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University Cup men’s national hockey tournament goes ahead despite COVID-19 sport shutdown

Jesse Thomas / Global News

UPDATE: U Sports have since cancelled the tournament. 

Despite the fact that many professional and amateur sports leagues have suspended play due to coronavirus concerns, the puck still dropped on the U Sports men’s university ice hockey championships, playing out in Halifax this week.

Five different provinces including New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia are represented at the eight-team tournament.

READ MORE: Women’s hockey world championships in N.S. cancelled due to coronavirus threat

Organizers say teams were consulted before travelling to Nova Scotia, screening if any players or team personnel had travelled out of the country recently.

With most teams going deep in their respected playoffs, players had stayed in Canada, said the tournament’s medical officer of health, Dr. Tina Atkinson.

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“The teams all have trainers with them, so we’ve asked them to keep in touch with their players,” said Atkinson. “If anyone has a fever or cough then they are going to contact me and we’ll run through the screening questions and see if anyone needed to be tested and there is a protocol in place for that.”

The teams competing include the University of New Brunswick, University of Saskatchewan, University of Guelph, University of Ottawa, Acadia University, Western University and the University of British Columbia.

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On Thursday, Western Mustangs upset the No. 2 Saskatchewan Huskies 3-2 in the first quarterfinal.

On Saturday the International Ice Hockey Federation pulled the plug on the women’s world ice hockey championships to be played in Halifax and Truro as a precaution to the spread of the coronavirus around the world.

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READ MORE: COVID-19: Halifax mayor calls cancellation of IIHF hockey championships ‘the right decision’

Atkinson says each event has to be judged on its own merits and says they are in constant contact with the Nova Scotia Health Authority and have been following the authority’s advice.

“We’re confident that we’re following the best advice that we can get for our tournament,” said Atkinson.

Daily monitoring of the players, staff, and personnel will continue.

The U Sports championship wraps up Sunday, Marche 15th with the bronze medal game beginning at 2 p.m. followed by the gold medal final at 7 p.m.

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