The University of Minnesota Golden Gophers are getting a serious talent infusion late in the season with the announcement that Amanda Kessel will rejoin the Gopher women’s team for the remainder of the 2015-16 season.
Kessel is a two-time All-American and the winner of the 2013 Patty Kazmaier Award for best player in women’s collegiate hockey. She ranks fifth in Gopher history with 231 points in 114 games. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg on her trophy case. She won 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’s also the winner of the 2013 USA Hockey Bob Allen Women’s Player of the Year, CCM/AHCA First-Team All-American, USCHO.com Co-Player of the Year, and WCHA Player of the Year.
It’s easy to understand her significance to this program and the disappointment she and teammates felt when it looked like she wasn’t going to be able to play this season.
It was reported in July that Kessel would not be able to take the ice this year at all, ending her college career due to concussions.
She last suited up for the Gophers in the 2012-13 season when the team went a perfect 41-0-0-0 and won the national title. She redshirted the following season to play for the U.S. during the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. She sat out last season because of lingering concussion issues and it looked like those same issues would keep her sidelined this season, in her final year of college eligibility.
— Minnesota Women's Hockey (@GopherWHockey) February 3, 2016
Via the University of Minnesota press release, Kessel said, “I’m so happy to be playing hockey again. I’m not suffering from any concussion symptoms, and I’ve been evaluated by a number of physicians who have cleared me to play. I feel great, and I’m looking forward to being back on the ice with my teammates on game day.”
“We’re excited to have Amanda returning to the lineup,” said head coach Brad Frost. “Her recovery and overall health have always been most important, and we weren’t sure if she would have the opportunity to play college hockey again. Knowing that Amanda and the team of doctors working with her have determined she is healthy and ready to resume playing is certainly great news.”
Kessel’s return will be significant for the No. 3 ranked Gophers, who currently sit second in the WCHA behind the University of Wisconsin Badgers.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.