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US edges Canada 3-2 in women’s hockey worlds in Finland

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ESPOO, Finland (AP) Annie Pankowski scored the winning goal on a second-period power play Saturday, leading the United States to a 3-2 victory over Canada at the women’s world hockey championships.

Hilary Knight and Kendall Coyne Schofield also scored for the Americans while goalie made Alex Rigsby made 31 saves. Pankowksi put a slap shot over Maschmeyer’s right shoulder at 14:03 of the second period for a power-play goal.

“We always want to come and kind of take the game to them and play our game,” Pankowski said. “They also make it hard because they have so much skill and so much speed.”

Canada had a power play with 2 + minutes to play, but it was negated by Natalie Spooner’s hooking penalty with a minute remaining.

The U.S. has six points and is alone in first in Group A. Canada dropped into a tie with Finland and Russia, all with three points apiece. Switzerland is winless in two games.

Brianne Jenner had goal and an assist in her 100th career game for Canada. Sarah Nurse also scored and Brigette Lacquette assisted on two goals. Goalie Emerance Maschmeyer turned away 27 shots.

The Canadians scored both goals on power plays but went 2-for-7 overall. The U.S. was 1-for-6.

“I think special teams wins hockey games,” Nurse said. “And I think on our power play specifically, we had a lot of good chances and we did capitalize on it. We’d like to capitalize on a couple more.”

In other games, Finland blanked Russia 4-0; the Czech Republic topped Sweden 5-3; and Germany edged Japan 3-2. The Czechs moved into first in Group B with six points

All Group A countries and the top three Group B countries will play quarterfinals April 11. The semifinals are April 13 followed by medal games April 14.

David Boudia wins U.S. title, qualifies for worlds after break from diving

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David Boudia, after a year away from diving, two more children, a concussion and a goodbye to the platform, is back in familiar territory. He’s on the U.S. team for the world championships.

Boudia, a 30-year-old, four-time Olympic medalist, outscored fellow Rio Olympian Michael Hixon to win the springboard at the U.S. Championships on Saturday.

The top two per individual event by cumulative score at nationals go to July’s worlds in South Korea. Boudia was in third place going into the finals but had the top Saturday score by 23.35 to leap onto the team with Hixon.

“It’s relieving, but in my mind, as an athlete, there’s a lot of work to be done before 2020,” Boudia said on NBCSN. “I have to learn new dives if I want to contend with the best in the world.”

Later Saturday, Rio Olympian Amy Cozad Magaña and Delaney Schnell made the world team in the women’s platform, with Schnell helping knock out Rio Olympian Jessica Parratto. Competition concludes Sunday with the women’s springboard and men’s platform.

Boudia, whose 72 career Olympic dives all came off the platform, switched to the more forgiving springboard after a February 2018 concussion.

He considered retiring after a third Olympics in Rio, where he earned synchro silver and individual bronze after an individual gold at London 2012. He even began a real-estate job in Indiana. But he announced a diving comeback in September 2017, saying he didn’t want to have any “what ifs” later in life.

Boudia then beat Hixon at the 2018 Winter Trials, proving he could master the new event. The other Rio Olympian on the springboard, Kristian Ipsen, has retired.

Boudia has competed at every Olympics and world championships since 2005, except in 2017 of course, and is the only U.S. diver to earn a medal in an individual Olympic event at either meet since 2009.

“I don’t think I have been that nervous since 2005,” Boudia said, according to TeamUSA.org. “Hix and I are going to have a lot of training to do if we want to be even close to cracking that top five.”

Cozad Magaña, 28, placed seventh in synchro at the Rio Olympics and plans to retire after 2020. Schnell, 20, was sixth individually at the 2016 Olympic Trials and second at the 2017 world trials before placing 27th at her world debut two years ago.

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U.S. men’s rugby team qualifies for Tokyo Olympics

U.S. men's rugby sevens team
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The U.S. became the first men’s rugby team to qualify for the Tokyo Olympics, clinching its spot Saturday during penultimate leg of this season’s World Series.

The Americans, ranked No. 1 in the world, mathematically secured a place in the top four of the World Series final standings by advancing out of pool play in London. The knockout rounds are Sunday, but a top-eight finish was all that was necessary for Olympic qualification.

Now the U.S. can focus on a goal it didn’t have at the start of the year: winning the nation’s first World Series season title. It entered London with a slim, three-point lead over Olympic champion Fiji, one that would be erased if Fiji and the U.S. advance to Sunday’s final and Fiji wins.

Regardless, the season champion will be decided at the 10th and final World Series stop in Paris next weekend.

The Americans held onto the standings lead despite being without two stars — two-time World Player of the Year Perry Baker and Danny Barrett — the last three World Series stops. Baker and Barrett returned from injuries for the London leg.

Four years ago, the U.S. needed to go to a continental qualifier to earn in its place in Rio. Rugby sevens made its Olympic debut in 2016, 92 years after the traditional 15-a-side rugby last appeared at the Games. The Americans ended up ninth in Brazil, missing the quarterfinals on a tiebreaker.

World powers Fiji, New Zealand and South Africa are in position to join the U.S. as Olympic qualifiers through the World Series.

Seven more nations will qualify via continental tournaments later this year and a last-chance event in June 2020. Japan received an automatic spot as host nation.

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