BUFFALO, NY (AP) — The United States Women’s National Hockey Team, which will feature 18 returning Olympians, took to the ice for the first time on Sunday to prepare for the world championships without new coach John Wroblewski, who tested positive for COVID-19.
Wroblewski tested positive on Saturday, USA Hockey spokeswoman Melissa Katz said, and will coach remotely while spending a 10-day period in isolation. If cleared, Wroblewski would travel separately to join the Denmark squad, where the United States will open the 10-nation tournament against Japan on August 25.
Wroblewski was hired May 31 to replace Joel Johnson, who coached the team to a silver medal at the Beijing Winter Games in February. Johnson quit after a year as part of her commitment to coach the University of St. Thomas women’s program.
Assistant coaches Josh Sciba and Shelley Looney will oversee on-ice duties in Wroblewski’s absence. The team is scheduled to travel to Denmark on Thursday after a pre-tournament camp in Buffalo, New York.
“It’s business as usual. I think everyone knows his work,” said striker Hilary Knight, who will compete in her 12th world championship.
“Obviously, it’s a big miss. He’s a new coach and he’s not here for the first week or so. But he tries his best to zoom in and make it work,” she added. “That’s just the name of the game in this tournament. If something happens, you have to be able to adjust and adapt and keep moving forward.
The American team is led by Knight, whose 47 goals and 80 points are team records at the world championships, and Kendall Coyne Schofield, who will be in his ninth appearance in the tournament.
There are only five players who did not compete in Beijing, where the Americans lost 3-2 to Canada. But forward Lacey Eden and goaltender Aerin Frankel were part of the American team that won the silver medal after a 3-2 overtime loss to Canada at the world championships last year.
The only real newcomers named to the roster are forwards Taylor Heise (University of Minnesota) and Hannah Bilka (Boston College), and Cornell University defenseman Rory Guilday.
Wroblewski spent two seasons coaching Los Angeles Kings American Hockey League affiliate Ontario Reign before retiring for personal reasons. The 41-year-old is best known for his four years in the national team development programwhere he oversaw teams that produced 29 NHL draft picks.
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John Wawrow, Associated Press