It started on Tuesday when word that the scheduled game between Team USA and Switzerland was on the ropes due to a pair of American players testing positive for COVID in Red Deer, Alberta.
Soon, it was official. Per protocols and procedures established by the International Ice Hockey Federation before the start of the 2022 World Junior Championship, USA-Switzerland was not merely postponed, but canceled. With two positive test results (a goalie and forward were asymptomatic) USA forfeited the game against the Swiss, going into the books as a 1-0 loss. Suddenly, the next game against Sweden on Wednesday, Dec. 29 was in jeopardy. Even though the entire team was tested and quarantined, any more positives would result in another forfeiture.
After so much work and sacrifice, all of the sudden, the shadow of two losses in games not even played hung over the defending gold medal champion American team. It couldn’t get any worse for Team USA's gold medal defense, it seemed.
Until it did.
The next dominoes fell in rapid fashion, with positive COVID results on the Czech side negating Czechia-Finland, and then Russia-Slovakia got scrubbed with positives flaring up on Team Russia.
Within hours, it was all over.
Thanks to the fine reporting by prospect analyst Chris Peters, we saw it all unfold in real-time. The IIHF executive committee met this afternoon to go over options and determine the world’s best under-20 showcase of junior-eligible players from across the globe, and the decision came down to cancel the entire tournament.