BILLINGS - Less than a week from Team USA's opening hockey game at the 2022 Winter Olympics, Whitefish native Jake Sanderson is stuck in COVID-19 protocol.
The University of North Dakota defenseman is still in Los Angeles where the team recently departed for Beijing, according to a release from Team USA. USA Hockey says that it is hopeful Sanderson will be able to join the team within the next week. A team spokesman also confirmed that fellow defenseman Steven Kampfer and forward Andy Miele are in the protocol. Miele and Kampfer are isolating in Beijing.
None of USA's players are ruled out of the competition, the spokesman said.
Sanderson, the Ottawa Senators' No. 5 overall pick in 2020, is among college hockey's top players this season with 24 points in 21 games. He also leads the Fighting Hawks in points per game.
Sanderson was a captain on the U.S. World Junior Championship team this winter and won a World Junior gold medal with Team USA last year.
Team USA's first Olympics match is scheduled for 6:10 a.m. MST on Thursday, Feb. 10 against host China at Beijing National Indoor Stadium. The squad will round out pool play against Canada (9:10 p.m., Feb. 11) and Germany (6:10 a.m. Feb. 13).
After that, the qualification playoffs begin Feb. 14-15.
Team USA started practice Friday afternoon, and the men's hockey preliminary round starts Wednesday.