The University of Maine was picked eighth on Thursday as Hockey East released its preseason poll for the 2019-20 season.

Maine finished 11-9-4 and placed sixth last season in Hockey East with 26 points.

Boston College was first in the poll, getting eight of the 11 first-place votes. Massachusetts was second with two first-place votes. Northeastern got the other first-place vote, but was fourth, behind Providence.

The Black Bears open their season a week from Saturday at Providence College.

MEN’S BASKETBALL: Georgia Tech’s basketball team was banned from postseason play for the upcoming season and slapped with four years of probation for major recruiting violations committed by a former assistant coach and an ex-friend of Coach Josh Pastner.

The sanctions handed down by the NCAA also included a reduction in scholarships, limits on recruiting and a fine of $5,000 plus 2 percent of the program’s budget – a major blow to Pastner’s efforts to rebuild the struggling Atlantic Coast Conference program.

Georgia Tech AD Todd Stansbury said in a statement the school is considering a possible appeal.


G LEAGUE: The NBA says most two- and three-shot fouls in the G League this season will be settled by taking just one free throw.

A made shot will count for the two or three points. Multiple free throws will be taken in the last 2 minutes of regulation or in overtime.

The change is being made in part to study if game length gets shorter.

Rule changes are often added to the G League in an effort to get real data and feedback before they are considered for implementation at the NBA level. Other past examples are the 14-second shot clock reset on offensive rebounds and the coach’s challenge, both of which were in the G League before making the NBA rulebook.

NBA: Memphis Grizzlies forward De’Anthony Melton will miss one to two months with what the team has described as a stress reaction in his back.


NHL: Montreal Canadiens Hall of Famer Guy Lafleur, 68, underwent quadruple bypass heart surgery, the NHL club has confirmed.

The Canadiens say the procedure took place at the Centre hospitalier de l’Universite de Montreal (CHUM).

“This procedure was necessary after a routine examination detected a cardiac issue,” the Canadiens said in a statement. “The operation was successful, and doctors predict a full recovery after several months of convalescence. The family wishes to thank the entire medical team, as well as the personnel at the CHUM, and will not issue any further comment.”

• The Buffalo Sabres returned top prospect Dylan Cozens to his Canadian junior team.

The rookie first-round draft pick was assigned to Lethbridge of the Western Hockey League after the 18-year-old center had no points in three preseason games with Buffalo.

Cozens was selected with the seventh overall pick in the draft in June, and became the first player from Canada’s Yukon Territory to be chosen in the first round.


RETURN: Former middleweight boxing champion Nigel Benn is returning to the ring at the age of 55 for a one-off fight, saying he wants “closure” on a career blighted by drug abuse, depression and the death of his brother.

Benn, who has not fought professionally since 1996, will face 40-year-old Sakio Bika in Birmingham on Nov. 23.


ZHUHAI CHAMPIONSHIPS: Andy Murray’s singles comeback hit another roadblock as he lost 4-6, 6-2, 6-4 to Alex de Minaur of Australia in the second round at Zhuhai, China.

Murray won his first tour-level match since having hip surgery in January when he beat Tennys Sandgren on Tuesday but couldn’t follow that up despite winning the first set, as he only converted two of his nine break points.

WUHAN OPEN: Top-ranked Ash Barty reached the semifinals at Wuhan, China, for the third straight year by beating Petra Martic of Croatia 7-6 (6), 3-6, 6-3.


EUROPEAN TOUR: South African golfer Justin Walters shot a 9-under 63 for his lowest score on the European Tour in six years, giving him a one-stroke lead after the first round of the Alfred Dunhill Links Championship at St. Andrews, Scotland.

Every player in the field plays 18 holes at St. Andrews, Carnoustie and Kingsbarns, before returning to the Old Course for the fourth and final round Sunday.

Three players – Victor Perez of France, Jordan Smith of England, and Ryan Fox of New Zealand – shot 64 at St. Andrews, with Adrian Otaegui shooting the same score at Kingsbarns.

LPGA: Mi Jung Hur shot a 9-under 63 on to take the first-round lead in the Indy Women in Tech Championship at Indianapolis.

Hur had a bogey-free round at Brickyard Crossing, the layout that features four holes inside the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval.

England’s Bronte Law, coming off Europe’s victory over the United States in the Solheim Cup, was two strokes back with Denmark’s Nanna Koerstz Madsen and Japan’s Sakura Yokomine.

PGA: Adam Scott and Andrew Landry shot 7-under 65 to share the first-round lead at the Safeway Open at Napa, California.

Playing in the morning pairings at Silverado Country Club, Scott had six birdies and an eagle to make up for an early bogey. Landry teed off 4 1/2 hours later and played bogey-free with seven birdies.

Francesco Molinari and Matthew NeSmith were a stroke back. Cameron Champ, Adam Long and Chris Baker shot 67.

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