This weekend’s series between the No. 1 University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team (1-1-0) and No. 3 Minnesota (3-1-0) has been postponed, the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) announced via press release Friday morning.
“The postponement was necessitated after positive COVID-19 tests were found within the Badgers’ program,” the release said. “No make-up date has been determined at this time.”
While there is no confirmation on the source, it is important to realize Wisconsin played at Ohio State last weekend, another team whose next series was postponed. Ohio State was not scheduled to play this week, but was supposed to play next weekend against Minnesota before their COVID-19 outbreak forced them to postpone.
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Because Ohio State postponed more than a week out, it means Wisconsin’s next scheduled series against Minnesota-Duluth Dec. 11-12 is in serious jeopardy of also being postponed.
While neither the WCHA nor a Wisconsin representative specified how many players or staff tested positive, the WCHA requires at least 15 players — including one goalie — for a team to play a game. Wisconsin has 20 skaters and four goalies, meaning this outbreak took a healthy chunk out of the Badgers.
The WCHA requires all players that test positive to sit out of competition for 21 days. In addition, they must undergo a screening to monitor the effects the virus had on the athlete’s heart.
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While it is not confirmed how many of the tests were positive and how many were just close contacts, athletes deemed close contacts are still required to sit out a minimum of 14 days, regardless of whether or not they test negative.
Unlike in football, the Big Ten did a great job scheduling both men’s and women’s hockey. They only scheduled part of the season, leaving room for postponements to be played on either side of Christmas break. This makes it extremely likely these games will eventually be played, even if it is not this weekend.
This is now the second series postponed this weekend in the WCHA, after Bemidji State was forced to postpone their series against Minnesota State due to COVID-19 return to play protocols.