Assistant coach Joel Johnson is taking over the United States women’s national hockey team after Bob Corkum abruptly stepped down while citing COVID-19 protocol concerns, less than three weeks before the world championships open in Nova Scotia.

“I was not comfortable with the protocols,” Corkum wrote in a text sent to The Associated Press on Saturday without specifying his concerns.

“It was a difficult decision to make, but one that I am at peace with. The team will not miss a beat. They are in great hands,” he added, referring to Johnson and his two assistants.

Corkum reached his decision Friday as he and players gathered in Maine for the start of training camp in preparation for the world championships, which run from May 6-16.

Corkum, a former UMaine and NHL player, coached the U.S. team to its fifth consecutive world title in 2019. The tournament was canceled last year because of the coronavirus pandemic.

USA Hockey had no comment on Corkum’s response, except to refer to a release it issued announcing the change on Friday night.

“Bob put his heart and and soul into continuing to build on the legacy of our women’s national team program over the past three seasons, and we’re grateful for all he did,” USA Hockey’s director of women’s national team programs Katie Million said. “While he’s stepping away, he’ll always be a big part of the USA Hockey family and we’ll certainly miss him.”

Otherwise, Million did not provide a reason for Corkum’s departure.

Corkum has questioned the value of wearing masks and Canada’s coronavirus pandemic support plans in posts made on his LinkedIn account. In response to a post by Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announcing a program to boost funding for vaccines, health care and for municipalities, Corkum wrote: “Propaganda…. Think ! What is there agenda? Your safety? I think not!”


MONTE CARLO MASTERS: Fourth-seeded Stefanos Tsitsipas swatted aside unseeded Dan Evans 6-2, 6-1 on Saturday to reach the Monte Carlo Masters final for the first time and stay on course for his first title this year.

The big-serving Greek’s opponent in Sunday’s final will be sixth-seeded Russian Andrey Rublev, who beat unseeded Norwegian Casper Ruud, 6-3, 7-5.


TRUCKS: John Hunter Nemechek passed teammate Chandler Smith with 17 laps to go and outran team owner Kyle Busch to win the NASCAR Truck Series race at Virginia’s Richmond Raceway.

Nemechek, already the series points leader, gave Kyle Busch Motorsports its fourth consecutive victory in the series but deprived Busch of a victory at the only track where he hasn’t won in the Truck Series. Busch also was trying to become the only driver to win in all three of NASCAR’s top series on the 0.75-mile, D-shaped oval.


MLS: Robert Beric had a goal and an assist, and the Chicago Fire tied the visiting New England Revolution 2-2 in the season opener for both teams.

Beric opened the scoring in the fifth minute, then set up a goal by Luka Stojanovic six minutes later.

The Revs cut the deficit to 2-1 in the 14th minute when Adam Buksa headed in Carles Gil’s corner, and tied it on Gustavo Bou’s finish off a Tajon Buchanan pass in the 27th minute.

SPAIN: Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona beat Athletic Bilbao 4-0 in Seville to win the Copa del Rey for the 31st time.

Messi’s two goals came after Antoine Griezmann finally beat Bilbao goalkeeper Unai Simon at the hour mark.

Frenkie de Jong headed in a second goal in the 63rd minute before Messi dealt a double blow.

ENGLAND: Manchester City’s quadruple dream was extinguished by Chelsea, which advanced to the FA Cup final with a 1-0 victory on a goal by Hakim Ziyech.

Manchester City already has advanced to the League Cup final next Sunday against Tottenham, but Kevin De Bruyne might be unavailable for City after limping off with an apparent ankle injury.

City also is in the Champions League semifinals and is all but certain of winning the Premier League.

• Newcastle took a big step toward Premier League safety with a 3-2 win at home against 10-man West Ham, after first-half blunders put the visitors in an early hole as they missed a chance to solidify a top-four spot.

GERMANY: Bayern Munich teenager Jamal Musiala scored two goals and was involved in the other as the Bavarian powerhouse opened a seven-point lead in the Bundesliga by holding on for a 3-2 win at Wolfsburg.


FOOTBALL: Nolan Henderson threw two touchdown passes, and Delaware beat Villanova 27-20 in Philadelphia, snapping an eight-game losing streak to the Wildcats and winning the Colonial Athletic Association North Division championship.

A committee of CAA athletic directors selected the Blue Hens (5-0, 4-0) over James Madison as the conference’s automatic qualifier into the Football Championship Subdivision playoffs. The 16-team playoff bracket will be released on Sunday.

• Ethan Ratke kicked three field goals to set a conference record with 67 career field goals, and James Madison (5-0, 3-0 CAA) improved its chances of getting an at-large playoff berth by beating Richmond 23-6 to win the CAA’s South Division.


WORLD TEAM TROPHY: World champion Anna Shcherbakova won the women’s free skate to seal Russia’s first-ever victory at the World Team Trophy in Osaka, Japan.

Russia, which also won the pairs free skate, had 125 points. The United States, the defending champion, was second with 110.

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