Canada’s World Junior hopefuls took another hard hit on Tuesday.
Hockey Canada suspended the National Junior Team Selection Camp in Red Deer after two players tested positive for COVID-19.
“Hockey Canada confirmed earlier today that two players have tested positive for COVID-19, and have been placed in quarantine at the team hotel in Red Deer,” said Scott Salmond, senior vice-president of national teams.
The 28-day camp began on Nov. 17 with 47 players vying for a spot on Team Canada. The players were competing for a chance to play in the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship starting Dec. 25 just down the road in Edmonton.
However, upon learning of the COVID positive tests, the Red-White match scheduled for Tuesday morning and all other activities were shut down immediately.
“As per Hockey Canada’s safety protocols, all players, coaches and staff members took mandatory COVID-19 tests upon arrival at camp and have continued to be tested regularly throughout the past ten days,” said Salmond. “For precautionary reasons, we will also ensure that all players and team personnel go through an additional test before resuming camp activities.”
The cases bring the number to three in total, after a non-playing member of Hockey Canada’s staff tested positive for the virus on Saturday. The staff member was isolated and precautionary measures taken to avoid risk of exposure to players and other staff, perhaps unsuccessfully.
Individuals close to the staff member were placed in quarantine in the team’s Red Deer hotel room. As of press time, the names of those infected had not been released to the public.
“The appropriate local and provincial health authorities have been made aware of the situation, and we will continue to work closely with Alberta Health Services,” said Salmond. “We will have no further comment at this time.”
The World Juniors was originally scheduled to be played in Red Deer and Edmonton from Dec. 26 to Jan. 5. However, the onset of the pandemic forced organizers to limit the venue to Rogers’ Place in Edmonton.
In an Oct. 29 release, Hockey Canada said it had put a COVID-19 compliance officer in place, as “the point person for all testing and test results, as well as ensuring protocols are being followed from the start of camp through the end of the World Juniors.”
Canada’s National Junior Team plans to relocate from Red Deer to Edmonton on Dec. 13, where the team will quarantine for four full days before beginning its pre-tournament preparations on Dec. 18.
Group A will consist of Canada, Finland, Germany, Slovakia and Switzerland. Group B has the United States, Sweden, Austria, Czech Republic, and Russia.
Team Canada is looking for its second consecutive gold medal at the tournament, and its 19th title all-time.