University of Minnesota

Amanda Kessel
AP

Amanda Kessel’s ‘sights set’ on 2018 Olympics, report says

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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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Amanda Kessel details pre-Olympic concussion

Amanda Kessel
AP
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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 ‘dream come true’ in University of Minnesota return

Amanda Kessel
AP
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Olympic silver medalist Amanda Kessel recorded two assists in her first game in nearly two years, coming back from a concussion for the University of Minnesota on Friday night.

“I think I’d regret it if I didn’t get back to this point,” Kessel said after a 3-0 win over North Dakota, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. “It’s pretty much a dream come true.”

Kessel, 24, last played in the Sochi Olympic gold-medal game and then sat out nearly two years with symptoms from a concussion reportedly suffered before the Winter Games. Coach Brad Frost said in July that Kessel wouldn’t play this season, ending her college career.

But in August, new doctors gave Kessel hope she would play again.

On Friday, she skated on the Golden Gophers’ top line after the school’s medical staff got second and third opinions before clearing her to play, according to the newspaper.

“If I was going to get back to playing, I was going to be 100 percent healthy and be able to get in there,” Kessel said, according to the Pioneer Press. “I felt great being able to get in corners and get hit and stuff like that.”

Kessel, the 2012-13 NCAA Player of the Year for the undefeated national champion, said she wasn’t 100 percent in “game shape” and that she felt like a rookie, but that she’s ready to challenge herself in the final month and a half of her senior season.

“I don’t think I’ve heard it that loud since we won the national championship here [on March 22],” Minnesota coach Brad Frost said. “So many people were just so excited to see her work her way back to where she is now.”

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