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AJHL’s Canmore Eagles dealing with COVID-19 outbreak

A pair of Lethbridge Hurricanes teammates are playing in the AJHL for the Calgary Canucks and Canmore Eagles. Global News

The Canmore Eagles have been hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The AJHL team said 16 of its members have tested positive for the virus, including head coach Andrew Milne.

I’m not shocked it was as high as it was because we’re so close with one another in such tight quarters, quite regularly,” Milne said. 

The number does not include family members and billets who have also fallen ill to the coronavirus.

READ MORE: AJHL moves to pay model for sustainability during COVID-19 pandemic

The Eagles’ head coach said the team stayed within their bubble for practices, games and social gathers — so their situation is an example how quickly the virus can spread.

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“Once we did get a couple cases, it just spread like wildfire,” Milne said. “That’s something that everybody needs to be aware of, and do their job being diligent.”

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Milne said his wife and one of his three children tested positive for COVID as well. He said the virus has had an impact on his health.

“Throughout the course of 10 days or nine days now, it’s been a lot of aches and pains to start, and chills; headaches were pretty bad for the first couple days,” he said.

“[I] ended up having a runny nose for a couple days and overall just feeling really weak and sort of unable to have a lot of energy. And that’s kind of been the one that’s been constant.”

READ MORE: Hockey Canada suspends world junior selection camp after positive COVID-19 tests

Milne said some of his players have symptoms, while others have been asymptomatic. He said the team has remained positive through the situation and communicates daily through Zoom.

The Eagles coach would like the AJHL to play out the season if conditions are safe and there is strong protocol in place. He would also be open to a condensed schedule or extended season.

“We’re definitely not going to be taking that step until we know it’s 100 per cent safe for our our community,” he said.

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“We’ve been through a lot here, and so until we get the the green light to the community safe and that we can do it well, we probably won’t be looking to be too aggressive in starting up the season until we know what to say.”

READ MORE: Alberta sports leagues in limbo after additional three-week pause

On Tuesday, Premier Jason Kenney declared a state of public health emergency and extended the temporary shut down to many sports in the province. Leagues may apply for exemptions if they have “well developed COVID safety plans.”

On Wednesday night, the AJHL tweeted that it was putting its season “on pause” because of the new provincial restrictions “until existing limitations are lifted and we are permitted to safely return.”

“The AJHL board of governors will reconvene on Dec. 19 to determine a timeline and updated protocols for return to play.”

The Calgary Canucks, Okotoks Oilers and Drumheller Dragons have also reported positive cases in the past week.