Center Backstrom named to Swedish Olympic team


Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom will represent Sweden at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, British Columbia. Swedish coach Bengt Gustafsson - a former Capital - on Sunday announced his team's 23-man roster that will try to defend Sweden's gold medal from the 2006 Olympics. Backstrom, 22, will be making his first Olympic appearance. The 6-foot-1, 210-pound native of Gavle, Sweden, ranks sixth in the NHL (second among Swedish-born players) with 45 points (15 goals, 30 assists) in 39 games. He leads the Capitals in assists and ranks second in goals and points. Backstrom recorded the 200th point of his three-year NHL career and added two more in the Capitals' 4-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Saturday night. With 202 points in 202 games, he is one of 10 active NHL players averaging a point per game in his career (minimum 100 games played). The youngest player on the Swedish roster, Backstrom has represented his country in five major international events: three world championships and two world junior championships. Backstrom will join at least three teammates in Vancouver, as Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Semyon Varlamov were named to the Russian team Thursday.

Semin: : The forward agreed to a one-year contract extension with Washington on Saturday. The team didn't disclose terms of the deal that will allow Semin, 25, to become an unrestricted free agent after the 2010-11 season. Semin, in his fifth-year in the NHL, had an assist Saturday night against New Jersey and has 32 points in 29 games. He has 248 career points (122 goals, 126 assists). "I am extremely happy to sign here," Semin said through an interpreter after Saturday's game. "I like this team. I really like everything here."


Et cetera

Ferdinand's hat trick leads Blast over Rockford, 10-8

The Blast improved to 4-1 and moved into sole possession of first place in the Major Indoor Soccer League with a 10-8 victory over the host Rockford Rampage on Sunday. Rookie Max Ferdinand led the Blast with a career-high three goals. Lucio Gonzaga scored the game-winning goal at 11:31 of the fourth quarter. Bato Radoncic scored the first goal of the second half to give Rockford a 6-3 lead, but Ferdinand took over from that point, scoring the next two goals. He recorded his second 3-pointer in the fifth minute to tie the score at 6, then scored his third goal in the ninth minute to give the Blast its first lead of the game, 8-6. Erik Lukin scored the last goal of the quarter to tie the score at 8. The Rampage had started the second quarter with a power-play goal from Semir Mesanovic to take a 2-0 lead. Matthew Stewart, who assisted on Mesanovic's goal, added a goal in the 10th minute of the quarter to extend Rockford's advantage to 4-0. Ferdinand scored a 3-pointer at the 11:50 mark to cut the Rampage lead to 4-3 heading into halftime.

Pro basketball: : The Maryland Marvels of the American Basketball Association defeated the New York Red Riders, 96-92, on Saturday in New York. Curtis Massey led the Marvels with 19 points, while Eric Bigby and Maurice Davis each scored 18. Willie Richard was leading scorer for the Red Riders with 24 points.

College basketball: : The Salisbury women's basketball team rescheduled its game against Washington College, originally slated for Dec. 19. The game will be played next Monday in Chestertown, with tip-off set for 5:30 p.m. The game was postponed because of a winter storm.

- From Sun staff and news services