Canadian hockey team plays with masks on at Beijing Olympics

Feb 7 2022, 7:32 am

Hockey players aren’t any strangers to wearing masks while playing.

But Olympic athletes playing hockey in KN95 masks? That’s definitely a new one.

A COVID-19 outbreak within the ROC (Russian Olympic Committee) women’s hockey roster earlier in the tournament caused some uneasiness amongst the Canadian team, with six players having tested positive.

After both teams warmed up maskless, Canada initially refused to take the ice for puck drop while waiting ROC’s chief medical officer to release their COVID-19 test results.

What followed was an odd hour-long delay, with Canada waiting in their dressing room while ROC waited out on the ice and their bench.

Canada requested ROC take the ice in N95 masks. ROC said they would, but requested the Canadians do the same. Both masked-up teams eventually took the ice, though many media members and fans — ourselves included — were left wondering exactly what the details of the delay entailed.

Once the game got underway, it was just about business as usual for the Canadians.

Sarah Fillier and Sarah Nurse scored in the first period for Canada, with Jamie Lee and Erin Ambrose adding second period markers. Anna Shokhina scored ROC’s first goal of the game, which was actually the first goal a Russian team has ever scored against against Canada in Olympic women’s hockey.

But the third period added an additional wrinkle: ROC took their masks off, while the Canadians kept them on.

Hockey Canada eventually said that “prior to the third period, both teams received the necessary negative COVID-19 test results. The teams were given the option to remove their masks for the final period, but Canada’s players chose to finish the game with masks on.” 

Before the third period, Associated Press writers John Wawrow and James Ellingsworth reported that ROC was “accusing the IIHF of changing COVID-19 rules on the fly.”

But it didn’t have much of an effect on the game’s result: Rebecca Johnston and Marie-Philip Poulin added third period goals, to make the final score 6-1 in favour of Canada.

Up next for Canada is a matchup against the United States in a battle for first place preliminary round positioning in Pool A. Puck drop is set for 11:10 pm ET/ 8:10 pm PT.

No word on the mask status for that game, but it’s likely we haven’t heard the last of this story.

Adam LaskarisAdam Laskaris

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