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SEATTLE — More than an hour after Cal Raleigh ended the longest playoff drought in baseball, he was back on the field with his teammates, circling the perimeter of the field to acknowledge the tens of thousands of fans who still stuck around.

The celebration was more akin to winning something big in October, rather than a victory on the last day of September. But after 21 years, the Seattle Mariners could be excused for going a little over the top upon their return to the playoffs.

“It’s better than maybe what you could dream it to be,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.

Raleigh hit a game-winning home run with two outs in the bottom of the ninth inning, and the Mariners clinched a wild-card berth in the American League with a 2-1 victory over the Oakland Athletics on Friday night.

Raleigh, pinch-hitting for Luis Torrens, hit a 3-2 pitch from Domingo Acevedo (3-4) just inside the right-field foul pole for a solo homer that sent the Mariners to the postseason for the first time since 2001.

“I remember the moment when I knew it was fair and looking at the team and everybody’s jumping. It was just crazy,” Raleigh said.

Seattle’s celebration on the field lasted more than 10 minutes as fans and players lifted themselves from the burden of two decades without seeing playoffs from their baseball team.

That was just the start.

Nearly an hour later, and with the stands still mostly full, Servais and his team were back on the field after a wild clubhouse celebration. He grabbed the microphone and reminded the crowd, colorfully, that when he arrived along with president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto seven years ago, the mission was to end the “drought.”

“We did it. These players behind me are special. They care. They care about winning the right way. They care about representing the city of Seattle,” Servais told the crowd.

It indeed had been a long wait — the last time the Mariners advanced to the postseason, the team was led by rookie Ichiro Suzuki and Edgar Martinez and managed by Lou Piniella.

As has been the case for most of this season with the Mariners, their 86th win and the one that sent them back to the playoffs happened in the most stressful way possible. Seattle was unable to solve Oakland starter Ken Waldichuk and an assembly line of relievers for eight innings, held only to Ty France‘s RBI double that scored Dylan Moore two batters into the game.

Acevedo struck out Mitch Haniger and Carlos Santana to open the ninth, but Raleigh came through with his 26th home run of the season, the most ever by a Seattle catcher.

“It’s not really a pressure moment,” Raleigh said. “We’re having fun. We’re playing baseball. That’s the way I look at it. And I think that’s the mentality you got to have.”

Aside from the clinching a spot in the postseason, Seattle stayed 1½ games behind the Toronto Blue Jays for the top wild-card spot and one half-game ahead of the Tampa Bay Rays as the three continue to jockey for seeding.

But the place in the standings didn’t matter on this night. It was all about punching the final AL ticket and ending two decades without the guarantee of playoff baseball.

Seattle’s berth ended the longest active playoff drought in any of the four major professional sports, a dubious honor that now falls to the Sacramento Kings, who have not made the NBA playoffs since the 2005-06 season. The Mariners are still the only current team never to have played in the World Series.

The last time the Mariners reached the postseason they tied a major league record by winning 116 games in the regular season, but lost to the New York Yankees 3-1 in the AL Championship Series.

Seattle’s Logan Gilbert threw a career-high eight innings, allowing three hits. His only mistake was a home run by Shea Langeliers in the second inning.

Gilbert retired 18 of the final 20 batters he faced and set down the A’s in order in each of his final four innings. Seth Brown walked leading of the seventh but was retired on a double play.

Gilbert struck out four and walked off the mound after the eighth to a standing ovation and the plea from fans for a run.

Matt Brash (4-4) struck out a pair in the ninth and set the stage for Raleigh.

“It was crazy. I mean, I haven’t been in Seattle but a few years but I feel like I’m one of the fans that have waited for 21 years,” Gilbert said. “It was just a culmination of a lot of waiting.”

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U.S. advances at hockey worlds; Canada now 6-0

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U.S. advances at hockey worlds; Canada now 6-0

PRAGUE — Dylan Cozens scored two goals and had an assist to rally Canada past Switzerland 3-2 for its sixth win in six games at the ice hockey world championship on Sunday.

Canada leads Group A with 17 points, two more than the Czech Republic in second with Switzerland another point back in third. The three teams had already clinched a spot in the playoff round.

Cozens has scored six goals at the tournament and is tied atop the scoring table with American Brady Tkachuk and Finland’s Oliver Kapanen.

Nick Paul also scored for Canada and goaltender Jordan Binnington made 20 saves including a penalty shot in the second period when the score was 2-2.

Cozens found the roof of the net on a power play 1:42 into the game to give Canada an early lead.

Switzerland answered with two goals.

Kevin Fiala wristed an equalizer past Binnington in the opening frame on a power play.

Romain Loeffel put the Swiss 2-1 up in the middle period with a slap shot from the blue line.

Cozens tied it again at 2-2 from the top of the left circle on a power play.

Paul scored the winner for Canada on a power play, completing a series of passes by scoring into an open goal midway through the second.

Canada will complete the preliminary round on Tuesday against the Czech Republic, when Switzerland will face Finland.

In Group B, Latvia prevailed over Slovakia 3-2 in a penalty shootout. The result sent the United States to the next round.

Tkachuk scored three power play goals and added an assist to help the United States rout Kazakhstan 10-1.

Its fourth victory lifted the Americans to second place in Group B with 13 points, one ahead of Germany and Slovakia with a game against Latvia, which has nine points, on Tuesday to play in the preliminary round.

Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and four assists to become the United States record scorer with 43 points, one more than Patrick Kane.

Matt Boldy scored twice and had four assists, Brock Nelson and Luke Kunin both had a goal and an assist, and Gavin Brindley and Kevin Hayes also scored.

Alex Nedeljkovic made 13 saves.

In a four-goal opening period, Tkatchuk tipped in a shot by Zach Werenski on a power play to increase the U.S. lead to 2-0, and buried a rebound to make it 4-0 on a power play.

He completed his hat trick to increase the advantage to 8-0 with a one-timed shot from the right circle on another power play in the final period.

Alikhan Omirbekov scored the consolation goal for Kazakhstan when his team was 9-0 down.

In Group A, Austria beat Norway 4-1 and is tied for fourth place with Finland.

The top four from each group advance to the playoff round.

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Source: Boeser (blood clots) not expected in G7

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Source: Boeser (blood clots) not expected in G7

Vancouver Canucks right wing Brock Boeser is not expected to play in Game 7 of their second-round series against the Edmonton Oilers on Monday because of a blood-clotting issue, a source told ESPN, confirming a report.

There’s no timeline for his return to action. The Canucks had no comment on Boeser’s status.

Boeser didn’t skate in practice Sunday. Coach Rick Tocchet would only say at a media availability that “he needed the maintenance day.”

Boeser, 27, leads the Canucks in goals (7) and is tied for the lead in points (12) during the postseason. He established career highs in goals (40), points (73) and games played (81) during the regular season.

The Canucks winger has had some MVP moments during their playoff run. His hat trick in Game 4 against the Nashville Predators led them to a comeback win. Boeser’s three points in the first period of Game 3 led Vancouver to a win over Edmonton.

It’s the second significant injury for Vancouver in the playoffs after a regular season of relatively good health for the team’s core players. Starting goaltender Thatcher Demko, a finalist for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s best netminder, hasn’t played since Game 1 of the first round because of a knee injury. Edmonton won Game 6 at home Saturday night to force Monday’s Game 7, the only seventh game of the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. The winner faces the Dallas Stars in the Western Conference finals.

The Boeser injury news was first reported by Vancouver-based hockey journalist Irfaan Gaffar.

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Canes re-sign Brind’Amour off latest playoff run

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Canes re-sign Brind'Amour off latest playoff run

RALEIGH, N.C. — The Carolina Hurricanes re-signed coach Rod Brind’Amour and his staff to multiyear contracts, keeping one of the best in the NHL behind the bench around for the long term.

The team announced the re-signings Sunday for Brind’Amour, assistants Jeff Daniels and Tim Gleason, goaltending coach Paul Schonfelder and video coach Chris Huffine.

“Rod has been instrumental to the success we’ve had over the last six seasons,” team president and general manager Don Waddell said. “Ever since he joined the organization 24 years ago, Rod has embodied what it means to be a Hurricane. We hope to keep him a Hurricane for life.”

Brind’Amour was in the final year of a deal reached in 2021, when he was the winner of the Jack Adams Award as the league’s top coach. His status had become a talking point around the NHL as jobs changed hands, though Brind’Amour — as well as Waddell — had expressed confidence that a deal would get done.

“I never had a doubt in my mind he [would] come back,” Carolina center Sebastian Aho said earlier in the day when asked about the reports of a deal. “Not surprised, I would say.”

Brind’Amour took over in 2018 to lead a franchise that had missed the playoffs for nine straight years. The Hurricanes have gone to the playoffs six times in as many seasons under the captain of Carolina’s 2006 Stanley Cup winner. Carolina has also won at least one series in each of the past six postseasons, marking the first time a team has accomplished that since the Detroit Red Wings did it from 1995 to 2000. The Canes also reached the Eastern Conference finals twice in the past six seasons.

Carolina finished three points behind the New York Rangers for the Metropolitan Division title and Presidents’ Trophy (presented to the league’s top regular-season team), another season in which it ranked among the NHL’s top teams with an aggressive forechecking style.

The Hurricanes beat the New York Islanders in five games in Round 1 then lost to the Rangers in a six-game second-round series after falling in a 3-0 hole.

Brind’Amour, 53, arrived in Raleigh in a January 2000 trade from the Philadelphia Flyers and played there until his retirement in 2010. He then spent seven seasons as an assistant coach before taking over as a first-time head coach.

Multiple players were asked earlier Sunday about Brind’Amour’s status during end-of-season interviews. None expressed concern that he wouldn’t return or that it had been any type of distraction.

“He’s one of the main pieces that turned this organization around from where it was when I first got here,” defenseman Jaccob Slavin said. “So I think anyone would want him to stay as well. I know he wants to be here. I’m confident it’ll get done.”

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