Russia Hockey

Russia trounces U.S. in hockey rematch at World Championships (video)

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The rosters, the venue and the stage were very different. So was the result.

Unlike in Sochi, Russia had no problem dispatching the U.S. men’s hockey team at the World Championships, crushing the Americans 6-1 in a group-play game in Minsk, Belarus, on Monday.

Alex Ovechkin scored in the first period and added two second-period assists. Viktor Tikhonov, the grandson of the legendary Soviet Union coach, tallied two in a four-goal second period. U.S. goalie Tim Thomas, the only American player with Olympic experience, was pulled after the Russians went up 5-1 in the second.

Russia cruised despite being outshot 39-20.

Russia has now rolled over the U.S., Finland and Switzerland in group play. The U.S. beat Switzerland and Belarus before running into the Russians. Each nation has four more group-play games left before the playoff round, which takes the four best teams from each of the two groups.

The U.S. is coming off a fourth-place finish at the Sochi Olympics, where it memorably beat Russia in group play thanks to T.J. Oshie‘s shootout heroics. Russia disappointed, was eliminated in the quarterfinals and changed national team coaches.

The U.S. roster in Minsk, with zero 2014 Olympians, is not nearly as star-studded as it was in Sochi with the NHL playoffs still going on. Its top skaters include Predators defenseman Seth Jones and Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader, the latter scoring the lone U.S. goal Monday.

The Russian team with many players from the KHL, whose season is finished, also has two NHL goalies, including Sochi Olympian Sergei Bobrovsky. But it was KHL goalie Andrei Vasilevski, 19, who stymied a young U.S. team (average age about 24) with 37 saves.

The U.S. beat Russia 8-3 in last year’s World Championships quarterfinals en route to bronze.

Video: Putin scores 6 goals in hockey game in Sochi

What to watch at Drake Relays, Penn Relays

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Olympic gold medalists ramp up their track and field seasons at the Penn Relays and Drake Relays, live on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold this weekend.

Athletes are working toward the U.S. Championships in June and the world championships in August.

First, the historic Penn Relays will air on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold on Friday (5:30-6:30 p.m. ET) and Saturday (12:30-3 p.m. ET).

USA vs. The World in men’s and women’s 4x100m, 4x400m and sprint medley relays will air live on Saturday from Franklin Field in Philadelphia. A full schedule is here.

The U.S. teams are led by Olympic relay champions English Gardner and Natasha Hastings. The full roster is here.

Rio Olympic rematches highlight the individual-event fields at the Drake Relays in Des Moines on NBCSN and NBC Sports Gold from 3-5 p.m ET on Saturday. A full schedule is here.

Perhaps no field is deeper than the 100m hurdles. World-record holder Keni Harrison takes on Rio silver and bronze medalists Kristi Castlin and Nia Ali, plus 2008 Olympic champion Dawn Harper-Nelson.

The 110m hurdles contingent is strong as well. It features the last two Olympic champions, Jamaican Omar McLeod and American Aries Merritt, plus 2013 World champion David Oliver.

Grenada’s Kirani James and American LaShawn Merritt, who earned silver and bronze in Rio, go head-to-head again in the 400m at Drake.

The men’s 1500m is headlined by Rio Olympic 800m bronze medalist Clayton Murphy and London Olympic 1500m silver medalist Leo Manzano.

Rio bronze medalist Jenny Simpson races individually for the first time this year in the women’s 1500m.

That field also includes New Zealand’s Nikki Hamblin, who gained fame of her own in Rio. Hamblin and American Abbey D’Agostino fell in an Olympic 5000m heat and helped each other make it to the finish line. Both were praised for their sportsmanship.

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IOC president unsure whether esports should be considered sport

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Esports are gaining momentum in the international sports movement, but they are not close to becoming an Olympic sport.

“We are not yet 100 percent clear whether esports is really sport, with regard to physical activity and what it needs to be considered sport,” IOC president Thomas Bach said Tuesday, according to insidethegames. “We do not see an organization or a structure that will give us confidence, or guarantee, that in this area the Olympic rules and values of sport are respected and in place, and that the implementation of these rules are monitored and secured.”

The first clear step (of many) to become an Olympic sport is for the IOC to recognize the sport’s international governing body.

Esports will be added as a medal sport to the Asian Games in 2022, and has been praised by LA 2024 Olympic bid chairman Casey Wasserman, but it is not yet IOC recognized.

“We are watching it, we see the differences, we see the lack of organisation,” Bach said, according to the report. “But we also see the high engagement of youth in esports. Therefore, we have to carefully consider how this could be consolidated.”

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