University of Minnesota Golden Gopher and Olympian Amanda Kessel will miss the entire 2014-15 college season due to lingering concussions symptoms, the program announced Wednesday.
"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," the 23-year-old forward said in a statement. "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."
Kessel, a Madison, Wisconsin native who went to high school at Minnesota's Shattuck St. Mary's, has scored 97 goals and tallied 134 assists in her three previous seasons with the Gophers – good for fourth all-time in the program for total points.
She missed the 2013-14 season while training and playing with the U.S. women's national team – which won the silver medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. She first suffered the concussion while working with Team USA.
Wrote Yahoo! Sports' Greg Wyshynski (aka Puck Daddy) of the Kessel news:
"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."
According to the Gophers' news release, a group of doctors and specialists determined sitting out this season was the best option.
"We obviously wish we could have Amanda with us this year, but her health is everyone’s top priority," said Gophers head coach Brad Frost. "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."
In 37 games as a junior, Kessel put up 101 points becoming only the fourth player in NCAA history to break the 100-point mark. She was named 2013 USA Hockey Bob Allen Women's Player of the Year, and 2013 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner for her efforts that year.
The Gophers won the NCAA title in 2012 and 2013, with Kessel on the squad.
"My number one priority is my health, and I hope that I’ll be able to return to the ice in the future," Kessel said Wednesday. "I want to thank my coaches, teammates and everyone at the University for their support."