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Victoria Royals shut down by WHL COVID-19 protocols

“We are in isolation, out of an abundance of caution, and awaiting direction from the league."
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The Victoria Royals have joined the growing list of junior hockey teams being shut down for COVID-19 protocols with seven players on the list. The Royals ceased hockey-related team activities Wednesday night with the scheduled games Friday and Saturday in Prince George against the Cougars postponed as the result of “multiple ­players and staff” being added to the WHL COVID-19 protocol list due to exhibiting symptoms or ­having tested positive for COVID-19.

“It’s been an eventful day for sure,” said Royals GM and head coach Dan Price.

The Regina Pats are also affected with their scheduled games Friday and Saturday against the Saskatoon Blades postponed. Victoria and Regina joined the Edmonton Oil Kings, Moose Jaw Warriors and Red Deer Rebels, who paused team activities Tuesday as a result of multiple players and staff being added to the WHL COVID-19 protocol list. The shutdowns are normally for five days from date of announcement.

“We are in isolation, out of an abundance of caution, and awaiting direction from the league,” said Price.

The seven Royals ­players listed under COVID-19 ­protocols, in the WHL weekly report, are Evan Patrician, ­Marcus Almquist, Austin ­Zemlak, Anthony Wilson, Lukas ­Shipley, Reggie Newman and Riley ­Gannon.

The Lethbridge Hurricanes and Swift Current Broncos paused team activities last week under COVID-19 protocols. The WHL also postponed four games in Manitoba this week due to capacity being restricted to 250 for arenas in that province.

“It went from things changing monthly to things changing daily to now things changing hourly,” said Price.

“It’s a very fluid environment. I know that is being used a lot but it really is true. You have to be flexible. Hockey is no different than the rest of society.”

Three other Island junior clubs have also paused hockey operations because of ­COVID-19 protocols. The Victoria ­Grizzlies and Cowichan Valley Capitals of the B.C. Hockey League went under five-day bans from ­playing and practising through Sunday in the case of the ­Capitals and Monday for the Grizzlies. The Grizzlies have had three games postponed and the Capitals two. The Saanich Predators of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League announced Monday they will be pausing team activities through Sunday because of ­COVID-19 protocols, with one game ­postponed.

cdheensaw@timescolonist.com