The hockey world was disheartened when dreams of seeing Sidney Crosby play with Connor McDavid dissipated after the NHL pulled out of the Olympics, but fans found a silver lining knowing some of the game’s future stars were lining up for both Canada and USA.
Now it appears one of those phenoms might not even cross the pond.
Jake Sanderson is currently in COVID-19 protocol in Los Angeles – putting his unforeseen Olympic opportunity in jeopardy. Sanderson, along with Team USA teammate Matty Beniers and Canadians Owen Power and Mason McTavish, is one of the top prospects from the cancelled 2022 World Juniors set to play in the Games.
While losing Sanderson’s services, even if temporarily, is detrimental to its blue line, Team USA could have a larger problem on its hands as two skaters who travelled with the team tested positive upon arrival in Beijing.
Veterans Steven Kampfer and Andy Miele, both of whom played in the NHL, are isolating in the Beijing athletes’ village.
“We’re optimistic,” American coach David Quinn after the team’s first practice in Beijing on Friday. “It’s a day-to-day situation with these guys. We expect them to be back. It’s the world we live in. Every team’s going through it, and we’re no different.”
USA Hockey says it’s hopeful Sanderson will be able to rejoin the team within a week.
The Ottawa Senators prospect has no shortage of accolades as a 2020 fifth-overall NHL Draft pick. Last year, the Whitefish, MT., native helped USA capture World Junior gold, and this year he captained the team before the tournament was called off. He’s currently a top player in NCAA hockey with 24 points in 21 games for the University of North Dakota Fighting Hawks and one of the favourites to win the Hobey Baker Award as college hockey’s best men’s player.
The American men’s team begins competition on Feb. 10 against China, a game it should have no trouble winning whether or not Sanderson suits up, before facing off against Eric Staal and the Canadians on Feb. 11.
The Olympic men’s hockey tournament knockout rounds are scheduled to take place from Feb. 14 to 20, with the gold medal game to cap things off. Team USA is seeking redemption from its 2018 performance in Pyeongchang, when it was knocked out by the Czech Republic in the tournament’s quarterfinals.
More from Yahoo Sports
Source: Yahoo Sports