Kessel missed the entirety of last season due to concussions, and she has decided not to return this season, ending her eligibility. Her eligibility was up because she also took the 2013-14 season off to train with the US Women’s team for the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Kessel was the 2013 Patty Kazmaier Award winner and a much-decorated international star, winning a silver medal at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, a gold medal at the 2013 IIHF Women’s World Championship, a silver in the 2012 IIHF Women’s World Championship and gold in the 2011 and 2012 Four Nations Cup.
She scored the game-winner in the 2013 World Championship, breaking a late third period tie with Canada with a beautiful shot.
Kessel was also a key piece of the 2012 and 2013 National Championships won by the Gophers.
Even more impressive is her 231 points through 114 games in three seasons with the Golden Gophers. It’s entirely possible that had she been able to play a fourth year she would have become the all-time leading scorer for NCAA women’s hockey.
In her junior year, 2012-13, she scored 46 goals and 55 assists in 37 games, including a plus-71 rating, nine power play goals, five shorthanded goals, and eight game-winners.
Kessel is an incredible player and it’s too bad that we won’t get to see her at the college level one more year. Health should be the number one priority undoubtedly, but she’s a rare dominant player that was incredibly fun to watch. I hope it’s not the last we’ve seen of Kessel on the ice.
Dustin Nelson writes about news and the Minnesota Wild for The Hockey Writers.