The Maine Mariners began a four-game trip with a 5-1 ECHL win over the Orlando Solar Bears Wednesday night at the Amway Center in Orlando, Florida.

Nick Master scored two third-period power-play goals for Maine. He also had an assist. Alex-Olivier Voyer added a goal and an assist for Maine, which plays at Atlanta Friday and at South Carolina on Saturday and Sunday nights.

Fedor Gordeev and Alex Kile also scored for the Mariners, who will play seven of their final nine regular-season games at home.

NHL: The Chicago Blackhawks will not wear Pride-themed warm-up jerseys before Sunday’s Pride Night game against Vancouver because of security concerns involving a Russian law that expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQ rights in the country.

The decision was made by the NHL organization following discussions with security officials within and outside the franchise, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the move.


The Blackhawks have worn Pride warm-up jerseys previously and donned special warm-up jerseys on some other themed nights this season. There had been ongoing conversations about a Pride jersey with the players, according to the person who talked to the AP, but the organization made the decision to hold Pride Night without the jerseys this year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a law in December that significantly expands restrictions on activities seen as promoting LGBTQ rights in the country. Chicago defenseman Nikita Zaitsev is a Moscow native, and there are other players with family in Russia or other connections to the country.

The decision by the Blackhawks comes after San Jose Sharks goalie James Reimer and Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Ivan Provorov refused to take part in warm-ups with Pride-themed jerseys. The New York Rangers opted not to wear Pride jerseys or use Pride stick tape as part of their night in January despite previously advertising that plan.

While Chicago will go without Pride warm-up jerseys this year, the team has planned a variety of activities in conjunction with Sunday’s game. DJs from the LGBTQ community will play before the game and during an intermission, and the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus also is slated to perform. There also are plans to highlight a couple of area businesses with ties to the LGBTQ community.

IIHF: Russia and Belarus teams were excluded by the International Ice Hockey Federation on Wednesday from all its world championships next season, including the women’s event in the United States.

The IIHF cited security concerns for players, competition staff and fans — because of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine — to extend the exclusion that will stretch beyond two years when the 2023-24 season is over.


“It is too soon,” IIHF President Luc Tardif said about letting Russia return. “Too many risks.”

The women’s worlds is set to be played in U.S. cities in March or April next year and the men’s event in the Czech Republic is scheduled next May.

Ice hockey is a favorite sport played by both Russian President Vladimir Putin and Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko.

The Russian Hockey Federation dismissed the IIHF’s security concerns as a “contrived reason” to keep its teams out of competition.


MATCH PLAY: Keegan Bradley extended his dubious streak to 16 matches over 11 years without winning in the Dell Technologies Match Play.


Bradley was 4 down with five holes to play when he rallied to scratch out a halve against Denny McCarthy in the opening round at Austin Country Club.

Defending champion and top seed Scottie Scheffler missed two putts inside 5 feet over the last five holes before making a 12-footer for birdie on the 18th to beat Davis Riley in a rematch of their U.S. Junior Amateur title match 10 years ago that Scheffler won.

Jon Rahm, the No. 2 seed, was the only player from the top four seeds to lose. Rickie Fowler took him down on the 17th hole, the first time Rahm has lost in the opening round.

Matt Kuchar, at 44 the oldest player in the field, outlasted Viktor Hovland and won his 35th match, one short of the career tournament record held by Tiger Woods. Rory McIlroy had a shorter shaft in his driver and a new putter, and both worked just fine in his 3-and-1 victory over Scott Stallings.

Nothing was decided in the first of three rounds of group play. One player from each of the 16 groups will move on for the knockout stage on the weekend. But every point helps.



MIAMI OPEN:  The first major player in the Miami Open has fallen without even getting on the court.

World No. 1 and defending Miami Open champion Iga Swiatek of Poland announced she has withdrawn from the tournament with a rib injury.

Swiatek was scheduled to face Claire Liu (U.S.) in her opening round. Now, Liu, who defeated Katerina Siniakova (Czech Republic) on Tuesday in the first round, will face lucky loser Julia Grabher (Austria) in Thursday’s second round.

The tournament still has ATP World No. 1 Carlos Alcaraz, who will play his opening match in Friday’s day session.


RETIREMENT: Former Real Madrid and Arsenal midfielder Mesut Özil, who won the World Cup with Germany in 2014, retired from soccer at the age of 34.


Özil said injuries played a role in his decision.

“I’ve had the privilege to be a professional football player for almost 17 years now and I feel incredibly thankful for the opportunity,” Özil wrote on social media. “But in recent weeks and months, having also suffered some injuries, it’s become more and more clear that it’s time to leave the big stage of football.”

His immediate retirement brings an early end to his season with Turkish club Istanbul Basaksehir, where he made only seven appearances for the team.

MANCHESTER UNITED: Sheikh Jassim bin Hamad Al Thani has stepped up his attempt to buy Manchester United by stating his intention to make a second bid for the iconic soccer team.

The chairman of Qatar Islamic Bank has said he wants to return the club to the summit of the sport if he is successful in buying out current owners the Glazer family.

Both Sheikh Jassim and British billionaire Jim Ratcliffe submitted indicative offers last month.


Sheikh Jassim’s latest bid for an unconfirmed amount will be made to American merchant bank Raine, which is handling the potential sale.

A person with knowledge of the process confirmed Raine had been informed of Sheikh Jassim’s plans to submit a fresh bid. The person spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.

United is expected to become the the most expensive sports team in history, with the price estimated to reach up to $6 billion.


WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Defending champion Kaori Sakamoto took the lead after the women’s short program at Saitama, Japan.

Aiming to become the first Japanese skater to win back-to-back world titles, Sakamoto received 79.24 points at Saitama Super Arena for a routine that featured a double axel, a triple lutz and a triple flip, triple toeloop combination.

Russia’s typically dominant skating team has been excluded from the world championships for the second straight year because of the invasion of Ukraine. That ruled out Olympic champion Anna Shcherbakova and teammates Alexandra Trusova and Kamila Valieva from the women’s event.

Sakamoto is 5.62 points ahead of Lee Hae-in of South Korea going to Friday’s free skate. Mai Mihara of Japan was third with 73.46 points.

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