Here's why UM hockey canceled game vs. WMU, but still will play day before

Tony Paul
The Detroit News

A marquee college hockey game between Michigan and Western Michigan, scheduled for Thursday in Ann Arbor, has been canceled by the Wolverines, citing "health and welfare protocols" within the program, both schools announced Monday night.

It's not strictly a COVID-19 issue, a Michigan official confirmed, which is why the Wolverines still will play their game scheduled for the day before, Wednesday night at home against Michigan Tech.

Michigan has five players who are away from the team competing in the World Juniors, being held this month and early next month in Albert, and was to have a sixth, but he withdrew because of COVID-19. Combined with other injuries and illnesses, the Michigan athletic department was concerned about the hockey tem playing games on back-to-back nights.

Owen Power

Michigan already will be playing with a short-handed roster against Michigan Tech.

Michigan (14-6) is No. 3 in the nation, and Western Michigan (13-5) is ranked No. 4, according to the latest USCHO.com poll released earlier this month.

The teams already met this season, in a home-and-home in October, when Western Michigan beat then-No. 1-ranked Michigan, 5-2, in Ann Arbor, before Michigan won the next day, 3-2 in overtime, in Kalamazoo. This week's meeting was to be part of the new-look Great Lakes Invitational, which was moved out of downtown Detroit because of sagging attendance numbers.

As part of the 2021 GLI, Michigan State will host Western Michigan on Wednesday night, and then host No. 18 Michigan Tech on Thursday.

The Michigan-Western Michigan game wasn't part of Michigan's season-ticket package, so fans who bought tickets will receive a full refund, with the ticket office providing information soon. Fans with questions about their tickets can email MTickets@umich.edu. An announced crowd of 5,800 attended the first Michigan-Western Michigan game at Yost Ice Arena on Oct. 22.

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tpaul@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @tonypaul1984