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Sports briefs


IHL EXPERIMENT: A unique weekend in professional hockey history is set to take place at the end of the March in Las Vegas.

On March 27 and 28, the Detroit Vipers will visit the Thomas & Mack Center to play the Las Vegas Thunder in two games using a four-quarter format. It is the first time a regular season hockey game has been altered from three periods.

These experimental fnrmatq have been designed by the International Hockey League in consultation with the NHL. Fan and player reaction will be surveyed following the games.

"This experiment is part of an ongoing process of evaluating all aspects of our game," said Briaii Burke, NHL Senior Vice-President and Director of Hockey Operations. "We appreciate the cooperation that the IHL lent to this."

Each quarter will be 15 minutes in duration. At the end of the first and third quarters an eight-minute break will allow the ice to be resurfaced. "Half-time" will commence at the end of the second quarter and last for 14 minutes. A standard shootout will follow the fourth quarter should the game end in a tie.

Fox Sports Net will televise the March 28 game to a national audience.


DOWNHILL CANCELED: Fog forced race officials to cancel the season-ending women's downhill today in the World Cup finals in Crans Montana, Switzerland.

The race was postponed several times before the International Ski Federation decided to cancel it outright, preferring instead to attempt to squeeze in the last men's downhill of the season.


ROSE SPEAKS . . . OOPS!: Pete Rose's one-hour talk to some attentive Cincinnati Reds minor leaguers might have hurt the career hits leader's bid to reverse his lifetime ban.

Rose gave an impromptu motivational speech to nearly 100 minor leaguers, including son Pete Jr. Rose had permission from the team to watch his son work out, but there was no prior indication he would speak.

Baseball said the talk violated the lifetime ban Rose agreed to nearly nine years ago. The Reds might be fined as a result of Rose's speech, a baseball official said, speaking on condition he not be identified.

Rose, who agreed to accept the ban following baseball's investigation of his gambling, applied for reinstatement Sept. 26.

Meanwhile, All-Star shortstop Barry Larkin, unable to protect himself defensively because of a perforated disk in his neck, needs surgery and will be out at least 4-to-6 weeks. Surgery to remove a protrusion from a vertebrae in his neck is scheduled for Friday in Cincinnati.


VIKINGS OWNERS, TAGLIABUE MEET: Minnesota Vikings part-owners told NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue that team president Roger Headrick didn't tell them of his desire to buy the team until after novelist Tom Clancy submitted his winning bid.

Four of the Vikings' 10 part-owners testified at NFL headquarters about Headrick's claim he has the right to top Clancy's $200 million agreement. Tagliabue is expected to issue his decision next week.

BRONCOS SIGN SMITH: Pro Bowl defensive end Neil Smith signed a four-year, $13.6 million contract with the Denver Broncos, ending speculation whether the Super Bowl champions would find enough money to keep the free agent.

Smith, who will receive a $3.2 million signing bonus, joined the Broncos as a free agent before last season after nine seasons with Kansas City.

- Tight end Jackie Harris agreed to a two-year, $2.1 million contract with the Tennessee Oilers. He had 19 receptions for 197 yards and one touchdown last year for Tampa Bay.

DUNGY GETS NEW DEAL: The Tampa Bay Buccaneers gave coach Tony Dungy a new five-year contract worth more than $6 million. Dungy led the Bucs to an 11-5 mark in the regular season, and their first playoff victory in 18 years.


NEWSWEEK CHAMPIONS CUP: At Indian Wells, Calif., Andre Agassi, seeking his third straight tournament title, beat Sergi Bruguera 6-2, 6-4 in the second round of the Newsweek Champions Cup.

In the State Farm Evert Cup, top-ranked Martina Hingis stormed back from a 1-5 deficit in the second set to beat fifth-seeded Conchita Martinez 6-1, 7-5. That set Hingis up for a semifinal showdown with Venus Williams, who rolled to a 6-1, 6-3 victory over Joannette Kruger.

- At Copenhagen, Denmark, second-seeded Magnus Gustafsson of Sweden beat Italy's Renzo Furlan 6-2, 6-3 in the second round of the Copenhagen Open.


UTAH ROUND ROBIN: The opening volley of the Utah Round Robin Trap Shoot can be heard on March 22 at the Salt Lake Gun Club. The event draws trap shooters, from experts to beginners, each year for three days of competition. Participants will compete again on March 29 and finish on April 5.

Competition consists of five-member teams each shooting 75 rounds of trap. Teams are made up of five levels of shooters from A or experts to E or first-time competitors.

The purpose, says Larry Mitchell, manager of the gun club, is to introduce a wide range of people to trap shooting.

Cost is $13 to enter and $13 each of the three weeks. Mitchell says $5,000 in prizes will be awarded. Each member of the winning team, for example, will win a new shotgun, and each member of the runner-up team will receive a .22 caliber rifle. Entry deadline is March 18. For information call 298-7516.