International Ice Hockey Federation

WW Top 25 Stories: #13

WW Top 25 Stories: #13

Amanda Kessel misses 2014/15 with concussion

Published 23.03.2015 19:12 GMT+1 | Author Andrew Podnieks
WW Top 25 Stories: #13
USA forward Amanda Kessel scores a goal against Switzerland during the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Photo: Andre Ringuette / HHOF-IIHF Images
10 September 2014. In a press release, the University of Minnesota announced that its star forward, Amanda Kessel, would miss the entire 2014/15 season.

This because of “lingering concussion symptoms due to injuries sustained as a member of the U.S. Women’s National Team”.

This was, in one sentence, the worst on-ice news in women’s hockey history. Just as Sidney Crosby was sidelined for months with concussion issues, Kessel, the world’s best player, was forced to shut down her game for an entire season because of a head injury. Her return remains in limbo. Will she be back in September, the year after, when?

In her statement, Kessel commented: "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 per cent 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."

Kessel was a key player for the U.S. U18 team that won consecutive gold medals in 2008 and 2009. After high school she joined the University of Minnesota, and in 2012/13 she established herself as the heir to Hayley Wickenheiser as “greatest” female player.

That year she had 46 goals and 55 assists in 41 games, leading the Gophers to a perfect 41-0-0 season and the national championship. She was named winner of the Patty Kazmaier Award as top NCAA player, and her career was peaking at just the right time, with Sochi in the cross-hairs.

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Kessel missed the entire NCAA year of 2013/14 as she trained with the national team for the 2014 Olympics, but even before Sochi she missed some exhibition games with the national team and was never 100 per cent after that.

In Sochi, she had three goals and as many assists but was not a factor in the gold-medal game. In that final, against Canada, she had only 17:29 of ice time in a game that lasted 68 minutes. Ten other U.S. players logged more minutes.

Kessel never played for her university after Sochi, and as she started to prepare for the new 2014/15 season, it was clear she wasn’t well.

“We knew she wasn’t at full strength the last couple of months,” Gophers coach Brad Frost admitted. “It’s best for her to try and recover away from college, and we’ve been planning for that.”

Just as Crosby’s concussions brought into focus a kind of injury that has taken too long to be respected, Kessel’s has brought home a worrying fact in women’s hockey – that concussions can also happen in the women’s game.

While doctors and health-care workers learn more about concussions with female athletes, the only known remedy for now is rest. Come back too early, and your chances of suffering another concussion are greatly increased. Kessel is taking no such chances, but women’s hockey is the lesser for it.

In celebration of the 25th anniversary of women's hockey in the IIHF, writer Andrew Podnieks is counting down the top 25 stories in women's international hockey history. One story each day will appear until the Number 1 story is unveiled the morning of the gold-medal game of the 2015 Women's Worlds in Malmo, Sweden, on April 4.

Earlier Top 25 Stories:
#14: IIHF removes body-checking from women’s hockey
#15: Jenni Hiirikoski becomes first Euro two-timer
#16: Former NHLer Yashin leads Russian women to bronze
#17: Cammi Granato cut before Turin
#18: Visitors win twice in North American finals
#19: IIHF makes Women’s Worlds official for 1990
#20: Rogge issues challenge to women’s hockey
#21: IIHF goes to all-women officials
#22: Shannon Miller recruits Euros for NCAA
#23: IIHF introduces junior event for women
#24: Zorn a goalie and skater both
#25: Russia-Switzerland a dandy display in 2011


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