Gophers captain Potulny out until March with shoulder injury

Men’s hockey senior captain Grant Potulny separated his shoulder Saturday night.

Lou Raguse

Saturday’s 2-1 victory over North Dakota turned bittersweet for Minnesota’s men’s hockey team as senior captain Grant Potulny left the game with a shoulder injury.

As a result, the forward is expected to be out of the lineup until March.

The injury comes 11 weeks after Potulny’s brother, Ryan, a Gophers freshman, suffered a season-ending knee injury against the same Sioux team in the brothers’ hometown of Grand Forks, N.D.

The two played eight games together to begin this season.

It is the second consecutive year Grant Potulny will miss playing time, and he is just the latest player to be bitten by the injury bug. In addition to his brother, defenseman Keith Ballard has also lost significant time because of injury.

Grant Potulny missed 22 games last season with a fractured ankle before returning to lead the Gophers to their second straight national title. Minnesota was 11-5-6 in his absence.

“We’re very disappointed to lose Grant at this critical point of the season,” coach Don Lucia said in a statement. “We know, however, that no one will work harder at rehab than the team captain.

“We expect him to have an impact in the lineup when he returns, just like he did a year ago. We’ll miss his leadership and his play on the ice, but the good news is he’ll be back.”

Grant Potulny’s injury occurred in the second period Saturday, when he collided with Sioux defenseman Matt Smaby. Grant Potulny immediately left the game.

He was unavailable for comment, but his father confirmed Grant Potulny underwent X-rays sometime Monday.

“I don’t know anything except that it’s a separated shoulder,” Jay Potulny said. “He might be out for a little bit, it sounds like.”

In 26 games this season, Grant Potulny notched 11 goals and eight assists and leads the team with seven power-play goals.