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Feb. 20, 2013 at 5:10 PM
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Ruff out as Sabres' coach

BUFFALO, N.Y., Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Lindy Ruff, who had been the longest-tenured head coach in the National Hockey League, has been fired, the team announced Wednesday.

Ruff, 53, had been coach of the Sabres since 1997, leading the team to eight post-season appearances and one Stanley Cup final appearances -- in 1999, when they lost to the Dallas Stars in six games.

His dismissal was disclosed by General Manager Darcy Regier in a post on the team's Twitter account, The Buffalo News reported.

"Darcy Regier announced this afternoon that Lindy Ruff has been relieved of his duties as head coach of the Buffalo Sabres. More to follow," the tweet stated.

The newspaper said the team did not indicate who would succeed Ruff.

Buffalo is in last place in the Northeast Division with a 6-10-1 record.

The Sabres went 556-442 with 78 ties and 83 overtime losses under Ruff, finishing third in the Northeast Division the past two seasons after winning it in 2009-10.

Snow halts play at WGC match play

MARANA, Ariz., Feb. 20 (UPI) -- Play at the World Golf Championship-Accenture Match Play was suspended Wednesday because of snow in southern Arizona.

All but 10 of the first-day schedule matches had gotten under way but none were complete when play was halted. Course officials said there was about an inch of snow in the ground at the Golf Club at Dove Mountain in Marana, Ariz., just northwest of Tucson.

A total of 21 of the scheduled 32 matches had played at least one hole. However, none of the top four seeds -- Rory McIlroy, Tiger Woods, Luke Donald and Louis Oosthuizen -- had begun their matches before play was called.

Play is to resume Thursday but no start time was announced.

In the first match off Thursday, Sergio Garcia was due to putt on the 16th green with a chance to close out Thongchai Jaidee. Garcia, 2-up in the match, has a 12-foot putt while Jaidee is 96 feet from the pin.

Dennard guilty of assaulting policeman

LINCOLN, Neb., Feb. 20 (UPI) -- New England Patriots cornerback Alfonzo Dennard was found guilty in Lincoln, Neb., Wednesday of assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest.

Dennard, 23, was acquitted on a charge of assaulting a college student, the Lincoln Journal Star reported. He showed no emotion as the verdicts were read, the newspaper said.

The jury reached its decision after deliberating about 6 hours after a weeklong trial.

"Obviously we're disappointed with the verdict on the first count," his attorney, Terry Dougherty, said outside the courtroom afterward.

Dennard faces up to six years in prison when he is sentenced April 11, though he could be placed on probation or receive a much shorter jail term.

Dennard had bumped into University of Nebraska-Lincoln student Ben Samani as bars closed April 21. Samani said Dennard punched him in the chest, but it didn't injure him.

Lincoln police officer Ben Kopsa said Dennard resisted when he tried to arrest him after seeing him punch Samani.

Dennard said he didn't realize Kopsa was an officer because he came from behind and reacted by shoving with his elbow to try to get away. He admitted resisting when Kopsa said he was under arrest.

Dennard denied the officer's contention the football player hit him in the jaw as he tried to put on the handcuffs.

Dennard had 35 tackles and three interceptions while starting seven of the 10 regular-season games he played in last season. He also appeared in New England's two playoff games.

Serena Williams out with back injury

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Feb. 20 (UPI) -- World No. 1 Serena Williams, citing a lower back injury, withdrew Wednesday from the WTA's Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships.

Williams, as the No. 2 seed, had a first-round bye but pulled out of the tournament before play began Wednesday. That gave Marion Bartoli a walkover into the quarterfinals.

Victoria Azarenka, whom Williams replaced last Monday as the No. 1-ranked player, said a foot injury forced her to leave the Dubai tournament.

That leaves defending champion Agnieszka Radwanska as the highest seed in the tournament. She defeated Yulia Putintseva 7-5, 6-3 in her second-round match by going 6-for-6 in break-point opportunities.

Roberta Vinci ousted fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber 7-5, 6-1 with four breaks in a seesaw first set and two more in the second.

No. 8-seeded Caroline Wozniacki blitzed Zheng Jie 6-0, 6-1 in 54 minutes, losing only eight points in seven games serving. Nadia Petrova also had a lopsided win, beating Carla Suarez Navarro 6-1, 6-0 without facing a break point. Suarez Navarro had taken Azarenka's spot in the draw.

No. 5-seeded Sara Errani defeated Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-4, sixth-seeded Petra Kvitova edged Ana Ivanovic 7-5, 7-6 (7-1) and No. 7-seeded Samantha Stosur beat Hsieh Su-Wei 6-4, 6-0.

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