Jake Sanderson clears COVID-19 protocol; UND defenseman headed to Olympics on Wednesday
The sophomore blue liner is unlikely to play in USA's opener, but will be available in short order.
GRAND FORKS — UND defenseman Jake Sanderson has cleared COVID-19 protocol and is set to depart Los Angeles for Beijing and the 2022 Winter Olympics on Wednesday.
Sanderson produced negative tests on four consecutive days and will now be able to join his American teammates, who arrived in China last week.
The UND blue liner is not expected to play in Team USA's opener at 7:10 a.m. Thursday against China.
USA's second game is scheduled for 10:10 p.m. Friday against Canada. Its third game is scheduled for 7:10 a.m. Sunday against Germany.
The knockout round begins at 10:10 p.m. Monday night.
Sanderson has been expected to play a key role for the Americans.
The No. 5 overall pick of the Ottawa Senators in the 2020 NHL Draft has been one of college hockey's top defensemen this season — on both ends of the rink.
Sanderson, of Whitefish, Mont., can play a shutdown role defensively while adding to the offense through his elite skating ability. He has seven goals and 24 points in 21 games this season for the Fighting Hawks, who sit in second place in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference.
Sanderson, who missed last weekend's series against Omaha, also will miss this weekend against Colorado College. He will likely be gone for UND's road series at Minnesota Duluth on Feb. 18-19, too, but if USA is eliminated right away, it's possible he could return for it.
The 6-foot, 183-pound defenseman captained the U.S. World Junior Championship team this season. The World Juniors were called off after just one game because of four positive COVID-19 tests.