World Juniors: Czechia, Russia both forfeit games after players test positive for COVID-19

A second World Juniors game has been forfeited due to COVID-19 after a Czechia player tested positive the night before his team was scheduled to play Finland.

The two teams were slated to play at Rogers Place in Edmonton at noon MT.

“It was surprising news for me, because all our players and members of the implementation team followed the organizers’ regulations and respect the tournament bubble,” head coach Karel Mlejnek told Czech media.

The game is recorded as a 1-0 Finland victory, as per International Ice Hockey Federation rules.

“The team’s quarantine status will be further evaluated to determine whether it will be able to compete in its final preliminary round game, scheduled for 30 December against Austria,” reads a statement from the IIHF.

The forfeit moves Finland into first place in Group A in the group with nine points. The Czechs would finish bottom of the group if they cannot clear COVID-19 protocols before Thursday’s game.

In Group B, Slovakia is now tied with Russia, Switzerland and the United States for second place, all with three points.

The IIHF announced it was expanding the tournament field and cancelling the relegation round playoff this year due to COVID-19 concerns.

Czechia’s lone pre-tournament game was cancelled due to COVID-19 issues with its Team Switzerland opponent.

On Tuesday, the defending World Juniors champions Team USA had to forfeit its scheduled game against Switzerland in Red Deer after two players tested positive.

The team has undergone another round of testing in an effort to ice a team for its game against Sweden on Wednesday night.

There were to be four games played on Wednesday, but only one of those seems certain to happen, the Canada versus Germany game at 5 p.m. MT in Edmonton.

The tournament has a scheduled off-day on New Year’s Day before the quarterfinals begin, with all four games scheduled for Jan. 2, 2022.

The IIHF announced five positive tests in the days before the tournament, including Swiss captain Simon Knak, Austrian Senna Peeters and an unknown Finnish player. Two game officials also tested positive ahead of the opening game.

Last year’s event was played in a bubble, but was still impacted by COVID-19.

A number of Swedish players tested positive in the days before the event, and Team Germany was left with just 14 skaters for its first three games of last year’s tournament, with one player, forward Jakub Borzecki, having to quarantine for the duration of the tournament. 

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