While his teammates travel to No. 2 North Dakota for a pivotal weekend series, senior goaltender Alex Kangas will undergo season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum Friday. The surgery will end his Gophers career.
Kangas said Wednesday his left hip had been nagging at him for about a year, even to the point that he was unsure how he could play against the Sioux in the WCHA playoffs last March.
But the pain only became unbearable this fall.
Kangas said he took a cortisone shot before the holiday break and rested for a couple weeks, but his hip didnâÄôt improve when he came back to practice recently.
As a freshman, Kangas set school records with a 1.98 goals-against average and a .930 save percentage. He ranked second in the WCHA lastÂÂÂ season with a .917 save percentage.
But in eight games this season, Kangas saved just 89.2 percent of the shots he saw, and was 2-5 as a starter while allowing almost four goals a game.
Although Kangas didnâÄôt attribute his drop-off in performance to the injury, he expressed disappointment that his career at Minnesota had to end this way.
âÄúGoing into your senior year you want to have a good year and go out on top,âÄù Kangas said. âÄúAnd obviously things didnâÄôt go well for me on the ice or off the ice either so itâÄôs kind of been a tough year, but youâÄôve got to battle through it.âÄù
Kangas was taken with the 135th overall pick by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2006 NHL entry draft, and he hopes to be ready to participate in their camp this summer.
Junior Kent Patterson has been effective in KangasâÄô absence, tallying a WCHA-best .931 save percentage in conference games.
Head coach Don Lucia said he was planning to split Kangas and Patterson throughout the second half of the season. Jake Kremer will likely remain as a practice goalie, leaving Patterson to carry the load for the rest of the way.
âÄúWe have a lot of confidence in [Patterson],âÄù senior Mike Hoeffel said. âÄúHeâÄôs shown in the first half when he got to play that heâÄôs a very competitive goaltender and keep us in games and give us a shot to win.âÄù
Patterson will have a tough task ahead of him starting this weekend in Grand Forks, N.D., Four of the next five teams the Gophers play are currently ranked in the top-10 nationally.
âÄúIt doesnâÄôt matter who you play in our league, theyâÄôre all good opponents,âÄù Lucia said. âÄúThis will be a great challenge to us because I really believe North Dakota is one of the deepest and best teams in the country.âÄù