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Sports in brief: Matthews hat trick leads U.S. to world junior hockey semis

hockey

U.s. makes world jr. semis

HELSINKI — Auston Matthews had a hat trick to lead the United States to a 7-0 victory over the Czech Republic on Saturday in the quarterfinals of the world junior championship.

"Everybody on the ice helped me. My linemates played unbelievably," said Matthews, 18, who plays professionally in Switzerland and is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NHL draft in June. (See Tom Jones' 10 athletes to watch in 2016, 1C)

The United States faces Russia in the semifinals Monday, and Finland faces Sweden. Russia beat Denmark 4-3 in overtime, Finland edged defending champion Canada 6-5, and Sweden beat Slovakia 6-0.

Nick Schmaltz, Christian Dvorak, Scott Eansor and Alex DeBrincat also scored for the Americans, and Alex Nedeljkovic made 28 saves for his first shutout of the tournament. Schmaltz plays for North Dakota, Dvorak for London in the Ontario junior league, Eansor for Seattle in the Western junior league, DeBrincat for Erie in the Ontario League, and Nedeljkovic for Niagara in the Ontario League.

"Couldn't ask for a better game," Nedeljkovic said.

soccer

For once, a typical EPL day

Normality was restored in the most unpredictable of Premier League seasons as Arsenal, Manchester City and Manchester United won to kick off 2016, with two of English football's biggest stars grabbing winners after lean spells.

But victory didn't come easily for the three heavyweights as the hectic holiday schedule closed.

Host Arsenal dispensed with its typically silky football and toughed out a 1-0 win over Newcastle, through a goal from defender Laurent Koscielny, to move into first, two points ahead of Leicester.

Manchester City scored twice in the final eight minutes in coming from behind to beat Watford 2-1 for its first road win since September. Sergio Aguero, last season's top scorer and the most lethal striker in the division, scored the winner with his first goal since Nov. 21.

That was the date Man United last won in the league before a 2-1 win over visiting Swansea, sealed by a moment of brilliance by Wayne Rooney. The England captain flicked in a deft finish for his first United goal in two months, which put him second outright in the all-time scoring lists at United (238) and in the league (188).

"It is amazing," United manager Louis van Gaal said, "and that at the age of 30."

Leicester failed to keep pace with Arsenal after being held to a 0-0 tie at home by 10-man Bournemouth and is now without a win in three games, fulfilling many pundits' predictions that its surprisingly strong start to the season wouldn't last. Riyad Mahrez missed a penalty for Leicester, which is a point ahead of Man City.

United — owned by the Glazer family, which owns the Bucs — stayed in fifth place, two points behind Tottenham, which visits Everton today.

et cetera

Horses: Flexibility dominated the $200,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct, kicking off the New York road for 3-year-olds heading to the Triple Crown. Flexibility earned 10 qualifying points toward a starting berth in the Kentucky Derby. The colt trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. rallied four wide to earn his second win in four starts.

Tennis: The leadup tournaments to Australian Open begin today with the Brisbane International, which includes defending champions Roger Federer and Maria Sharapova. The the Australian Open starts Jan. 18.

Times wires

Sports in brief: Matthews hat trick leads U.S. to world junior hockey semis 01/02/16 [Last modified: Saturday, January 2, 2016 9:30pm]
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