Moore’s Morning Sports Briefing for Monday, April 1

Calgary Flames goaltender Mike Smith (41) celebrates 5-3 win against the San Jose Sharks with teammates in the third period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Sunday, March 31, 2019. (AP Photo/Josie Lepe). AP Photo/Josie Lepe

Gooooooooodddddd Morning

And breathe easy.  It’s a “prank free” April Fool’s Day edition.

The Calgary Flames can put it on cruise control for this final week of the season – after a 5-3 win over San Jose last night wrapped up both the Pacific Division and Western Conference titles. A three-goal outburst in a 75 second span late in the first period carried the Flames to their first place finish since 2006, when they were playing in the Northwest Division. So now it’s just a matter of finding out whether it will be former Northwest rival Colorado, or Arizona or Minnesota who they’ll meet in round one of the playoffs next week.

The Coyotes stayed within a point of the Avalanche with a 4-0 win over Minnesota as Darcy Kuemper made 39 saves. That loss leaves the Wild with no margin for error over their final three games – starting tomorrow night against the Jets. Winnipeg continues a six games in 10 days stretch to close out the schedule by playing in Chicago tonight. Despite dropping three in a row at home, Patrik Laine shrugged off the notion he and his team mates are feeling any pressure in trying to hold on to top spot in the Central.

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Columbus seems to have found that extra gear down the stretch. The Blue Jackets blanking Buffalo 4-0 for their fifth straight win to overtake Carolina for the No. 1 wild card in the East. The Hurricanes stayed just a point ahead of Montreal with a 3-1 loss in Pittsburgh. Detroit also extended their win streak to five games by doubling Boston 6-3, thanks to a first career hat trick from Anthony Mantha.

The demise of the Canadian Women’s Hockey League just might result in a much talked about single entity for women’s pro hockey. That has been the complaint ever since the National Women’s Hockey League started up four years ago. And NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly reiterated yesterday, the NHL will not even consider getting involved until there is no professional women’s league in operation.

The Assiniboine Community College Cougars are the champions of the Women’s American Collegiate Hockey Association after a 1-0 win over Minot State in yesterday’s final near Dallas. Simone Turner-Cummer of Carman scored the National title clinching goal and was named the Tournament MVP.

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Transcona showed no signs of wear and tear from a Game 7, as they opened their Manitoba Major Junior League semifinal with a 6-0 win at St. James. And Pembina Valley went up two games to none on Stonewall by edging the Jets 4-3.

Kevin Koe has picked up at the World Men’s Curling Final in Lethbridge- right where he left off in going 13-0 at the Brier in Brandon. The Canadian Champs improving to 4-0 with an 8-6 decision last night over winless China. And after playing in four of the first five draws, the host country will have a reduced schedule over the next couple of days — including a 2 p.m. matinee tilt versus Norway.

After surviving a pair of close calls – the luck ran out for No.1 Duke, as Canada’s R.J. Barrett missed a free throw with 5 seconds remaining that proved costly in a 68-67 loss to Michigan State that cost the Blue Devils a trip to the final four. North Carolina and Gonzaga State also went down this weekend- leaving Virginia the lone No.1 seed for next Saturday in Minneapolis where they will play Auburn. The Spartans and Texas Tech will square off for the other berth in the Final.

Phillies fans were already striking up the chant of “MVP- MVP” when Bryce Harper homered for the second straight game, as Philadelphia completed a season opening sweep of Atlanta with a 5-1 win. And Milwaukee’s Christian Yelich – the reigning National League Most Valuable player – answered Harper’s performance by tying a major league record with a dinger in each of his first 4 games to start the season in leading the Brewers to a 5-4 win over St. Louis.

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The season did not get off to nearly as good a start for AL East heavyweights Boston and the Yankees, who lost their opening series to Seattle and Baltimore respectively. The Red Sox have given their fan base something to cheer about though. Xander Boegaerts and the defending World Series champs have reportedly agreed to a 132 million dollar deal that will keep the star shortstop in Boston through the 2025 season.

The Jays had to settle for a split against Detroit — losing 4-3 in 11 innings to the Tigers.

And Kevin Kisner defeated fellow American Matt Kuchar 3 and 2 to win the Dell Match Play Championship in Austin, Texas.

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