Weekend Sports in Brief
HUMBOLDT, Saskatchewan (AP) The people of this small town grieved at their hockey arena Sunday, laying flowers and jerseys in a makeshift memorial at the entrance and later gathering inside to mourn the deaths of 15 people when a semi-trailer slammed into the bus carrying the local youth hockey team.
The 14 others on the bus were injured, some critically, in Friday night’s collision, which has Canada, its national sport and the hockey-obsessed town of Humboldt reeling. Among the dead are Broncos head coach Darcy Haugan, team captain Logan Schatz and radio announcer Tyler Bieber.
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau visited the injured at the hospital Sunday and then attended the vigil held in the town’s arena Sunday night. Trudeau sat among the crowd with his 11-year-old son, Xavier, a hockey player
Team President Kevin Garinger choked back tears as he read out the names of the 15 dead. People embraced each other, crying. Boxes of Kleenex were passed down rows.
Behind them, flowers ringed the team logo at center ice. In front of them, there were pictures of the dead and injured.
NEW YORK (AP) – The New York Rangers fired coach Alain Vigneault hours after they missed the playoffs for the first time since 2010.
General manager Jeff Gorton announced the firing Saturday night, a full day before the end of the NHL regular season but long after New York’s playoff hopes were gone.
The Rangers will begin searching for his replacement immediately.
The Rangers made the playoffs in four of Vigneault’s five seasons as coach, including a 2014 trip to the Stanley Cup Final. They went 226-147-37 in the regular season under Vigneault, who is third in regular-season and playoff wins in franchise history.
New York’s front office decided in the middle of this season to go young, sell at the trade deadline and begin a rebuilding process in the hopes of becoming a title contender again. Vigneault repeatedly said he believed the Rangers would have made the playoffs if they didn’t go in that direction.
AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) – Patrick Reed won his first major championship with a thrilling one-shot victory over Rickie Fowler at the Masters.
Reed pulled ahead of Jordan Spieth with an 8-foot birdie putt at the 14th hole Sunday, saved par with a 6-foot putt at No. 17 and pulled off a testy two-putt at the final hole to win with a 1-under 71. His total was a 15-under 273.
Fowler made quite a run at his first major title, making six birdies over the final 11 holes for a closing 67.
It wasn’t quite enough.
Spieth began the day nine shots behind and turned in one of the greatest final rounds in Masters history with an 8-over 64. But a disappointing bogey at the last hole, when his tee shot struck a limb, ended his hopes of improbably catching Reed.
Rory McIlroy went into the round three shots off the lead, in good position to make a run at the career Grand Slam. But he stumbled to a 74 and finished six shots behind Reed.
ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) – Shohei Ohtani retired the Oakland Athletics’ first 19 batters and yielded one hit over seven shutout innings in his home pitching debut, leading the Los Angeles Angels to a 6-1 victory Sunday.
Marcus Semien’s clean one-out single to left broke up Ohtani’s bid for a perfect game, and the two-way Japanese sensation finished the inning for a bravura performance with 12 strikeouts.
Ohtani (2-0) struck out the side twice during the latest feat in a series of early-season superlatives by the 23-year-old Japanese prodigy.
He won his pitching debut in Oakland last weekend with six strong innings. He homered in three consecutive games in Anaheim between starts in his attempt to become the first regular two-way player in decades.
He was sharp from the beginning on a gorgeous day in Orange County, striking out the side in the first inning on 15 pitches while mixing 99 mph heat with 80 mph splitters and precipitous curveballs.
Ohtani struck out the side again in the fifth inning, and he fanned every Oakland batter except Jonathan Lucroy at least once.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Hornets owner Michael Jordan has turned to a fellow former North Carolina Tar Heel with a strong NBA track record to help turn around his struggling franchise.
Charlotte hired Mitch Kupchak as president of basketball operations and general manager Sunday, giving him full control of day-to-day operations. Jordan called Kupchak a ”proven winner” in a statement.
As a player and executive, Kupchak has been a part of 10 NBA championship teams. He won three as a player – one with the Washington Wizards and two with in Los Angeles Lakers – and seven as a Lakers executive.
The 63-year-old Kupchak replaces Rich Cho, who was fired earlier this season. Charlotte has failed to make the playoffs in three of its last four seasons.
One of Kupchak’s first decisions will be whether or not to bring back coach Steve Clifford, whose contract expires after the 2019 season.
Kupchak brings more than 30 years of NBA front office experience to Charlotte, including 17 seasons as a general manager with the Lakers.