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Hockey

RiverHawks fall out of first place

In Knoxville, Tenn., the Augusta RiverHawks lost their third game in a row and dropped out of first place in the SPHL after falling to the Knoxville Ice Bears 5-1 on Thursday night.

Knoxville (19-5-0) took over first place in the league over Augusta (18-6-1).

The victory kept the Ice Bears unbeaten at home at 13-0. They are also 4-0 against Augusta this season.

Neil Graham gave Augusta a 1-0 lead in the first period, but it didn’t last long.

The Ice Bears followed with two goals in the period, one in the second period and two more in the third period.

Augusta goalie Peter Skoggard had 31 saves in the loss.

It was the first of three consecutive games for Augusta, which is at home tonight against Fayetteville and home vs. Columbus on Saturday.

• In Raleigh, N.C., Eric Staal scored a power-play goal 3:09 into overtime to lift the Carolina Hurricanes to a 4-3 comeback win over the Toronto Maple Leafs.

• In Tampa, Fla., Vincent Lecavalier had a tiebreaking goal midway through the third period, Steven Stamkos got his 23rd of the season, and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Montreal Canadiens 4-3.

• In Pittsburgh, Jaromir Jagr and Max Talbot both scored in their return to Pittsburgh, leading the Philadelphia Flyers to a 4-2 win over the Penguins.

• In Uniondale, N.Y., John Tavares scored a goal and added an assist, and Evgeni Nabokov made 29 saves to lead the New York Islanders to a 3-1 win over the Calgary Flames.

Tennis

Djokovic takes exhibition win

In Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, top-ranked Novak Djokovic began his preparations for the 2012 season with a 6-2, 4-6, 6-2 win over No. 16 Gael Monfils at the World Tennis Championship exhibition event.

Djokovic is coming off three Grand Slam wins during a 70-6 season. The 24-year-old Serb ended his best season with two tired losses at the ATP World Tour Finals in November.

Djokovic will face Roger Federer in the semifinalstoday, and Rafael Nadal will meet fellow Spaniard David Ferrer.

Ferrer earlier beat Jo Wilfried Tsonga of France 2-6, 7-6 (5), 6-2 in the six-man field of the $250,000 winner-takes-all exhibition.

Nadal plans to take several weeks off after the Australian Open to recover from a nagging shoulder injury.

The second-ranked Nadal said Thursday the injury surfaced before the ATP World Tour Finals in November and that he was still “not 100 percent.”

He only decided three days ago to defend his title at the World Tennis Championships, a two-day exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi.

College Basketball

Game canceled by Benedictine

Benedictine College has canceled its men’s basketball game today at home in Atchison, Kan., because of a player’s death.

Reginald Demps Jr., a 20-year-old sophomore guard, died Dec. 21 in a traffic accident as he was driving to Kansas City International Airport. He was headed to Aurora, Colo., for the holidays.

His funeral is scheduled for Saturday in Orlando, Fla.

The university announced on its Web site that the team decided it would be best not to play the game against Midland University the night before the funeral. The team held a private memorial on Monday.

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