A relieved, and reprieved, Nanaimo Clippers club will return to the ice today to meet the Victoria Grizzlies in a B.C. Hockey League matinee in Port Alberni.
The Clippers halted all team activities, including postponing Thursday night’s scheduled game against the Alberni Valley Bulldogs, due to preliminary positive tests among the team for COVID-19.
The rapid tests showed positive but they were confirmed negative in all cases after follow-up testing using the gold-standard polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test.
The Clippers had paused all team activities and were isolating out of an abundance of caution, but were cleared Friday to resume practice and game play.
“The Nanaimo Clippers, like all the BCHL teams, have been diligently following public health orders to eliminate any potential for exposure to COVID-19,” the club said in a statement.
“Unfortunately, a news report was released [Thursday] suggesting that a number of Nanaimo Clippers had COVID-19.
“That report was based on inconclusive testing, but on further testing, it’s clear that no Nanaimo Clipper player or staff member had or has COVID-19.”
The Clippers are 4-2 in the pandemic-abbreviated BCHL season.
“The Nanaimo Clippers want to assure the City of Nanaimo, its billets and its fans that all safety protocols are being followed with great vigour by all the players and personnel of the Clippers,” the team added.
“It would be extremely unlikely that any of the players or personnel of the Clippers would contact COVID-19 given the high level of diligence being undertaken by the team.
“We at the Clippers take great comfort in believing that we are running a high-level program in a safe manner.”
Each BCHL team is playing 20 games. All the games in the Island Division are being played at Weyerhaeuser Arena in the Port Alberni hub, without fans.
On the ice Friday night, the Grizzlies got goals from 10 players to defeat the Cowichan Valley Capitals 10-0.
The scorers were Luc Pelletier, Ellis Rickwood, Nicholas O’Hanisain, Chase McInnis, Henri Schreifels, Tanner Attew, Matteo Turrin, Andrew Amousse, Tyler Waram and Devon deVries. Carter Woodside made 18 saves for the shutout.
The Grizzlies lead the division at 6-2. The Bulldogs are 2-2-2 and the Cowichan Valley Capitals 2-5-1.
The Bulldogs and Capitals meet tonight following the reinstated matinee between the Grizzlies and Clippers.