Hours before the Michigan hockey team was supposed to take the ice in Fargo, N.D., for its first game of the NCAA Tournament regional, it was announced that the Wolverines would be withdrawing from the competition due to a positive COVID-19 test. The news, first broken on Twitter by College Hockey News and later confirmed by a team spokesperson, put an end to Michigan’s season.
The Wolverines, who ended the season with a 15-10-1 record, were scheduled to play Minnesota-Duluth — the reigning NCAA champions — this afternoon. Michigan is the third team to pull out of the tournament, following St. Lawrence and Notre Dame.
“I’m devastated for these players,” Michigan coach Mel Pearson said in a statement. “These student-athletes have done a wonderful job all year of making sacrifices to get to this point of the year. It’s unfortunate. I don’t completely understand the final decision but I have to respect it.
“They’ve given so much and to get this opportunity taken away from them, it’s hard to swallow. I know it’s just a game, but it’s extremely important to these young men. It’s two years in a row now we’ve been denied an opportunity to compete in the national championship. It has quite sunk in yet.”
According to Pearson, Michigan hasn’t had a positive case thus far this season, though, this is the fourth COVID-related cancellation for the Wolverines, the other three occurring during the Michigan athletic department’s two-week pause.