While her tournament didn’t end with the desired result, Amanda Kessel became a star with the U.S. women’s hockey team in the Sochi Games – landing on the radar screen of sports fans around the nation and finally beginning to emerge from her the shadow of her brother, Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel.
But this season, her rising star has been lassoed back to earth. The University of Minnesota announced on Wednesday that Kessel will miss the 2014-15 season because of ”lingering concussion symptoms due to injuries sustained as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team.”
"I've had an unforgettable experience at the University of Minnesota thus far, so I’m disappointed that I won’t be able to return to the team this year," Kessel said in a statment. "It’s obviously a difficult decision and one that I’ve taken time to come to terms with. As someone who has played through a lot of injuries, it wasn’t until suffering a concussion that I fully understood the importance of being 100% healthy when I’m on the ice. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case right now.
"My number one priority is my health, and I hope that I’ll be able to return to the ice in the future. I want to thank my coaches, teammates and everyone at the University for their support."
There was great anticipation for her return to Minnesota lineup for the 2014-15 season. She missed last season while training with the U.S. team; she was entering her senior season with 231 points in 114 NCAA games, becoming just the fourth player in NCAA history to crack 100 points with a mindboggling 101 points in 37 games in 2012-13.
The decision comes on the advice of her doctors, who wanted her to dedicate the season to her recovery.
Said coach Brad Frost:
"We obviously wish we could have Amanda with us this year, but her health is everyone’s top priority. She has come to the difficult conclusion to focus solely on her treatment at this time. We understand and support her decision and hope she fully recovers. She will always have a place in our locker room, and we will continue to support her."
She had 3 goals and 3 assists for the U.S. in Sochi, although was shut down in their gold medal loss against Canada. There was no talk of concussion symptoms during the games, but Kessel was less than 100 percent in the lead up to the Olympics, missing a few of the team's exhibition games.
The injury is a loss to the Gophers but also a loss for women's hockey. The "Olympic Bump" might not be a tangible thing for the NHL, but if the Gophers were playing in the Women's Frozen Four, hockey fans that otherwise might not watch the tournament could have made time to see Kessel, who is without question a phenom.
But her future is too important, and Kessel's clearly learned not to test her health with a full NCAA season.