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This article was published 15/3/2020 (260 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Two members of the Winnipeg Ice have been tested for COVID-19 and are awaiting the results of those tests, GM Matt Cockell of the Western Hockey League team confirmed Sunday afternoon.

The remainder of the club’s 22-man roster has been cleared to return to their homes. In the wake of the widening pandemic, the WHL and Canada’s two other major-junior leagues announced a pause to the 2019-20 season last week.

The two Ice players were identified as symptomatic and are the only members of the team or staff to be tested so far.

"If those tests are negative, they’ll return home," said Cockell. "If they’re not, then we’ll proceed with them with the guidance and advice that we receive. Both players have been in self-isolation for a few days now."

At least four other WHL teams — the Everett Silvertips, Kamloops Blazers, Prince George Cougars and Lethbridge Hurricanes — have directed their players to return home.

The Ice had five games remaining when the regular season was halted. Cockell would not comment on the possibility of the league restarting the season at some point.

"I think that everybody is committed to doing the right thing," said Cockell. "I think what’s transpired is much bigger than sports and all of our players and staff understand that we have our role to play, both individually and as a team. A leadership role in the community to set an example and follow the advice of people that are certainly a lot smarter than myself."

"We’re fully supporting Manitoba Health, all the medical professionals and certainly trying to support the community as best we can."

Meanwhile, the Canadian Junior Hockey League, which serves as the umbrella organization of the country’s Junior A leagues including the Manitoba Junior Hockey League, announced a decision to cancel the remainder of the season, including the Centennial Cup national championship scheduled for Portage La Prairie in May.

"The last 72 hours or so has been very fluid," said Cockell. "Decisions are being made quickly and at the forefront for us has been making sure that we’ve been getting timely information to our staff, to the parents and most importantly, the health and well-being of the players has been top of mind.

"That’s really where our focus has been. Our doctors and medical team have been fantastic and great at getting information to the CHL and Western Hockey League. They’ve been able to share it and I think that all of the decisions being made are really focused on what the the medical community is providing.

"At the heart of that is social distancing, avoiding large gathering places and groups and have a little more of an isolated lifestyle."


Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

Mike Sawatzky
Sports Reporter

Mike has been working on the Free Press sports desk since 2003.

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