Amanda Kessel is set to return to the University of Minnesota's women's hockey lineup after missing two years due to a concussion, the school announced.
“I’m so happy to be playing hockey again,” Kessel said in a statement. “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.”
“Sometimes difficult things happen in life, and they only make you stronger,” Kessel added. “It was extremely challenging, but I did everything I could to get healthy. I'm grateful for everyone who helped and supported me throughout the difficult times. I wouldn't be in this position without them. I cannot wait to be back out there doing what I love to do while representing the University of Minnesota.”
Minnesota will play two games against North Dakota this weekend.
“We’re excited to have Amanda returning to the lineup,” Minnesota head coach Brad Frost said in a statement. “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. She has always been a part of our program, and we're happy she has a chance to finish out her college career on the ice along with completing her coursework and getting her degree this spring.”
Kessel suffered the concussion prior to the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia and went on to play five games for Team USA.
The Gophers defeated Harvard in 2015 to win their sixth national championship and third in four years. It was expected that Kessell would miss the entire 2015-16 season, which spelled an end to her collegiate career. Kessel took a redshirt year in 2013–14 to focus on training for the Olympics and used her second and final redshirt last year as she continued to recover from a concussion. This year is her final year of NCAA eligibility as the NCAA grants athletes six years to complete their four seasons of eligibility.
From 2011 to 2013, she scored 78 goals and recorded 181 points for the Golden Gophers to earn All-America honors twice and the 2013 Patty Kazmeier Memorial Award.
Kessel’s older brother, Phil, is a forward with the NHL’s Pittsburgh Penguins.