10 rebounds as the Pacers thumped the Bucks, 104-89. Jimmy Butler's triple-double of 19 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists sent the Bulls past the 76ers, 102-90.

Kevin Durant is closer to returning to the Golden State Warriors' lineup. Durant has been medically cleared to resume full practice and is scheduled to play Saturday against New Orleans if he experiences no setbacks. Durant would join a Warriors team riding a 13-game winning streak that allowed them to lock up home-court advantage throughout the playoffs. Durant hasn't played since suffering knee and leg injuries in the early moments of a Feb. 28 loss at Washington.


The only NHL division race to be settled is the Pacific, and the Anaheim Ducks are on the verge of claiming the crown. Last night, Ottawa beat Boston in a shootout 2-1, the Islanders blanked Carolina 3-0, Pittsburgh topped New Jersey 7-4, Calgary beat the Kings 4-1, Edmonton doubled up San Jose 4-2, Arizona beat Vancouver 4-3, Anaheim shut out Chicago 4-0, Minnesota edged Colorado 4-3, St. Louis doubled up Florida 6-3, Nashville bested Dallas 7-3, and Winnipeg skated by Columbus 5-4.

The Ottawa Senators have clinched a spot in the NHL's Eastern Conference playoffs, but the eighth seed remains up for grabs. Craig Anderson handled 28 shots and Ottawa moved into sole possession of second place in the Atlantic by outlasting the third-place Bruins, 2-1 in a shootout at Boston. Brayden Point scored the first and last goals as Tampa Bay dumped the Leafs, 4-1, keeping Tampa Bay and the New York Islanders mathematically alive to catch Toronto for the last remaining conference playoff berth.

Bruins scoring leader Brad Marchand has received a two-game suspension for spearing Tampa Bay defenseman Jake Dotchin earlier this week. Marchand began the punishment Thursday and will miss the regular-season finale.


In Major League Baseball, the Met’s tripled up Atlanta 6-2.

The series finale between the Boston Red Sox and Pittsburgh Pirates scheduled for Thursday has been rained out. The teams will make up the game on April 13th at Fenway Park. The Red Sox won the first two games of the series, including a 3-0 win in 12 innings on Wednesday night. They begin a 4-game series against the Tigers in Detroit this afternoon. The Yankees being a 3-game series tonight in Baltimore.

A minor league team in Rhode Island plans to create a replica of Fenway Park. The Providence Journal reports that the Pawtucket Red Sox are developing a replica of the Red Sox's ballpark with identical field dimensions. PawSox Senior Vice President Dan Rea says the new stadium will be identical down to a copy of Fenway Park's Green Monster wall. Rea says the organization is surveying two possible sites for construction.

Top Yankees pitching prospect James Kaprielian was placed on the minor league disabled list because of pain in his right elbow and will be sent for scans. New York said Thursday that the 23-year-old right-hander, taken with the 16th overall pick in the 2015 amateur draft, will have an MRI and a dye contrast MRI.

Tim Tebow has hit a home run in his first at-bat as a New York Mets minor leaguer. The former NFL quarterback connected for a two-run drive Thursday night for the Columbia Fireflies in a Class A South Atlantic League game against Augusta.

Free agent slugger Ryan Howard has accepted a minor league deal with the Atlanta Braves and will report to the team's Triple-A affiliate at Gwinnett following extended spring training. The 37-year-old Howard wasn't signed by the Phillies after hitting .196 with 25 home runs and 59 RBIs last season. The 2006 National League MVP has hit 382 homers and driven in 1,194 runs in 13 major league seasons, all with the Phils.


The New York Jets have signed free agent tight end Brian Parker. The 6-foot-4, 265-pound tight end was signed by San Diego as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Albany in 2015.


Evgeni Malkin hopes the Pittsburgh Penguins will allow him to compete in the 2018 Winter Olympics. Malkin told Russian sports daily Sovetsky Sport he was surprised by the NHL's announcement Monday that it wouldn't halt its season for players to go to South Korea. Malkin is one of several players who have stated their desire to leave their NHL teams in the middle of next season to compete in the Olympics. The league has not indicated how it will handle the wishes of individual players who want to play in the Olympics.


In the Frozen Four, Denver topped Notre Dame 6-1 to advance to the finals on Saturday. They join Minnesota-Duluth who bested Harvard last night 2-1. The finals start at 8 p.m. tomorrow on ESPN.

RPI has named its new men’s hockey coach. Dave Smith has taken the job after leading the Canisius College team for 12 seasons guiding them to their first regular season title and winning the Atlantic Hockey Coach of the Year. He replaces Seth Appert who was fired last month after his team finished 8-28-1.

A study finds that racial and gender hiring practices in college sports declined from the previous year and still lag behind those in professional sports. The annual report card from The Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport gives college sports a grade of C+ for racial hiring and a C for gender hiring.

A former Baylor University assistant athletic director is dropping his lawsuit against the school and several regents. However, the attorney for Colin Shillinglaw vows to continue efforts to prove through arbitration his client's claims of libel, slander and conspiracy. Baylor officials had used Shillinglaw's case to reveal text messages that they said show former head coach Art Briles and other officials trying to cover up sexual assaults by players and improperly handling assault reports. Briles has denied any wrongdoing. Shillinglaw's lawyer says he didn't participate in any such conduct but can no longer find a job.

The compromise by politicians on North Carolina's "bathroom bill" is helping return collegiate sporting events to the state. But big-city mayors still don't want employees traveling there after the replacement law. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, Washington Mayor Muriel Bowser and several top municipal leaders elsewhere announced this week previous city bans on employee travel to North Carolina remain in place even though the law known as House Bill 2 is off the books. They agree with civil rights groups who argue discrimination still exists in the replacement law agreed to by Democratic Governor Roy Cooper and the Republican-controlled legislature. The NCAA and Atlantic Coast Conference decided the compromise was enough to allow North Carolina to host championship events again after a one-year hiatus.

©2017 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.

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