Canada’s world junior camp in Red Deer, Alta., is on hold for two weeks after news this week that two of the players had tested positive for COVID-19.
“All players, coaches and staff are considered close contacts and are therefore subject to the mandatory 14-day quarantine period under Alberta Health Services’ Order 05-2020,” the team said in a release. “Hockey Canada will continue to abide by all protocols and guidelines set forth by the government of Alberta and Alberta Health Services … and will put a pause on all camp activities until the quarantine period is complete.”
The team has not named the infected players, who tested positive Monday. All camp activities were suspended then. In all, 47 players had been invited to the camp to determine the roster for the annual tournament to be held starting Dec. 25 in Edmonton.
It was a larger number of players than usual participating in part because most of the players had not skated in meaningful games since March, when the pandemic struck. A non-core member of the staff tested positive for COVID-19 on Nov. 21.
The team got in two of its three intrasquad games. It’s doubtful the full slate of six exhibition games planned against university all-stars will go ahead as scheduled. Hockey Canada had deemed those games to be essential for cuts and to get the players up to speed. The team is scheduled to move camp to Edmonton on Dec. 13 to begin defence of its gold medal.
It is believed there are a pair of backup plans — one for February, one for April — for the world juniors if the pandemic delays its start. Alberta is now considered one of Canada’s hot spots.
Earlier Wednesday, the International Ice Hockey Federation announced that all 26 on-ice officials for the tournament would be from Canada to reduce risk of the spread of the virus. Normally the officiating pool would be drawn from all 10 of the participating countries.
“Every additional person we bring into the bubble is a risk, so we decided to source the officials locally in order to reduce the risk to travelling personnel and teams,” IIHF officiating manager Danny Kurmann said in a statement.