The IIHF is officially shutting down the 2022 World Junior Championships due to COVID-19, announcing the decision on Wednesday.
Per the IIHF, the decision came following a positive case for a player on Team Russia. In turn, Russia had to forfeit its game against Slovakia on Wednesday. The USA-Switzerland and Finland-Czechia games were also called off due to positive cases.
Ultimately, upon recommendation from the World Juniors COVID-19 Medical Group and the IIHF Medical Committee, the IIHF canceled the remainder of the tournament.
The Daily Faceoff’s Chris Peters of Daily was the first to report the news. The World Junior Championships officially kicked off on Boxing Day in Alberta.
“Together with the teams, we came into this event with full confidence in the COVID-19 protocols put in place by the IIHF, the LOC, Alberta Helath, Alberta Health Services and the Public Healthy Agency of Canada,” IIHF president Luc Tardif said in the official press release. “The ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant forced us to readjust our protocols almost immediately upon arrival to attempt to stay ahead of any potential spread. This included daily testing and the team quarantine requirement when positive cases were confirmed.
“We owed it to the participating teams to do our best to create the conditions necessary for this event to work,” he added. “Unfortunately, this was not enough. We now have to take some time and focus on getting all players and team staff back home safely.”
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The Washington Capitals had one prospect competing in the tournament, with Oskar Magnusson lacing ’em up for Sweden. Sweden went 2-0 to open their World Juniors run, with Magnusson named Sweden’s best player in their opener. The 19-year-old didn’t find the scoresheet, but had quite a few good looks and was solid on the backcheck.
A number of top prospects from across the league were also playing, including Owen Power, Cole Perfetti and more. The NHL’s likely 2022 and 2023 first overall draft picks in Shane Wright and Connor Bedard were also playing.