National sports briefs

Published 12:00 am Sunday, December 31, 2006

Associated Press

MINNEAPOLIS — Critics of college football’s bloated bowl system say it’s too easy to qualify for postseason play and only a handful of the games actually mean something.

Tell that to Glen Mason.

Minnesota fired Mason on Sunday, two days after the Gophers blew a

31-point third quarter lead against Texas Tech in the Insight Bowl and exactly one year after signing a four-year contract extension.

“If we had not lost the way we had lost, we probably wouldn’t be here today,” athletic director Joel Maturi said.

Mason was 64-57 in 10 years at Minnesota and led the Gophers to seven bowl games. But he was just 3-4 in those games, with his latest loss proving to be the backbreaker despite the lengthy contract extension.

The Gophers led the Red Raiders 38-7 in the third quarter on Friday before Tech orchestrated the biggest comeback in bowl history. The 44-41 loss dropped the Gophers to 6-7 for the season, the first time they have finished under .500 in five years.


NEW YORK — The New York Rangers not only found their offense against the illness-ravaged Washington Capitals, they also found a bit of a mean streak in a fight-filled, 4-1 victory on Saturday night. Snapping a season-long, seven-game losing streak, the Rangers came out hard in the first period and went out fighting in the third against a chippy Capitals team that has lost four in a row.

The NHL suspended Rangers forward Colton Orr for five games and Washington enforcer Donald Brashear for one.

Wild 4, Ducks 3

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored twice and Mark Parrish added the winner for Minnesota. Ducks forward Teemu Selanne, playing his 1,000th game, scored two goals and added an assist.