Charlottetown Islanders will do 'whatever it takes' to resume games

The Charlottetown Islanders say they will play by the COVID-19 rules when their season resumes in Cape Breton on Friday.

Islanders playing in Cape Breton on Friday, next home game Feb. 3

The Charlottetown Islanders practise Wednesday at the Eastlink Centre as they prepare for their game Friday in Cape Breton against the Eagles. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

The Charlottetown Islanders say they will play by the COVID-19 rules when their season resumes in Cape Breton on Friday.

That means they will have to work-isolate when they return to P.E.I. or face a penalty much stiffer than a two-minute minor.

Islanders GM-coach Jim Hulton said teams in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League are already used to strict protocols when it comes to COVID-19 as it is.

"We've had daily symptom checks, daily temperature checks. Our players and our staffs are held to a much higher standard than anybody else in society at this point right now," he said.

Islanders captain Brett Budgell says the team is excited to get back to game action. (Tony Davis/CBC)

The league announced Monday it would resume play between Charlottetown and the two Nova Scotia teams — the Halifax Mooseheads and Cape Breton Eagles.

The three teams in New Brunswick remain sidelined as the province deals with a higher number of positive COVID-19 cases.

On Tuesday, P.E.I.'s Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Heather Morrison met with Islanders officials to discuss the health measures. In her regular briefing earlier in the day, she said the Islanders, like any business, could apply to work-isolate, meaning players and staff could go back and forth from the rink, but must self-isolate at all other times.

Players taking online classes

Players would have to miss in-person classes at school, but team officials said they already take courses online so that would not be affected.

They said players who are staying with billet families can self-isolate at that location, staying in a separate room and following the same rules as others who work-isolate when they come back to the province.

The players will be tested for COVID-19 when they return to the province, as will all visiting teams. Visiting teams must also follow work-isolation rules.

The Islanders will have to work-isolate when they return to P.E.I., meaning they can only leave their homes to travel back and forth to the rink. (Julien Lecacheur/Radio-Canada)

Friday's game will be the team's first since Nov. 18, when travel restrictions between the Atlantic provinces were reimposed. Under Nova Scotia's public health measures, no fans will be allowed in the arena. 

The Islanders' next home game is Feb. 3. A decision has not yet been made on whether fans will be allowed in attendance.

First place

The team is in first place in the QMJHL, and the players are looking forward to competing again.

"Our team is excited to get the league back on again and playing some hockey," said Islanders captain Brett Budgell.

"It's a good feeling and we're going to do whatever it takes to get back on the ice. So if that means quarantining for the rest of the year I think every guy in that dressing room is willing to do that."

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With files from Tony Davis