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Connecticut Whale had ‘multiple’ COVID-19 cases before withdrawing from NWHL season that was later shut down

The NWHL suspended play on Wednesday after the spread of COVID-19 made it untenable to continue.Maddie Meyer/Getty

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — Connecticut Whale coach Colton Orr told the Globe Thursday that his team had “multiple” positive tests while in Lake Placid, and that the “controlled environment” here fell apart, despite the best intentions of the organizers.

The Whale has “a fairly significant number at this point,” Orr said.

Orr said he tested negative, and will quarantine and test in Lake Placid before departing.

His players, who arrived via bus, all have different plans.

“It’s being done safely, with procedures to make sure everyone’s tested and quarantined for the right about of time,” Orr said. “We want everyone to get home safely and safely back to their communities.”


His team was healthy on arrival — “no positive tests before Lake Placid,” he said, and players followed protocol before arriving, which included staying at home when not at the rink or at their day jobs.

“Our players did a good job of minimizing risk,” Orr said, “knowing how the world is.”

Connecticut’s decision to withdraw on Monday was player-driven. The team was given the option by the NWHL to play a seeding game against Minnesota that night, even with multiple positives in the Whale organization. Four days before, when Riveters were forced to withdraw with “several” per NWHL, the Globe reported the Whale had “at least one” positive.

“Out of safety of our staff, players, and of the league, we felt we had no choice but not to play,” Orr said. “And even after that, we still had new cases coming in.”

Orr refused to speculate on where the NWHL’s COVID problems began, saying he preferred to keep the focus on his team.

The day before withdrawing, the Whale lost, 6-0, to Toronto on Sunday, after bringing in four new players (and sitting six players because of COVID concerns). Orr said his team knew they had issues.


“I don’t think we ever felt we were in the clear,” he said. “Once (COVID) was in here, it was tough to control.”

Matt Porter can be reached at Follow him @mattyports.