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Five For Friday: May 16, 2014

By Paul D. Bowker | May 16, 2014, 11:55 a.m. (ET)

Michael Phelps trains ahead of the Arena Grand Prix at Charlotte at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center on May 15, 2014 in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Michael Phelps is back on the comeback trail with his second swimming event since the London 2012 Olympic Games in Charlotte, North Carolina, and fellow Olympic champion Allyson Felix will be making her international season debut in a Diamond League track event in Shanghai. World championship volleyball spots will be on the line for both the U.S. men’s and women’s teams in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Plus, a number of Olympians are doing battle in the NHL’s Stanley Cup playoffs, which move into the conference finals this weekend.

As we ready for the weekend, here’s a look at five events to follow:

1) Swimming

Michael Phelps, a 22-time Olympic medalist, made a splash with his return to the pool last month in Mesa, Arizona, and will continue his comeback this weekend at the Arena Grand Prix in Charlotte. But this time he will hit the water without rival Ryan Lochte to push him.

Lochte withdrew from the competition earlier this week because of a knee injury that continues to bother him. He is recovering from an MCL tear. Lochte defeated Phelps in the 100-meter butterfly at Phelps’ first comeback meet in April in Mesa and had been scheduled to face Phelps in the 100 butterfly and 200 freestyle in Charlotte.

The Charlotte meet began Thursday at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center and is the fifth stop in the 2014 Grand Prix Series.

The 200 freestyle includes Phelps, and North Baltimore Aquatic Club teammates Yannick Agnel, Conor Dwyer and Matt McLean. All are 2012 Olympians, although Agnel competed for France. .

Tyler Clary, who won the gold medal in the 200 backstroke in London now trains in Charlotte, making this a home meet for him. He is among more than 50 members of the USA Swimming National Team participating in the meet. Clary is seeded No. 1 in the 200 backstroke and 200 butterfly.

Allison Schmitt, the No. 1 seed in the women’s 200 freestyle, is part of a strong women’s field that also includes Olympic teammates Elizabeth Beisel and Jessica Hardy.

TV: 6 p.m. ET Friday and Saturday, Universal Sports

Webcast: usaswimming.org

2) Track & Field

Allyson Felix, a three-time gold medalist at the London 2012 Olympic Games, is expected to make her 2014 international debut Sunday at the IAAF Diamond League stop in Shanghai. She is a two-time Diamond League champion at 200 and 400 meters.

Felix is coming off a hamstring injury she suffered in the 200 final at the 2013 World Championships.

The meet also features U.S. hurdler Aries Merritt, a gold medalist at the London Games who suffered a hamstring injury at the Shanghai Diamond League event in 2013. Olympic silver medalist high jumper Erik Kynard, who earned a silver medal in the Diamond League season-opening meet last week in Doha, Qatar, jumping a personal-best 7 feet, 9.25 inches.

Webcast: 8 a.m. ET Sunday, universalsports.com

Back in the United States, three-time Olympian Lolo Jones will compete Friday night in the Atlanta stop on the inaugural American Track League tour. The event will be held at the Greater Atlanta Christian School in Norcross, Georgia. A hurdler, Jones made her Winter Games debut as a bobsledder in February in Sochi, Russia.

3) Volleyball

The U.S. women’s and men’s national teams will seek to win spots in the 2014 FIVB world championship tournaments in the NORCECA World Championship Qualification Tournaments this week. Both teams will have a home-court advantage because both qualifiers are being held at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

The U.S. men, who are ranked No. 1 in NORCECA and No. 4 in the world, will face Guatemala Friday and Haiti Saturday. The medal round takes place Sunday. The team includes outside hitter Reid Priddy, a three-time Olympian, and two-time Olympians David Lee and Sean Rooney.

The U.S. women, who are ranked No. 2 in the world, will face Panama Friday and Honduras Saturday, followed by the medal round Sunday. Hayley Hodson, an outside hitter from Newport Beach, California, is the only high school player on the squad. The rest are athletes who completed their college eligibility in fall 2013 and participated in the U.S. Women’s Winter Training Block with coach Karch Kiraly.

4) Boxing

The Golden Gloves national championships continue through Saturday in Las Vegas. The tournament features nearly 300 boxers, who advanced to the nationals through regional Golden Gloves championships. Champions in 10 weight classes will be crowned in title bouts Saturday at the Las Vegas Hilton.

5) Ice Hockey

The U.S. Men’s National Team will face Kazakhstan Friday, Finland Sunday and Germany  Tuesday to close out preliminary round play in the IIHF Men’s World Championships in Minsk, Belarus. Team USA began the tournament with wins over Belarus and Switzerland, but dropped to 2-2 with a 6-5 loss to Latvia Thursday.

Brock Nelson of the New York Islanders scored twice in Thursday’s game. Nelson earned a bronze medal with Team USA at the 2011 World Junior Championships.

TV: 9:45 a.m. ET Friday and Sunday, 5:45 a.m. Tuesday, NBC Sports Network

Meanwhile, U.S. Olympic goaltender Jonathan Quick is expected to be in goal for the Los Angeles Kings for Game 7 of their Stanley Cup Western Conference semifinal playoff series against Anaheim Friday night. The winner will meet Olympian Patrick Kane and the Chicago Blackhawks in the Western Conference Finals. The Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens begins Saturday.

Story courtesy Red Line Editorial, Inc. Paul D. Bowker is a freelance contributor for TeamUSA.org

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