Pionk finally returns to Jets after wait for COVID-19 test results

Winnipeg Jets welcomed back defenseman Neal Pionk to practise after the 24-year-old had to endure a delay in a hotel room, as he waited for his COVID-19 test results, before he was able to return from his Christmas break.

After he scheduled a PCR test to get back to Canada, which went smoothly, he still had not received his results by Christmas Day morning and was forced to commute as close to the border as he could, anticipating a return to the US.

Pionk finally returns to Jets after wait for COVID-19 test results

His alternative was to try and find another test: “It’s pretty hard to schedule a COVID test on Christmas Day, so that wasn’t an option,” Pionk explained.

“So, we had to stay in a hotel, still waiting for the results. (They) didn’t come in, didn’t come in, and then the 26th came around and it happened to be a Sunday and still couldn’t find a COVID test, whether it wasn’t an option, or all appointments were already booked up.”


Lucky break

After even being turned away from an emergency room, he received a stroke of luck on the morning of December 27th: “Finally, the 27th came around and we found a place that turned a PCR test around, they gave us the results back in about 30 minutes, and once those results came in we were able to cross the border alongside driving in a blizzard to get to Winnipeg,” Pionk said. “So, it was a nightmare, but we made it here.”

In order to hedge his chances, Pionk also scheduled three other tests just in case, however, one was cancelled because of a blizzard: “That would have been another nightmare,” Pionk continued as he explained about the alternative options.

“Thankfully, we found a pharmacy down there that flips the results in about 30 minutes. But it was quite the whirlwind.”


Hectic schedule for Jets

Due to games being postponed over Christmas because of a surge in COVID-19 cases, the Jets have a clustered fixture schedule in the coming weeks and Pionk will be hoping that even this goes smoother than his festive period.

They currently sit fifth in the Western Conference and will have designs on making the playoffs, though first have will have to endure what is going to be a long remainder of the season over the coming four months.