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UPDATED: KIJHL games postponed after 4 teams report COVID-19 cases

Kelowna, Beaver Valley, Castlegar and Fernie each have infected players
The Beaver Valley Nitehawks and Castlegar Rebels, seen here during a game in December, are among the four KIJHL teams to report positive COVID-19 cases on their rosters. Photo: Jim Bailey

The Kootenay International Junior Hockey League says COVID-19 cases on four teams have led to the postponement of six games.

The Beaver Valley Nitehawks, Castlegar Rebels, Fernie Ghostriders and Kelowna Chiefs each have positive cases, according to a league announcement Thursday.

The Kelowna Chiefs told Black Press Media that nine of its players have tested positive, and more are expected throughout the week. Kelowna’s game Friday at home to the North Okanagan Knights has been postponed.

Castlegar Rebels president Mike Johnstone said eight-to-10 players are exhibiting symptoms. He added not all of them have been tested for COVID-19 as current Interior Heath guidelines don’t allow for testing of double-vaccinated individuals without other risk factors.

“It spread quite quickly around our room and we wanted to cut it off and limit exposure to our players, staff, volunteers and opponents, so the decision was made to cancel the games,” said Johnstone.

Nitehawks president Stephen Piccolo said six players had tested positive and are currently in isolation.

“Omicron is hitting everyone hard it looks like,” said Piccolo. “And I mean everybody — our fan base, the games that we can’t have, and we’re hoping it doesn’t carry into another season.”

Other games to be rescheduled include:

• Friday, Jan. 7: Beaver Valley Nitehawks at Castlegar Rebels; Grand Forks Border Bruins at Fernie Ghostriders

• Saturday, Jan. 8: Castlegar Rebels at Nelson Leafs; Fernie Ghostriders at Columbia Valley Rockies

• Sunday, Jan. 9: Golden Rockets at Beaver Valley Nitehawks

The infections come despite the KIJHL’s COVID-19 policy, which required every player and staff member to have received two doses of vaccine prior to the start of the season in October.

The Nitehawks were fined $2,500 in December and had their head coach suspended for eight games when it was revealed two of their players had begun the season not fully vaccinated.

With files from Jen Zielinski in Kelowna, Betsy Kline in Castlegar and Jim Bailey in Trail.