Olympic silver medalist Amanda Kessel returned to skating and could play for the University of Minnesota this season, Gophers coach Brad Frost said Tuesday.
“At this point it’s completely unknown,” Frost said. “She’s just doing some exertional rehab and testing the waters.”
Kessel, 24 and the younger sister of NHL All-Star and Olympian Phil Kessel, hasn’t played a game since the Sochi 2014 Olympic final loss to Canada.
In September 2014, it was first reported she suffered a concussion before the Olympics. Kessel, who missed a series of fall 2013 Olympic lead-up games, played all five games in Sochi while being hampered by what she said was a hip injury.
She sat out the 2014-15 University of Minnesota season due to lingering concussion symptoms.
In July, Frost said that Kessel would not play at all in the 2015-16 season because “it’s just not worth it for her and her health,” according to the Grand Forks (N.D.) Herald.
“This is a step in that progression with her rehab, and we’ll see where it goes,” Frost said Tuesday.
In 2014, Kessel visited a brain institute in Atlanta headed by the same doctor who worked with Sidney Crosby and two-time U.S. Olympic medalist Caitlin Cahow after their concussions.
Kessel won the 2012-13 NCAA Player of the Year award as part of Minnesota’s 41-0-0 NCAA champion team and missed the 2013-14 season to play for the U.S. National Team.
She potted what proved to be the gold-medal-game-winning goal at the 2013 World Championship, beating the most decorated women’s player of all time, Canadian Hayley Wickenheiser, and the goalie who denied the U.S. in the last two Olympic finals, Shannon Szabados, on the scoring play.
“Amanda was the best player in the world when she played here last,” Frost said Tuesday.
This NCAA season, which ends March 20, is Kessel’s final year of eligibility, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.