The ECHL announced that the Maine Mariners will play in the North Division of the Eastern Conference starting in the 2018-19 season, renewing a rivalry with the Manchester Monarchs from when both had AHL teams.

The Mariners are preparing for their first season after the Alaska Aces franchise was purchased and moved to Portland. The sale and relocation was approved last June and the team name was announced in September. In February, Riley Armstrong was hired as coach.

The breakdown of conference and divisional alignment:

Eastern Conference

North Division: Adirondack Thunder, Brampton Beast, Maine Mariners, Manchester Monarchs, Reading Royals, St. John’s, Worcester Railers


South: Atlanta Gladiators, Florida Everblades, Greenville Swamp Rabbits, Jacksonville Icemen, Norfolk Admirals, Orlando Solar Bears, South Carolina Stingrays.

Western Conference

Central: Cincinnati Cyclones, Fort Wayne Komets, Indy Fuel, Kalamazoo Wings, Toledo Walleye, Wheeling Nailers

Mountain: Allen Americans, Idaho Steelheads, Kansas City Mavericks, Rapid City Rush, Tulsa Oilers, Utah Grizzlies, Wichita Thunder

The league approved the expansion membership for St. John’s, Newfoundland, to begin play in the 2018-19 season, as well as the withdrawal of the Quad City Mallards.



WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS: Italy’s home favorite Carolina Kostner skated a perfectly executed and evocative program to take a surprise lead over Olympic champion Alina Zagitova of Russia in the short program at Assago, Italy.

A former world champion coming off a fifth-place finish at the PyeongChang Olympics just a month ago, Kostner’s performance demonstrated technical prowess and maturity in balletic moves that held the crowd. She was rewarded bonus points for her jumps, pushing her technical score uncharacteristically above her presentation marks for a personal best of 80.27.

Zagitova was shaky from the start of her elements. Holding the jumps for the end of the program, the Russian bobbled slightly on the triple lutz, triple loop combination for a slight penalty. She hit the triple flip with both arms up in the air, a trademark move, and a double axel with her arms tight for a total score of 79.51, well below her Olympic world record of 82.92.


MATCH PLAY: Sergio Garcia birdied the 18th hole and outlasted Shubhankar Sharma of India in the opening session at Austin, Texas.

Eight matches went the distance at Austin Country Club, and all but one went at least 15 holes on a day of big rallies and tight outcomes. Jon Rahm overcame a back-nine deficit to earn a halve against Keegan Bradley. Paul Casey won his match on the 18th hole when Russell Henley’s tee shot caromed off a tree and went into a creek.


The round robin play resumes Thursday.


DAVIS CUP: Jack Sock, Sam Querrey, John Isner, Ryan Harrison and Steve Johnson have been picked for the U.S. Davis Cup team that will face Belgium in the quarterfinals next month in Nashville, Tennessee.

Belgium’s team hasn’t been made public yet.

The matches will be played on a hard court at Belmont University from April 6-8.

MIAMI OPEN: Serena Williams lost in the first round, still rusty in her return from pregnancy and unable to overcome a tough draw against Naomi Osaka, who won 6-3, 6-2, at Key Biscayne, Florida.


INDYCAR: IndyCar signed a new media rights package with NBC Sports Group that will dramatically increase its exposure next season and move the Indianapolis 500 to a different network for the first time since 1965.

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