ECAC, CAN/AM hockey tournaments canceled out of coronavirus concern

The Clarkson University hockey team and fans celebrate winning last year's Eastern College Athletic Conference tournament in Lake Placid. While coronavirus risk is causing many public events to be canceled this March, the ECAC tournament is still on next week in Lake Placid, officials say. (News photo — Lou Reuter)

LAKE PLACID — Two huge hockey tournaments in Lake Placid — the Eastern College Athletic Conference’s final four and the CAN/AM Challenge Cup for younger players — have been canceled as concerns continue over the spread of the novel coronavirus.

The CAN/AM hockey tournament was set to begin here Thursday. That morning, CAN/AM Hockey officials urged athletes and their families not to travel to the Olympic Village.

One of the teams in the CAN/AM Peewee Lillehammer Division, the Lightning, was expected to travel here from New Rochelle, a Westchester County city that had the largest cluster of confirmed coronavirus cases in the country as of Wednesday. The city was placed in a “containment area” by the state Tuesday and the National Guard was deployed there. Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the state would take this step in an attempt to control the spread of the virus.

“Unfortunately, given the rapidly evolving response to the COVID-19 outbreak, we feel that to cancel this event is the most prudent course or action,” the CAN/AM organization said in an email blast. “We urge you to share this information with your teammates and ask that people do not travel to Lake Placid for the tournament.

“Given the unprecedented nature of these events we are requesting that a brief period of time be allowed for us to work with our tournament partners on a financial resolution. Please be assured that we will work tirelessly towards a speedy settlement and will place our valued customers’ interests at the forefront of these efforts,” the organization said.

ECAC Hockey said in a statement Thursday that games at Quinnipiac and Rennesaeler Polytechnic Institute, as well as the semifinals and championship game scheduled in Lake Placid for March 20 and 21, are now canceled. Those with tickets to the championship weekend in Lake Placid were being offered full refunds through the state Olympic Regional Development Authority box office.

“We are deeply disappointed our programs will not have the opportunity to compete for a league championship; however, ceasing championship competition is in the best interest of everyone,” ECAC Hockey Commissioner Steve Hagwell said in a statement.

The cancellations came one day after USA Hockey announced it would cancel its series of upcoming National Championships, as well as the upcoming Disabled Hockey Festival in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Joe Baudo, president of the New York State Amateur Hockey Association, also announced Wednesday that the remaining state tournaments this season would be canceled “due to safety concerns and governmental directives aimed at stemming the spread of and threats associated with coronavirus.”

As of Thursday, all of the state Olympic Regional Development Authority’s upcoming events are still on, according to spokesman Jon Lundin. The authority is currently hosting the U.S. Collegiate Ski & Snowboard National Championships.

China’s team has dropped out of the sold-out ISU 2020 World Synchronized Skating Championships at the Olympic Center next month, according to Lundin.

The World Health Organization declared the novel coronavirus a pandemic on Wednesday. Cuomo said 216 coronavirus cases had been confirmed statewide as of Wednesday, and this past Saturday he declared a state of emergency in New York state. Though no confirmed case of coronavirus has surfaced in the North Country, Essex County Board of Supervisors Chairman Shaun Gillilland followed suit on Tuesday and issued a state of emergency countywide. Many government leaders, including President Donald Trump, have cautioned people about attending mass events.

The coronavirus is having a global economic impact as some schools close or switch to distance learning, businesses ask employees to work remotely, people self-isolate and governments issue directives against travel and mass gatherings.

The New York Times reported Thursday that trading in the United States was halted for 15 minutes shortly after the opening. A “circuit breaker” — an automatic trading halt designed to provide time for reflection and prevent markets from crashing — was triggered by a 7% drop in the S&P. It was the second time this week the circuit breaker had been triggered. Stocks in London saw their worst day since 1987 on Thursday.

Large-scale sporting events around the world are being canceled amid the coronavirus outbreak. The World Figure Skating Championships, which were slated to be held in Montreal next week, have been canceled, the Associated Press reported Wednesday. Skiing officials canceled the last few races of the women’s Alpine skiing World Cup in Are, Sweden, because of public health concerns. NCAA President Mark Emmert announced that Division I “March Madness” basketball games would be closed to fans, and the NBA suspended its season after a Utah Jazz player tested positive for coronavirus.