Vålerenga coach Espen Shampo Knutsen (50) believes that corona-exposed matches in the elite series in ice hockey must be canceled, instead of being moved to a later date as now.
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– Do we think this will pass tomorrow? I do not think so. Several teams will be affected, and we can not continue to move all the matches forward in time. Then we may have to play matches every other day for three months. It is predation, he says – and adds that many of the players also have a civilian job.
– We have to cancel matches, Espen Shampo Knutsen concludes.
The league game is scheduled to end with 45 games. The Vålerenga coach believes that the number should be reduced to 36.
17 of Espen Knutsen’s players were out of action on Wednesday. Three due to injuries, the rest due to corona infection. According to Shampo, Vålerenga’s all three current top series keepers are unavailable after proven infection.
– It is a completely hopeless time. We have tried to borrow goalkeepers from other clubs. But no one wants to give away goalkeepers to a team with lots of corona, and I understand that, says Espen Knutsen – who himself has avoided being infected.
Ice hockey president Tage Pettersen says that the association and the management of the elite league clubs’ marketing and interest organization discussed the matter in a meeting on Wednesday. The latter’s chairman of the board Henning Svendsen (Sparta Sarpsborg) confirms Pettersen’s information that the parties have agreed to play as many league matches as possible before 10 March. With a maximum of three matches per week (Tuesday, Thursday, weekend), before the quarter-finals of the NC finals will start a few days later.
– If some of the teams fail to complete by playing 45 games, an average point calculation will form the basis for the final table, says Henning Svendsen.
Last season (2020/21) was canceled in early January due to the corona pandemic. Frisk Asker was then named league champion after such a score calculation.
Vålerenga’s match against Manglerud Star on Tuesday was postponed, the settlement against the same opponent on Thursday has been postponed. Vålerenga played their last match against Ringerike Panthers on Sunday 9 January. Since December 9 – it’s six weeks ago – they have only played four games. However, Vålerenga is not alone in having postponed a number of matches. Frisk Asker has played one match in five and a half weeks.
Vålerenga has played the fewest league matches – 26 – of the Fjordkraft league’s 10 teams. Frisk Asker has put 27 behind him, league leader Stavanger Oilers 29 – while Sparta Sarpsborg and the Oslo team Grüner have played the most: 31.
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– I hope the playoffs (from mid-March) can be a positive case for ice hockey, but I am skeptical about how it will go if we have to play matches every other day before it starts. We have a responsibility to the public as well, in that we must be able to offer it a good product, says Espen Knutsen.
On Wednesday, he had five backs and nine runners during the training, including junior players. Vålerenga’s next match will, according to the current setup, go against Grüner next Saturday. Vålerenga has applied to the association for a postponement. Espen Knutsen believes that he can only hope for brighter times next week, in the form of healthy players.