The Olympics men’s hockey tournament is set to start next week and the U.S. squad is hoping that a talented young defender will be able to join them for the first game. Jake Sanderson is in COVID protocol according to Brad Elliott Schlossman of the Grand Forks Herald and has not yet traveled to Beijing to join the rest of the group. Sanderson remains in Los Angeles, where the team hopes he will provide negative tests to be cleared to travel.
Chris Peters of Daily Faceoff adds that Steven Kampfer and Andy Miele are also in the protocol, though they are already in Beijing and isolating there. Losing both Sanderson and Kampfer would certainly be a big blow to the U.S. squad, as they were expected to carry significant responsibility on the back end.
The fifth-overall pick in 2020, Sanderson is a star for the University of North Dakota and will likely soon be patrolling the blue line of the Ottawa Senators. Still just 19, he missed a chance to secure his second World Junior gold medal when the tournament was canceled earlier this year. He’ll hopefully be going for Olympic gold instead, though his status is still very unclear with just a few days before the event is set to begin.
Canada meanwhile has canceled practice for a second consecutive day according to Stephen Whyno of the Associated Press, though no explanation was given at this point.