Southern Alberta Newspapers
Three players on the Coaldale Copperheads have tested positive for COVID-19, prompting the cancellation of this weekend’s pair of games against the Medicine Hat Cubs.
Cubs president Troy Sandau says the exposure took place prior to last weekend’s games between Medicine Hat and Coaldale. However, the three players who tested positive did not take part in those games, and there are currently no positive cases on the Cubs.
“It wasn’t related to the actual game, it was outside the game,” said Sandau. “But with the AHS rep out that way and the minister of health, they’ve advised to quarantine Coaldale’s team until Nov. 11.”
Sandau added one player on the Cubs was tested for precautionary measures – and those results came back negative – after having his helmet removed during a game.
“That little bit of protective barrier was taken off, so just for peace of mind the individual got tested which came back negative,” said Sandau.
“We’re doing our due diligence to keep our players safe. Like the new board said at the beginning of all this, first and foremost is the health and safety of the players.”
Copperheads head coach and general manager Doug Paisley says all three of his players were tested between last Thursday and Sunday and none were experiencing symptoms as of Thursday.
“No symptoms and everybody feels great,” he said. “They never had any symptoms, so the young guys are scratching their heads.”
However, since one of the players who tested positive had practised with the team within 48 hours prior to his test, the Copperheads must remain in isolation until Nov. 11, with practices scheduled to resume Nov. 12.
“They all have to self-isolate. If they don’t have any symptoms, which none of them do, then there’s no testing required,” said Paisley.
“We got clear concise direction from AHS on what we had to do, and that was all forwarded out to the players and the league, and shared with Medicine Hat.”
Paisley added the other two players tested positive over the weekend, but were not in close proximity with either team during that time.
“The interesting thing is none of these three contracted anything from the team. They were all outside sources,” said Paisley. “We’ve really tried to follow protocols to a T. We temperature-check every player before they come in the rink, we hand sanitize, we mask up.
“I guess it is what it is. We’re living through a pandemic and doing the best we can.”
The Cubs are slated to return to the ice Nov. 22 against the Strathmore Wheatland Kings, meaning a makeup game cannot be squeezed in while accommodating the league’s mandatory 14-day break from competition when changing opponents. Paisley says the teams remain committed to rescheduling when the opportunity presents itself.
“That’s what we hope to do. It’s tough with the COVID season, because the schedule is full and we’re already taking 14-day breaks,” said Paisley. “If we can reschedule them and it works out, then we’ll do that at the end of the season.”
Sandau added in the event that games cannot be rescheduled, the team could end up splitting the available points with a win apiece.
“We’ve got a few options,” said Sandau. “We’re working with the league, and Doug and Kelly (Wiebe, director of operations) in Coaldale, to see what’s there for both clubs.”
The Cubs and Copperheads split their first two games of what was planned to be a four-game series to open the Heritage Junior Hockey League season. Coaldale won the opener 5-2 at home on Oct. 31, then the Cubs rallied from behind for a 5-4 shootout victory in their home opener on Nov. 1.