United States Forfeits World Junior Hockey Game To Switzerland Due To COVID-19 Quarantine

EDMONTON – The defending champions United States withdrew Tuesday’s game against Switzerland at the World Junior Hockey Championship because two players tested positive for the COVID-19 virus.

The American team has been placed in compulsory quarantine. The game was scheduled to be played Tuesday afternoon in Red Deer, which co-hosts the 2022 Men’s Under-20 tournament with Edmonton.

The game will be recorded as a 1-0 win for Switzerland by forfeit according to the rules, the International Ice Hockey Federation said in a statement.

“We are extremely disappointed, especially for our players,” US junior team general manager John Vanbiesbrouck said in a statement.

“We operate in a constantly changing landscape and it is very difficult.

“We have followed tournament protocol from the start and will continue to do everything possible to ensure that our players have the opportunity to participate in the World Junior Championship.

Team USA’s quarantine status will be assessed later to determine whether they can make their way to their next preliminary round game against Sweden on Wednesday, the IIHF said.

“I hope your players are doing well and that your team can come out of quarantine soon,” @usahockey, “the Swiss Ice Hockey Federation posted on Twitter.

The Swiss team held training on Tuesday in the absence of a match.

The Americans opened Pool B in Red Deer with a 3-2 win over Slovakia. The Swiss were without captain Simon Knak, who tested positive for COVID, in a 4-2 loss to Russia in their first game.

The top four teams from each pool advance to the quarter-finals on Sunday, followed by the semi-finals on January 4 and the medal matches on January 5.

Although no game is scheduled for Saturday, a makeup match cannot be played on that day as the Swiss could end up playing three consecutive days. It goes against IIHF sporting regulations, an IIHF spokesperson told The Canadian Press.

“There are also other logistical and broadcast conflicts that don’t allow us to be very flexible with moving games to new dates,” Adam Steiss said in an email.

Canada v Austria in Pool A in Edmonton was the only other game scheduled for Tuesday.

Meanwhile, two Alberta women’s hockey games between Canada and the United States were canceled on Tuesday because several Canadian players and staff were in COVID protocol.

The Canadians were scheduled to meet on January 3 at Rogers Place in Edmonton for the men’s junior championship and again on January 6 in Red Deer.

The United States defeated Canada 2-0 in the final of the 2021 Junior Boys Tournament in Edmonton. The 2022 roster includes six returning players from this squad.

Teams that traveled to Canada were quarantined for two days after arriving on Dec. 15 with just over 5,800 tests performed on 462 players, staff and match officials ahead of the tournament opening on Sunday, according to the IIHF.

A Finnish player has tested positive and has been placed in isolation with no other team members affected. Two game officials have been isolated after testing positive during quarantine.

The positive Knak test prompted the cancellation of a pre-tournament match between Switzerland and the Czech Republic. An Austrian player who tested positive has placed this team in quarantine until contact tracing was completed and the team was released to play their first game against Finland on Monday.

Germany were less than a third of their squad to start the 2021 U-20 World Championship in Edmonton, but were able to play matches because players who had not tested positive had crossed a quarantine of 10 days after their arrival in Canada.

The IIHF canceled six men’s and women’s tournaments in January, including the Women’s Under-18 World Championship for the second year in a row, over concerns about COVID-19.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 28, 2021.


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Catherine J. Martinez