After time off the ice, Kessel returns to Gophers lineup

Amanda Kessel drives the puck toward the New Hampshire goal at Ridder Arena on Nov. 18, 2011.

Anthony Kwan, Daily File Photo

Amanda Kessel drives the puck toward the New Hampshire goal at Ridder Arena on Nov. 18, 2011.

Emily Polglaze

Amanda Kessel has returned.
 
 
The 2013 Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award winner has rejoined the Gophers women’s hockey team with six games left in the regular season, head coach Brad Frost announced Wednesday.
 
 
The forward has not skated for the team since the 2012-13 season. She won a silver medal in the 2014 Olympics for the United States and stopped playing due to lingering concussion concerns. She began skating again three weeks ago.
 
 
“[Kessel’s] recovery and overall health have always been most important, and we weren’t sure if she’d have the opportunity to play college hockey again,” Frost said in a statement Wednesday. “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.”
 
 
Kessel’s eligibility will run out at the end of the 2015-16 season. She is fifth in team history with 251 career points.
 
 
“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,” Kessel said in a statement Wednesday. “I cannot wait to be back out there doing what I love to do while representing the University of Minnesota.”
 
 
The last time Kessel played for Minnesota, she was named the best player in college hockey, and the Gophers had a perfect 41-0 record.
 
 
Now she’ll give the Gophers a boost as the program looks toward the postseason.