Amanda Kessel is a little more than one month into her competitive comeback from a life-changing concussion, but she’s reportedly already planning on playing hockey at least another two years.
Kessel will “set her sights” on the 2018 Olympics after she graduates from the University of Minnesota this summer, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
Kessel, a 24-year-old who sat out nearly two years after the Sochi Olympics, scored the first hat trick of her comeback in her final game at the University of Minnesota’s Ridder Arena on Saturday.
“I didn’t picture ever really being able to come back at first,” Kessel said, according to the newspaper. “So I guess to get another opportunity at that, I’m champing at the bit.”
The 6-2 win over Princeton moved the Golden Gophers into this weekend’s NCAA Frozen Four.
“Here’s a kid who thought her hockey career was over, and now she’s got a second shot at it,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said, according to the newspaper. “So you can see the passion she’s playing with.”
Meanwhile, many of Kessel’s 2014 U.S. Olympic teammates are preparing for the World Championship, in two weeks in Kamloops, B.C.
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U.S. hockey player Amanda Kessel said she crashed “headfirst into the boards” in a freak accident several months before the Sochi Olympics, according to The New York Times, detailing her pre-Olympic concussion.
“Somebody tripped, took out my legs and I went headfirst into the boards,” Kessel said, not able to recall where or when it happened.
Kessel also is considering trying to play in the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, according to the report, which would be a remarkable return after nearly two years away from competition.
In fall 2013, Kessel did not play in the U.S.’ Olympic lead-up games against international opponents due to what she said was a hip injury.
That came after she broke out as the NCAA Player of the Year for an undefeated University of Minnesota team and scored the game-winning goal in the 2013 World Championship final.
Kessel did play at the Sochi Olympics, tying for the team lead with six points and earning a silver medal, but then sat out with post-concussion effects until returning to the University of Minnesota lineup this month.
“Going into Sochi, I felt well,” Kessel said, according to The New York Times. “Then a week and even months after, I noticed these weird things that I thought were normal, but they weren’t — sensitivity to light, headaches, fogginess, and I was nauseous all the time. I couldn’t figure out why, because I wasn’t hit again or anything.”
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Amanda Kessel, who hasn’t played a hockey game since the Sochi Olympics due to post-concussion symptoms, is expected to return for the University of Minnesota’s games Friday and Saturday, according to reports.
“I’m so happy to be playing hockey again,” Kessel said in a press release. “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. 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.”
Kessel, 24, is in the final year of her NCAA eligibility for Minnesota, which she led as the National Player of the Year to a 41-0-0 NCAA championship campaign in 2012-13.
She hasn’t played for Minnesota since, taking the 2013-14 season off to play for the U.S., picking up a silver medal and a reported concussion in Sochi.
“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,” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “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.”
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