Northern Exposure: COVID Ruins World Juniors, Winter Classic Could Be Coldest Ever

The post Northern Exposure: COVID Ruins World Juniors, Winter Classic Could Be Coldest Ever appeared first on SportsHandle.

Each Thursday, Sports Handle will recap all the top sports betting news in Canada, highlight the Game of the Week, and take a look ahead at some of the most intriguing Canadian games to bet on over the weekend.

Our top Canadian sports stories this week

Game of the week

NHL Winter Classic: St. Louis Blues @ Minnesota Wild from Target Field, Jan. 1

Canadian hockey fans always look forward to outdoor NHL games, even if the contest doesn’t involve any teams from Canada. The St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild are the participants in this year’s Winter Classic, and they’re preparing for frosty conditions at Target Field in Minnesota.

Forecasts are calling for a high of -19 degrees Celsius on Saturday, with those temperatures expected to get even colder by evening puck drop. If the forecast holds, it will be the coldest outdoor game ever played by the NHL. In 2003, the Heritage Classic between the Montreal Canadiens and Edmonton Oilers was played with temperatures of -17 degrees Celsius in Edmonton.

The NHL and operations staff at Target Field are anticipating the cold weather, so the benches, penalty box, and even the ice will be heated for the game. Fans in attendance will also be gifted hand warmers and can enjoy a revised menu that will include an assortment of soups and chili to help keep them toasty. The NHL is keeping a close eye on the forecast, and there is a possibility the game may need to be postponed if it gets too extreme.

As of Thursday, odds were not yet available for the game through Canadian sportsbooks, but there are some interesting betting trends to consider. Road teams have dominated in past Winter Classic matchups, amassing a 9-2-1 record. Low scoring has also been trendy at the Winter Classic, with five or fewer total goals being scored in eight of the 12 previous matchups.

World Juniors canceled

Well, it was fun while it lasted. The International Ice Hockey Federation made the decision Wednesday to cancel the World Junior Hockey Championships after a COVID-19 outbreak caused the forfeiture of the third game of the tournament.

“The ongoing spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant forced us to readjust our protocols almost immediately upon arrival to attempt to stay ahead of any potential spread,” IIHF President Luc Tardif said in a statement. “This included daily testing and the team quarantine requirement when positive cases were confirmed.”

With Russia, Czechia, and the United States already forced into mandatory quarantines throughout the group stage due to confirmed COVID cases, the integrity of the 11-day, 10-country tournament held in Alberta, Canada, was compromised. There is hope, however, that the tournament could be resumed sometime in June of next year, but nothing is confirmed at this point.

Canada, which was favored at +115 to win the tournament, was 2-0 in group play and had scored a whopping 17 goals in those two contests prior to the cancellation of the event.

NHL still dealing with COVID postponements

The NHL’s original plan to resume play Dec. 27 was pushed back to Dec. 28, but it’s still dealing with postponements due to COVID on a nightly basis. In an attempt to get back some normalcy, the NHL and its players’ association modified the league’s COVID policy Wednesday, cutting the isolation time from 10 days to five days for vaccinated players and staff after a positive test.

However, due to tighter COVID restrictions north of the border, this modified policy does not apply to players or staff from Canadian teams, who still need to isolate for 10 days. The NHL has postponed many home games for Canadian teams over the last few weeks due to capacity restrictions at their respected venues, with the hopes of rescheduling them later in the season, when restrictions could again be dropped with a decline in cases.

The post Northern Exposure: COVID Ruins World Juniors, Winter Classic Could Be Coldest Ever appeared first on SportsHandle.