ESPN’s Greg Wyshynski has just reported that the Metropolitan Riveters are pulling out of Lake Placid due to “health and safety concerns” related to COVID-19.
The Metropolitan Riveters are pulling out of the @NWHL Lake Placid tournament due to “health and safety concerns” related to COVID-19, multiple sources tell ESPN. Story to come.— Greg Wyshynski (@wyshynski) January 28, 2021
Riveters head coach Ivo Mocek did not return to the bench after the second intermission in the team’s game against the Minnesota Whitecaps on Jan. 26, 2021. It appears that forward Rebecca Russo also left the bench during the game. There’s no word on whether or not this is related to the Riveters’ early exit from Lake Placid, but there are definitely some warning flags here.
"Unfortunately, Ivo was unavailable partway through the game." Was that quote. I may be mistaken about when he left the bench. Apologies for any confusion. https://t.co/BrYqPEai9I— Mike Murphy (@DigDeepBSB) January 27, 2021
Yesterday afternoon, the NWHL released a statement announcing a change in its schedule. The Buffalo Beauts were originally scheduled to play the Riveters last night at 8:30 p.m. ET but the Toronto Six replaced the Rivs as Buffalo’s opponent. That game between the Beauts and Riveters, which was rescheduled for tonight at 5:30 p.m., will now never be played.
From the league’s statement on the change in schedule:
“The change has been made in line with the NWHL’s medical protocols prioritizing the health and safety of all participants during this season in Lake Placid.”
It should be noted that this is not entirely unprecedented in the world we currently live in. In June, the Orlando Pride were forced to pull out of the NWSL Challenge Cup when six players and four members of staff tested positive before the tournament. More recently, the NHL has had to change its schedule and postpone games of the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes as a result of testing.
NWHL plans to continue tournament with five teams
In a statement, the NWHL announced that Thursday’s planned game between the Connecticut Whale and Minnesota Whitecaps would be postponed; games are scheduled to resume Saturday, Jan. 30.
From the league’s release:
The decision to withdraw the Riveters from competition follows the League’s medical protocols established for the season.
The priority of the NWHL is the health of our players, coaches, officials and staff. The season will move forward with five teams, and the League will continue to strictly adhere to the medical protocols to protect everyone’s safety.
The Riveters and health officials have collaborated to bring every member of the team home in a way that ensures the safety for all parties.