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Jan 8, 2013 7:49pm
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TORONTO —Three players from the Cuban mens soccer team who vanished just
before a World Cup qualifying match against Canada have defected, according to
FIFA, the governing body of international soccer. Brett Favre Falcons Jersey . The
Switzerland-based organization confirmed in an email that the players have been
missing since Thursday, one day before the scheduled game in Toronto. The FIFA
official would not release any further details, referring all questions to Cuban
officials. The disappearance of the players left Cuban coach Alexander Gonzalez
with only 11 players on his team—and no subs—for the qualifier. Canada,
ranked 61st in the world, defeated Cuba 3-0 in the match. He told reporters on
Friday that a missing fourth player had fallen ill and couldnt make the game.
Gonzalez lamented the departures of the other three. “As with any Cuban sport
team that travels around the world, theyre all chasing the American dream,” he
said. “And its difficult to try to keep the team together … Obviously its a
difficult situation for the team and its tough for me to talk about it.” A
spokesman for the U.S. Customs and Border Protection would not confirm reports
on social media that the players tried to cross into the United States at the
Niagara Falls border point Thursday. Tom Rusert cited privacy concerns as a
reason why he couldnt give out any information. He added that no arrests were
made in relation to the case. Antonella DiGirolamo with the Canada Border
Services Agency referred all inquiries to the Americans. Its unclear whether the
missing players were in the United States or in Canada. Meanwhile, Ben Spencer,
a spokesman for the Confederation of North, Central American and Caribbean
Association Football (CONCACAF) said the organization will also not be
commenting on this incident. He said he believed the rest of the Cuban team was
either en route or have returned home Saturday. This isnt the first time Cuban
soccer players have attempted to flee to the United States while in Canada. Last
January, two players with the womens team defected following a CONCACAF match
against Canada in Vancouver. —With files from Neil Davidson, Canadian Press Limited Tony Gonzalez Jersey . —Ricky
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. Cody Allen, another rookie, allowed a tiebreaking, two-run homer to
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and former champion and four-time runner-up Roger Federer were among Sundays
fourth-round winners at the French Open.NEW YORK —John Tortorella stood out
again at a playoff news conference. Only this time it was because of his
feistiness toward the New Jersey Devils and not for his brevity and
contentiousness with the media. The New York coach defended Rangers forward
Brandon Prust, who was given a one-game suspension Sunday because of an elbow to
the head of New Jersey defenceman Anton Volchenkov, and accused the Devils of
embellishing to draw penalties in the Eastern Conference finals. “We tell our
players, Dont stay down on the ice. Get up,” Tortorella said Sunday. “Ill leave
it at that. If we want to start discussing officials with the media, I have a
long list here.” He then began to air it. Tortorella said the Devils set picks
during power plays to set up shots for Ilya Kovalchuk and prevent the Rangers
from getting into position to block them. He added that forward Dainius Zubrus
elbowed New York defenceman Anton Stralman on Saturday, and said top New Jersey
forward Zach Parise launched himself into another defenceman, Michael Del Zotto.
Neither of those players, nor Prust, was penalized for their hits during the
Rangers 3-0 win that gave New York a 2-1 lead in the East finals. Kovalchuk
scored a power-play goal in Game 2 that the Rangers say was made possible by a
pick. “Were trying not to get picked,” Rangers forward Brad Richards said.
“Sometimes you get picked. Were trying to let the refs know and have them look
at it.” Prust had a chance to present his version of the hit during a telephone
hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan on Sunday morning. It wasnt
enough for him to avoid having to sit out Game 4 on Monday night in New Jersey.
“I was able to talk quite a bit and explain where I was coming from,” Prust
said. “I was just trying to get into that check, I was at the end of a shift,
just skating over for a routine check, I just wanted to rub him out and get off
the ice. “He bailed out of it and turned and kind of went low. Its just kind of
a reaction. When youre off-balance, your arms go up, I didnt want to do a face
plant into the boards. It was just kind of a reaction, I had no intent to hit
him in the head there. There was nothing vicious about it.” Prusts elbow
connected with the back of Volchenkovs helmet near the boards at 2:38 of the
second period. Volchenkov stayed down for a bit, but remained in the game and
didnt miss a shift. Prust has received only two elbowing penalties in his
career. “I know Ive played a lot of professional hockey games and never been
suspended before,” he said. “I dont even think I had an elbowing penalty this
year. I didnt even really feel that elbow. I went to the bench and thought maybe
I caught him with my knee, maybe charley-horsed him. “I didnt hit him that hard,
I think I just kind of grazed his helmet a little bit, and it stood up. For sure
hes trying to get a penalty when your helmet comes up. Its just natural to try
to sell it for a power play.” Not surprisingly, Devils coach Peter DeBoer saw it
quite differently. “Head hunting. Plain and simple,” he said Saturday. Prust
wasnt fazed a bit by DeBoers characterization. “Im not really too worried about
what he has to say,” Prust said. “Hes not my coach.” Prusts suspension was the
13th handed out by Shanahan during this post-season, and the second to a Rangers
player. Rookie forward Carl Hagelin was given a three-game ban in the first
round for an elbow to the head of Daniel Alfredsson that gave the Ottawa
Senators captain a concussion. This is just the latest banter between the Devils
and Rangers and their respective head coaches. Tensions erupted on March 19 in
the final regular-season meeting between the Atlantic Division rivals, when
DeBoer had enforcers Cam Janssen, Eric BBoulton and Ryan Carter in the starting
lineup, and Tortorella countered with a physical lineup of Prust, Mike Rupp and
Stu Bickel. Pink Gonzalez Jersey. . The game began with
those six players engaging in fights. DeBoer said Tortorellas remarks on Sunday
were, “comical.” “Calling Prust a head hunter is unnecessary,” Rangers
defenceman Marc Staal said. “He has been a pretty honest player his whole
career.” Tortorella backed up Prust on Sunday, saying he didnt feel the hit
warranted a suspension. He also noted that Prust has never faced disciplinary
action in his five NHL seasons. “Prust has played probably 300-plus games
without any hearing, anything going on with him,” he said. “Hes probably one of
the most honest players. “Maybe if our players stayed down on the ice, well get
something.” Without Prust, the Rangers could turn to Brandon Dubinsky to replace
him. Dubinsky hasnt played since Game 7 of the first-round series against
Ottawa, when he injured his right foot or ankle. Dubinsky skated with his
teammates while wearing a contact jersey during Sundays optional practice.
Another possibility is Mats Zuccarello, who has been sidelined since March 23
with a broken wrist. “I dont know what Im going to do with the lineup,”
Tortorella said. “I dont think he should be suspended, so I really havent gone
that far.” Whether Tortorellas comments were fuelled by anger or gamesmanship,
the fiery coach wasnt about to sit back and have one of his players attacked at
this critical juncture of the playoffs. “We pride ourselves on playing hard
between the whistles,” Staal said. “We dont have guys on our team that dive and
try to embellish.” New York is looking to grab its first two-game lead in the
playoffs. The Rangers were forced to seven games in the first two rounds by
Ottawa and Washington, and would like to bring a 3-1 edge home to Madison Square
Garden for Game 5 on Wednesday night. The Devils could have a few new looks on
Monday night, too. New Jersey is on the verge of getting forward Jacob Josefson
into the lineup for the first time in the playoffs. Josefson, who practised on a
line with Alexei Ponikarovsky and David Clarkson on Sunday, has been out since
he broke his left wrist on April 3. “Coach told me Im playing, and Im very ready
to go,” Josefson said. “It feels great. My body feels great. It may be a little
tough stepping in, but Im a little more excited than anything. Ive been getting
better every day and I felt I could play in this series. Its just a matter of
when. I just hope I do well.” Josefsons return will likely force out struggling
veteran Petr Sykora, who practised with the extra players on Sunday. “He
finished the season very strong,” DeBoer said of Josefson. “The last three, four
weeks of the season he was great. Fresh legs this time of year, youre 15 games
into a playoff run, can never hurt. Hes been an effective guy for us, and we
missed him while he was out.” DeBoer also tinkered with his lines and split up
the high-powered duo of Kovalchuk and Parise. “I was everywhere today,”
Kovalchuk said. Zubrus took Kovalchuks place at right wing alongside Parise and
Travis Zajac. Kovalchuk, who has played right wing since Nov. 2 against Toronto,
went back to left wing on a line with Adam Henrique and Patrik Elias. “We got
shut out and were trying to generate some offence,” DeBoer said. “Its been a
general procedure for us to move some people around. The easy thing would be to
stick with what we had, but we decided to shuffle some things around and
hopefully well get results from it. Zubrus with Parise and Kovalchuk, theyve had
some chemistry in the past, prior to me even getting here. I hope that can
translate to some chances.” ’ ’ ’ 

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