Young Lions enter ‘ice bubble’ after slippery start to Canada world champs journey

The players and staff have had to quarantine in Finland prior to departure, and then have four more days of quarantine in Edmonton before training starts on 18th December.

File picture of Young Lions player in team off-ice kit / Credit: Leijonat

Finland’s u20 men’s ice hockey team have arrived in Edmonton Canada to enter a coronavirus ‘bubble’ ahead of this year’s World Championship Tournament.

But the Young Lions, who were champions in 2016 and 2019, started their journey on Sunday with a slippery start at Helsinki Airport.

The Finns were booked on a flight along with the Swedish and Russian teams, but the plane chartered by tournament organisers wasn’t big enough for all the luggage. It was the same problem that plagued the Czech, Slovak and Austrian teams on the plane they shared from Vienna airport – lots of gear but not enough space on board.

Both planes eventually managed to take off for their destinations a few hours late with tournament organisers reportedly arranging a cargo plane to transport the excess luggage.

However, due to the small size of aircraft not only did the teams have to make two stopovers en route to Edmonton, but there was also no practical way to ensure continued social distancing on board.

“The World Junior travel fiasco eliminates any illusion that no expense was too great in the name of health and safety” ESPN hockey reporter Chris Peters writes on Twitter.

“The players and staff are assuming the majority of risk to make this happen.”

Strict quarantine rules in hockey bubble

The Young Lions, and other participating teams, already had to quarantine for a week in Finland before starting their travel, and then must also quarantine for four days in Canada before the start of training on 18th December.

During the testing process there were no positive results on the Finnish team, for players or coaching staff, although Sweden lost a number of players and backroom staff who tested positive for Covid-19.

“The situation in Sweden is unfortunate, but this is what pre-testing is all about: when asymptomatic plaintiffs are found, there should be no people on the trip who are infecting others” says the Young Lions team manager Kimmo Oikarinen.

This year’s World Championship tournament begins on Christmas Day 25th December and Finland faces Germany, Slovakia, Switzerland and hosts Canada in Group A games.