Amanda Kessel has the potential to be one of the greatest women’s players in the world, but concussion issues that will force her to miss a second straight season and end her NCAA career.
According to the Grand Forks Herald, Kessel, 23, will skip her senior season with the NCAA’s University of Minnesota Gophers. Gophers coach Brad Frost confirmed that Kessel will skip the season to the Herald, saying, “It’s just not worth it for her and her health.”
Kessel has not suited up since playing for Team USA at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, but she hasn’t participated in any of the national team’s events since sustaining the injury. The concussion occurred before the Olympics began, but was cleared to play and posted three goals and six points in five games to finish in a tie for third in tournament scoring.
Kessel had elected to redshirt during the 2013-14 season to prepare for those Olympic games, meaning she remained on the team while also extending her eligibility for NCAA play. She subsequently used her second year of red shirt eligibility last season, but there will be no triumphant return. Having used her two years of redshirting and having played three seasons at Minnesota, 2015-16 would have been Kessel’s fourth and final year of college eligibility. Sadly, it will pass with her on the sidelines.
“After her missing last year and the severity of the concussions last year, we had a feeling that she was not going to be able to play for us unless things turned around,” Frost told the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “We’ve had some discussions with Amanda and myself, but really, it’s never even gotten to the point where hockey is something she would do with us again.”
Over her three seasons in the NCAA, Kessel scored 97 goals and 231 points in 114 games, including a monstrous 46-goal, 101-point season in 38 games during the 2012-13 campaign. For her efforts in 2012-13, Kessel was awarded the Patty Kazmaier Award as the NCAA’s top women’s hockey player. That same season, Kessel led the Gophers to the NCAA title, scoring two goals and four points to down Boston University for the national crown.
Kessel is the sister of Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel.
Frost told the Star Tribune that Kessel, who didn’t attend school last year, plans to return to the university to finish her degree.