After two weeks of doing very little at the World Junior selection camp in Red Deer, former Vancouver Giants defenceman Bowen Byram was glad to be back on the ice again after a COVID lockdown shut down the process of picking the next Team Canada.
“A lot of video games, tried to read a bit, write,” is how Byram described life at the camp on Tuesday, Dec. 8 during an online question-and-answer session.
“We were all in our own rooms.”
Camp was halted on Nov. 26 after two players and one staffer tested positive for COVID-19.
Ultimately, five players were sent home as “unfit to continue to play based on return-to-play protocols,” according to Hockey Canada.
“It was a long 14 days,” Byram commented.
Now, there is that much less time to shake off the rust and show what he can do during intrasquad games to win a spot on Team Canada, but Byram was philosophical.
“It is what it is,” Byram remarked.
Gotta roll with the punches.”
Byram, the two-time reigning MVP of the Langley-based Vancouver Giants, now playing in the NHL, is one of six returnees invited to the camp who helped Canada capture gold at the 2020 World Juniors.
With him is Giants head coach Michael Dyck who will be serving as an assistant coach with Canada at the World Juniors which will operate under the same bubble concept that was successfully deployed by the NHL and the NBA.
Any player, coach or team staff member who tested positive for the virus after Nov. 29 is ineligible to enter Edmonton’s “bubble.”
A number of European players won’t be attending as a result.
The 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship begins on Christmas Day with three games before Canada kicks off its tournament schedule on Dec. 26 against Germany.