US National Junior Hockey Team Quarantined, Forfeits Game to Switzerland

US National Junior Hockey Team Quarantined, Forfeits Game to Switzerland US National Junior Hockey Team Quarantined, Forfeits Game to Switzerland (Dmitrijs Dmitrijevs | Dreamstime.com

By Charles Kim | Tuesday, 28 December 2021 06:03 PM

Two players testing positive for COVID-19 forced the International Ice Hockey Federation’s U20 Junior Hockey Team USA into quarantine Tuesday, requiring it to forfeit its preliminary game against Switzerland in accordance with IIHF rules, the organization announced.

“The result of the game will be recorded as a 1-0 win for Switzerland by forfeit in accordance with the IIHF Rule Book,” the announcement on the IIHF website said. “The team’s quarantine status will be evaluated later to determine whether it will be able to compete in its next preliminary round game, scheduled for Dec. 29 against Sweden.”

According to ESPN, the team was placed into a “mandated quarantine” before the scheduled preliminary game against Switzerland in the IIHF World Junior Championship tournament in Alberta, Canada.

"We're extremely disappointed, especially for our players,” U.S. national junior team general manager John Vanbiesbrouck said to ESPN. “We're operating in an ever-changing landscape and that's very challenging. We've followed the tournament protocol from the outset and will continue to do everything we can to ensure our players have the opportunity to compete at the World Junior Championship."

The team will be reevaluated Wednesday for its next scheduled game against Sweden.

Team USA, which is defending its gold medal in the tournament, defeated Slovakia Sunday 3-2 in its first Group B game, with the top four teams in each group advancing to the playoffs.

But COVID-19 is not just impacting the men’s tournament.

The Associated Press reported Monday that USA Hockey is asking the IIHF to postpone the women’s U18 world championship, which is scheduled to take place in Sweden in January.

“I believe the IIHF is trying to do what they can to make sure that if they run events they are as safe as possible for every participant,” USA Hockey executive director Pat Kelleher told the AP Monday. “However, we have requested they look at the U-18s specifically and see what they can do to at least postpone it and explore options with the countries that are involved with that event.”

It is the second consecutive year that the IIHF canceled all January tournaments due to the COVID pandemic through the recommendation of the organization’s medical committee, the AP reported.

The organization is the governing body for international ice hockey and started in France in 1908, according to the organization.

It has 82 members throughout the world, with each member regulating the sport in their individual countries.

It presides over all levels of the sport from U18 (under 18) to the Olympic Games, controlling the international rule book, processing international player transfers, and dictating official guidelines for the sport, the organization said.