COVID Confusion: Canada beats Russians after lengthy delay at Olympics

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After a lengthy delay because of late COVID-19 test results, the Canadian women’s hockey team beat the Russians 6-1 on Monday at the Beijing Olympics.

Canada (3-0) initially declined to leave the locker room because COVID-19 tests taken earlier in the day by the Russian athletes had not yet been processed.

The International Ice Hockey Federation eventually reached a compromise to have players from both teams wear masks, a first at the Beijing Olympics.

“We heard some discussions were being had and that our game would be delayed,” Canada coach Troy Ryan said. “Our coaching staff stayed in the coaches’ room, we updated the players but we really didn’t have any timelines on the delay or how long it would be. Once the delay happened, we told our athletes there would be an opportunity for another warmup, and when we went out for the warmup, we were told both programs agreed to wear masks for the game. We told our girls to put their masks on and it was business as usual.”

Forward Oxana Bratisheva said through a team translator that the Russian team was initially told the game would be postponed before being told it would proceed an hour late.

The Russian players eventually were allowed to remove their masks at the start of the third period after the test results showed no one was positive.

In an email to Sportsnet, an International Ice Hockey Federation spokesperson said: “By the second intermission, it was determined that masks were not necessary and teams had the choice to leave them on or remove them.”

The Canadians kept their masks on.

“I think this group knows how to adapt so well, it’s just another bump in the road and we did what we could,” Canadian defender Erin Ambrose said. “That’s what so special about this group is the ability to make the most of the situation and adjust. I think the hardest part (in the game) was drinking water on the bench. Masks have been part of the process and our training at some point throughout COVID. We would prefer not to wear them, but at the same time we have to stay safe and that’s something we wanted to make sure we were doing, so we did what we had to do.”

Canada was concerned about Russian players who previously tested positive for COVID-19. The Russians (1-2) spent a couple of days before the tournament in isolation.

Canada held out forward Emily Clark for precautionary reasons after her test result came back inconclusive.

It’s not the first time COVID has caused hard feelings at this Olympics.

Polish short-track speedskater Natalia Maliszewska referred to the rules as a “big joke” in a social media post after she was released from quarantine from her event, only to test positive again, Inside The Games reported.

Yahoo reported that Finland men’s hockey coach Jukka Jalonen was upset with the treatment player Marko Anttila was getting in isolation. He said China “won’t respect his human rights.”

Germany also has voiced concern about the isolation facilities.

Sarah Fillier, Ambrose, Jamie Lee Rattray, Marie-Philip Poulin, Rebecca Johnston and Sarah Nurse scored for Canada against Russia.

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Goaltender Emerance Maschmeyer made her first start of the tournament for Canada, which outshot Russia 49-12.

“I was incredibly excited to get going and I had a lot of energy after warmups, so it was challenging to get the news that we were going to be delayed,” Maschmeyer said. “But we had a lot of fun in the locker room. Honestly, with any adversity, this is the best team to be around in any situation. Once we got started, I had a lot of fun playing and to get the first win under my belt was an awesome feeling.”

It was the first game this Olympics in which Canada did no reach double digits in goals. Canada outscored its first two opponents 23-2.

Canada faces the United States (3-0) in the final game of the first round for both teams on Monday at 11:10 p.m. ET.

Denmark 3, Czech Republic 2

Previously winless Denmark (1-2) shook up Group B with a win over the previously winless Czech Republic (2-1). Josephine Jakobsen had a goal and an assist for Denmark, which was outshot 32-17. Denmark is making its Olympic debut.

Tuesday schedule

Canada vs. United States, 11:10 p.m. ET (Monday)
Japan vs. Czech Republic, 3:40 a.m.
Sweden vs. Denmark, 8:10 a.m.
Finland vs. Russia, 8:10 a.m.

Tuesday spotlight

Tuesday marks the final day of the round-robin. All five teams from Group A — Canada, the U.S., Finland, Russia and Switzerland — will be joined by the top three teams from Group B in the quarterfinals.

— With files from The Associated Press

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