QMJHL’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada has 18 positive COVID-19 tests

Eighteen members of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League’s Blainville-Boisbriand Armada have tested positive for COVID-19.

Players and staff have been placed in isolation for 14 days. The team’s activities are suspended indefinitely.

The announcement Wednesday came two days after the Armada suspended in-person activities after learning of one positive test following the first weekend of regular-season play in the QMJHL.

The Sherbrooke Phoenix also suspended in-person activities after playing the Armada twice last weekend.

The QMJHL was the only one of three Canadian major-junior hockey leagues to open play around its traditional start date during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Ontario Hockey League and Western Hockey League have said they hope to start in December.

The Armada’s problems started Monday with the positive test along with an announcement by the Quebec government affecting Blainville-Boisbriand and the Quebec Remparts.

The government announced that team sports are among the activities being barred in Quebec’s COVID-19 “red zones,” which include the greater Montreal area and Quebec City. The Armada are based just over 35 kilometres northwest of Montreal.

“Although our sanitary and medical protocol is very strict and rigorous, we knew that COVID-19 was highly infectious and could eventually hit certain players and team staff members,” QMJHL commissioner Gilles Courteau said in a statement.

“Nevertheless, we are extremely confident that the measures contained in our contingency plan, which is currently deployed, will prove to be very efficient.”

The QMJHL’s schedule this season features only intra-divisional play. The six teams based in the Atlantic provinces do not enter Quebec.

“As hockey players, you want to play games, and I didn’t play a lot last year, so I wanted to play as much as I could this year,” said Chicoutimi Sagueneens centre Hendrix Lapierre, who played two games with his team this past weekend before he was selected 22nd overall by the Washington Capitals in the NHL draft on Tuesday night.

“I feel like it’s kind of an advantage for us to be able to play. I see a lot of those guys in the Ontario League or Western Hockey League just training all the time, but it’s fun. I’m with my teammates. We’re playing games. Yes, we’re training, but we have games, we’re together, we’re bonding. It’s really fun and I feel like it’s a fun process here and definitely really happy to be able to play hockey this year.”

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