United States’ Matthew Knies (89) is checked by Finland’s Ville Ottavainen (4) during second period IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship exhibition action in Edmonton on Dec. 23. The US team had to forfeit its Tuesday game against the Swiss in Red Deer because of COVID. (File photo from The Canadian Press)

United States’ Matthew Knies (89) is checked by Finland’s Ville Ottavainen (4) during second period IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship exhibition action in Edmonton on Dec. 23. The US team had to forfeit its Tuesday game against the Swiss in Red Deer because of COVID. (File photo from The Canadian Press)

Team USA forfeits World Junior game in Red Deer because of two positive COVID-19 cases

Two US players tested positive for COVID

Team USA was forced to forfeit its Tuesday afternoon game in Red Deer at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships against the Swiss after two American players tested positive for COVID-19.

“Due to a mandated team quarantine following a positive test result of two of its players, Team USA will be unable to participate in its Dec. 28 preliminary game against Switzerland at the 2022 IIHF World Junior Championship,” said the IIHF on Tuesday morning.

“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.”

The game was recorded as a 1-0 win by Switzerland, according to the IIHF rulebook. The Americans, who are the reigning champions, moved to 1-1 at this year’s event with the forfeit. The top four teams in each pool advance to Sunday’s quarterfinal round followed by semifinals Jan. 4 and medal games Jan. 5.

There were no talks of rescheduling the game, according to the IIHF. While no games are scheduled for Saturday, a makeup game can’t be played that day because the Swiss could end up playing games three straight days. That is against IIHF sport regulations, an IIHF spokesman told The Canadian Press.

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

U.S. National Junior Team general manager John Vanbiesbrouck said in a statement that they are “extremely disappointed especially for our players.

“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.”

Teams that travelled to Canada quarantined for two days after their Dec. 15 arrival with just over 5,800 tests conducted on 462 players, staff, and game officials before the tournament opened Sunday, according to the IIHF.

One Finnish player tested positive and was placed into isolation with no others on the team impacted. Two game officials were isolated after testing positive during quarantine.

In their opening game of the tournament, the Swiss were without captain Simon Knak, who tested positive for COVID, in a 4-2 loss to Russia in their first game.

Knak testing positive caused the cancellation of a Swiss-Czechia pre-tournament game. One Austrian player testing positive had that team in quarantine until contact tracing was completed and the team was released to play its first game against Finland on Monday.

Germany was minus a third of its team to start the 2021 world under-20 championship in Edmonton but was able to play games because those players who didn’t test positive had cleared a 10-day quarantine after arriving in Canada.

Team USA last played on Boxing Day, beating Slovakia 3-2 at the Centrium. They still are scheduled to play Sweden at the Centrium on Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. and Russia at the Centrium at 7:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve.

– With files from The Canadian Press.