Bruins prospect Johnny Beecher, who made Team USA’s World Junior Championship team last year, will not be part of this year’s team in Edmonton because he tested positive for COVID-19.
Beecher’s father, Bill, told the Globe that his son was informed at around 6 a.m. Saturday that his final test of camp was positive. The 19-year-old left Plymouth, Mich., traveling with roommate Thomas Bordeleau, and returned to his college campus at the University of Michigan.
Bordeleau, a Sharks prospect, was also released from camp.
Team USA general manager John Vanbiesbrouck said the players “were crushed” by the news, adding that the team unsuccessfully appealed to the IIHF after receiving one positive test.
According to the IIHF’s pre-World Junior testing protocol, a single positive test is disqualifying. Sweden’s William Eklund, a top 2021 NHL Draft prospect, and two teammates were dismissed from their country’s camp last week after testing positive.
Vanbiesbrouck said the Americans planned to take 14 forwards, 8 defensemen, and 3 goalies to Edmonton, but instead took 13, 9, and 3. Vanbiesbrouck said the final makeup of the squad was “protocol-related, not directly coronavirus-related.”
It is unfortunate for Bordeleau, who had not tested positive as of Saturday morning, and for Beecher. The latter took another rapid test upon returning to campus, about four hours after his WJC test result came in, his father said. That test came back negative.
If Beecher tests negative again, he will travel home to Elmira, N.Y., for a week to 10 days, while the Michigan hockey team is off for the holidays.
“We’ll enjoy a little time having him home, fortunately and unfortunately,” Bill Beecher said. “You hurt for your son. What an honor to put that jersey on. There aren’t many of us who will ever have that experience at that level. For World Juniors [as a 19-year-old], this was his last chance. That hurts.”
Beecher, a 2019 first-round pick (30th overall), had a goal and an assist in eight games for Michigan this season. He left the Wolverines for Team USA camp Dec. 6 and practiced with the team this past week, most recently on Friday. His father said Beecher reported mild symptoms, with no loss of taste or smell, and was surprised to get a positive test, particularly since he was “tested six days a week at Michigan” and was “around the same guys, haven’t done anything, haven’t gone anywhere.”
Not having a chance at World Junior redemption with the American squad was a blow to Beecher, who went scoreless in last year’s tournament in the Czech Republic. The US finished sixth.
“When I tell you he loves the Cole Caulfields and Trevor Zegrases and Darren Turcottes ... they are truly best friends,” Beecher’s father said. “They don’t get to see each other often. But they were going to put that jersey on and play for Team USA together one last time. Last year was a disappointment, finishing sixth. Their expectations were a heck of a lot higher.
“We’ll have to watch from the sidelines. It’s the world we’re living in ... As much as it hurts that Johnny won’t be able to play, people are facing a lot worse things right now.”
Two other Bruins draft picks, Matias Mantykivi (Finland) and Roman Bychkov (Russia), made their respective World Junior squads. The tournament begins Dec. 25, inside a bubble at Rogers Place, and concludes Jan. 5 ... Boston College will have three members on the US team, including forward Matt Boldy, a Millis native, along with defenseman Drew Helleson and goalie Spencer Knight. Also on the squad from Hockey East are Northeastern freshman Sam Colangelo, a forward from Stoneham, as well as a pair of freshman forwards from Providence College: Patrick Moynihan from Millis and Brett Berard from East Greenwich, R.I. ... Zegras, a former Boston University forward now with the Anaheim Ducks, returns along with Knight from last year’s US squad ... Other locals heading to Edmonton are Southborough’s Henry Thrun, who played at Harvard last season, and Hingham’s Matthew Beniers, a freshman at Michigan ... Providence coach Nate Leaman will serve as head coach, with Harvard coach Ted Donato an assistant … Team USA will be without Maple Leafs prospect Nick Robertson, who would have made the squad as a forward if the NHL was not aiming to open training camps the first week of January. “This was a hockey decision by the Toronto Maple Leafs,” Vanbiesbouck said … The Yanks have not yet named captains. They plan to do so this coming week.
(Andrew Mahoney of the Globe staff contributed to this report.)