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Updates on Pac-12 basketball; NWSL expansion, draft; Pilot baseball; Winterhawks moves; NHL hockey

College basketball — The Oregon men are the latest Pac-12 basketball program forced to pause team activities because of COVID-19 protocols.

As a result, the Ducks Thursday game against Arizona State and a Saturday contest against Arizona have been postponed. Oregon is scheduled to host UCLA for a makeup game next Tuesday, Jan. 19, but that game is now in question.

An announcement from Oregon did not specify the nature of the reason for the pause, though multiple reports indicated at least one person within the program has tested positive for the coronavirus.

Oregon goes on pause as Oregon State prepares to return Thursday at home against Arizona (8 p.m., FS1). The Beavers did not play last week's games at Utah and Colorado because of COVID-19.

• After 29 days and six missed games, the Oregon State women are slated to return to action on Sunday at Arizona (1 p.m., Pac-12 Network). The Beavers (3-3) will not play at Arizona State on Friday because of COVID-19 protocols within the Sun Devils program.

The No. 10-ranked Oregon women visit No. 11-ranked Arizona on Thursday (4 p.m., ESPN), but will not play at Arizona State on Sunday.

NWSL expansion — The National Women's Soccer League plans to add a second expansion club in 2022, with Sacramento joining Angel City FC of Los Angeles. With Louisville entering the league this season, the NWSL will have 12 teams in 2022: four on the West Coast.

The NWSL Draft takes place Wednesday, starting at 4 p.m. and can be viewed on the league's Twitch.com channel. The Portland Thorns enter the draft holding picks 7, 12, 22, 32 and 37.

Winterhawks send players to USHL — Because of uncertainty surrounding when the Western Hockey League season will begin, the Portland Winterhawks have released Jack O'Brien, James Stefan, Clay Hanus, and Cross Hanas to the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League. All four will return to Portland at the conclusion of the 2020-21 hockey season.

"With the uncertainty of our start date due to restrictions in Oregon and Washington, we felt the opportunity for these four American players to play significant games could not be passed up," Winterhawks VP/GM/coach Mike Johnston said in a statement.

The WHL last week announced intentions to play a 24-game season followed by playoffs, but did not announce potential starting dates.

Pilots baseball recruits — University of Portland baseball coach Geoff Loomis announced five area players have committed to the Pilots.

Gavin Kleier and Spencer Scott out of Grant High, Kyle Sullivan of West Linn, Harrison Howell from Hood River Valley and Riley McCarthy from Mountain View High in Vancouver will join the program in the fall.

Kleier is a left-handed pitcher, Scott is shortstop, Sullivan a right-handed pitcher, Howell is a right-handed pitcher/outfielder and McCarthy a catcher.

NHL season starts Wednesday — The National Hockey League is scheduled to begin a 56-game regular season on Wednesday, Jan. 13.

In the runup to the season, 26 former and current Portland Winterhawks were invited to training camps. Here's the list:

Sven Baertschi, Vancouver Canucks; Kieffer Bellows, New York Islanders; Oliver Bjorkstrand, Columbus Blue Jackets; Joachim Blichfeld, San Jose Sharks; Braydon Coburn, Ottawa Senators; Dennis Cholowski, Detroit Red Wings; Chase De Leo, Anaheim Ducks; Matt Dumba, Minnesota Wild; Cody Glass, Vegas Golden Knights; Adin Hill, Arizona Coyotes; Joel Hofer, St. Louis Blues; Henri Jokiharju, Buffalo Sabres; Seth Jarvis, Carolina Hurricanes; Ryan Johansen, Nashville Predators; Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets; Caleb Jones, Edmonton Oilers; Cole Kehler, Winnipeg Jets; John Ludvig, Florida Panthers; Skyler McKenzie, Winnipeg Jets; Nino Niederreiter, Carolina Hurricanes; Nic Petan, Toronto Maple Leafs; Derrick Pouliot, Philadelphia Flyers; Luca Sbisa, Winnipeg Jets; Colton Sceviour, Pittsburgh Penguins; Dominic Turgeon, Detroit Red Wings; and Tyler Wotherspoon, Philadelphia Flyers.

• The NHL reconfigured its divisions — and sold naming rights to each of them — as part of adjusting to COVID-19.

Teams will only play against division rivals to limit travel and Canadian teams are grouped together in the Scotia NHL North Division.

The other divisions are: Honda NHL West Division (Anaheim, Arizona, Colorado, Los Angeles, Minnesota, San Jose, St. Louis, Vegas), Discover NHL Central Division (Carolina, Chicago, Columbus, Dallas, Detroit, Florida, Nashville, Tampa Bay) and the MassMutual East Division (Boston, Buffalo, New Jersey, NY Islanders, NY Rangers, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Washington).

• Playoff format — The top four teams in each division make the playoffs, with the first two rounds being within each division. The four teams that emerge from division playoffs will meet in the semifinals. The regular season is scheduled to end on May 8.


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