Along with sporting events across the world, members of the U.S. women’s ice hockey team were on advantage. The five-time defensive champions would ask each other, “Did you hear?” and “Do you think?” like other, albeit mostly smaller, events were starting to fall off the sports calendar.
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“Then, sure enough, it got,” goaltender Alex Cavallini (née Rigsby) said. “That was so hard for all of us to take at first because it was one of the first sports tournaments.”
The news came down on March 7, four days before the NBA suspended its season, opening the floodgates to most global sporting events soon being canceled or postponed indefinitely.
“We were like, all these other pro teams are still playing, or they’re talking about playing without fans, and we could play without fans,” Cavallini continued. “You go through all these different scenarios, then a few days later everything was canceled and you realize there’s a bigger picture here. They’re doing what they can to avoid the spread of this crazy thing going on. I can’t even comprehend having world championships now at this point.”
Long before anyone outside the medical field knew the word “coronavirus,” however, women’s ice hockey had already suffered its first blow to the season. Sweden was set to host the Four Nations Cup, the annual competition among four of the world’s top women’s teams, in November 2019. However, in September the Swedish ice hockey federation announced it was canceling the tournament due to an ongoing dispute with its women’s players, several of whom were boycotting the national team.
To make up for it, Canada and the U.S. came together for a joint training camp and two exhibition games in November at the repetition home of the Pittsburgh Penguins as a way to prepare for the upcoming Rivalry Series between the two countries.