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University of Maine hockey coach Shawn Walsh, who led the Black Bears to two national championships, died Monday, 15 months after being diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. He was 46.

After Walsh was diagnosed with renal cell carcinoma, he had his left lung and left kidney removed. He also underwent two exhaustive immunotherapy treatments and a stem-cell transplant.

He was taken to the Eastern Maine Medical Center on Sept. 10 after contracting pneumonia and died there.

Walsh, who was entering his 18th season at Maine, ranked 11th among active coaches and 19th on the overall victory list. He led Maine teams to two national championships and seven Frozen Four appearances.

"In the public's mind, no one was more closely associated with the University of Maine than Shawn," said Dr. Peter S. Hoff, university president. "It didn't matter whether you followed college hockey or not, people knew Shawn and they knew him as an ambassador of and for UMaine."

The Black Bears were scheduled for their first on-ice practice today.

Tim Whitehead, a newly named assistant and former coach at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell, is expected to serve as interim head coach.

Walsh coached Maine to its first NCAA Division I championship in 1993 and its second six years later.

Walsh was suspended in 1995 for one season following an NCAA rules violation.

He arrived at Maine in 1984, where he coached two Hobey Baker Award winners -- Paul Kariya and Scott Pellerin. His record at Maine was 399-214-44.

"He taught us what it takes to win," said Pellerin, who was with the Boston Bruins in Portland for an exhibition game against the Washington Capitals. "He really pushed you, but it was always positive."

Fedorov charged with impaired driving

Detroit Red Wings star Sergei Fedorov has been arrested on a charge of driving while impaired.

Fedorov was stopped early Sunday in this Detroit suburb of Royal Oak after he was seen driving through a red light "at a high rate of speed," according to a police statement.

After failing a field sobriety test, Fedorov was arrested and agreed to a breath test, which revealed he had a .09 percent blood alcohol content, slightly under the state's limit of .10.

Fedorov was released on bond, but must appear in 44th District Court no later than Oct. 3.

After practicing Monday morning with the Red Wings, Fedorov refused comment.

In other NHL news, the agent for Bryan Berard is hoping to negotiate a deal that would allow the former NHL defenseman to come back without returning all of his $6.5-million insurance settlement.

Under agent Tom Laidlaw's proposal, Berard would repay the insurance company by turning over his NHL salary each year he plays. But should he be forced to the sidelines again, the payments would stop.

Berard is now expected to sign a four-year deal with the New York Rangers worth an average $2.875 million a season.

Also: The Columbus Blue Jackets have agreed to a two-year contract with defenseman Deron Quint, who had the best season of his six-year career last year (seven goals, 16 assists in 57 games). . . . Defenseman Zdeno Chara signed a $4.5 million, three-year contract with Ottawa on Monday.

Seat belt partially tore in Mayfield crash

The seat belt in Jeremy Mayfield's car was partially torn during an accident that injured the driver at Dover Downs International Speedway.

NASCAR officials found a tear in the left lap belt while inspecting Mayfield's car following his accident Sunday. The belt was made by Simpson Performance Products, the same company that manufactured the torn belt found in Dale Earnhardt's car following his fatal accident.

Bill Simpson, who resigned this summer as president of the company citing stress from Earnhardt's death, did not immediately return a phone call for comment.

NASCAR officials attributed Mayfield's torn belt to the phenomenon known as "dumping," which was first revealed in the investigation into Earnhardt's Feb. 18 crash.

Dumping occurs when the webbing is pulled or moved to one side of the adjustment device through which the belt webbing travels. When a dumped belt is under stress, it can separate and tear across the entire webbing.

NASCAR said Mayfield's belt was only partially torn. Earnhardt's was completely separated.

Chip Williams, Mayfield's spokesman, said the crew has insisted the belts were properly installed in Mayfield's car.

"They said everything was in right," Williams said Monday.

Mayfield was not seriously injured in the accident, which started when he blew a tire in Turn 1. He lost control of his car and hit the wall hard between Turns 1 and 2, heavily damaging the front right of his Ford Taurus.

Mayfield walked away from the accident, but was taken to a hospital for treatment on bruises and a chipped tooth.

In other NASCAR news, Lowe's Motor Speedway said it will still allow fans to bring coolers into the stands at its race next month. Lowe's said the track said it would continue its policy of searching the coolers as fans carry them into the track at the UAW-GM Quality 500 on Oct. 6.

Coolers, a tradition among race fans, have been banned at many tracks in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks on New York and Washington. They were banned from Sunday's race in Dover, Del.

UB kicker Pelz earns MAC honors

University at Buffalo sophomore kicker Dallas Pelz was named the Mid-American Conference East Division special teams player of the week on Monday.

Pelz (St. Francis) was instrumental in helping UB secure its first win of the season last Saturday when the Bulls defeated Connecticut, 37-20. Pelz kicked three field goals and was perfect on four PATs. He became the first Buffalo kicker to nail three field goals in a game since Scott Keller turned the trick at Lafayette in 1998. Pelz is now 3 for 4 on field goals for the season and 5 for 5 on PATs.

Pelz becomes the third UB player in their MAC history to earn MAC Player of the Week honors. Craig Rohlfs (1999) and Duane Williams (2000) also earned the honor.

In other college football news, Carlyle Holiday will start at quarterback for Notre Dame on Saturday against Texas A&M as the Irish try to help their struggling offense. Holiday replaces Matt LoVecchio, who led the Irish to seven straight wins and a Fiesta Bowl appearance last season.

Notre Dame's longest touchdown drive of the season is 6 yards following a 53-punt return against Michigan State.

The Irish are 112th out of 115 Division I-A teams in total offense, averaging 221 yards a game, and are in danger of going 0-3 for the first time in school history.

Around & About

A Florida prosecutor testified that he saw no ethical problem when his romance with tennis star Martina Hingis blossomed two days after he obtained a two-year jail sentence for her stalker, Dubravko Rajcevic. Assistant State Attorney Christopher Calkin said he felt no personal interest in Hingis before sentencing on April 12, and "no moral, ethical or legal obligation" to keep his distance afterward.

Janette Piesczynski of Cheektowaga is in fourth place after the first round (18 games) of the PWBA Jacksonville Open in Florida. Piesczynski has a total pinfall of 4,077. Carolyn Dorin-Ballard of North Richland Hills, Texas leads at 4,194. Liz Johnson, also of Cheektowaga, is 16th at 3,863.

The Buffalo Lightning dropped to 1-4 in the Ontario Provincial Junior A Hockey League after losing to the Brampton Capitals, 11-1, at the West Seneca Recreation Center. Mark Kuczmanski had the lone goal.

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