U’s Smaagaard out for the playoffs

Lou Raguse

Minnesota men’s hockey junior Garrett Smaagaard will have surgery to repair a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and will miss the rest of the season, he said Monday.

The forward injured his knee in the Feb. 27 game against Denver. He was hit near the bench and said he heard a pop in his knee.

He did not play the next night against the Pioneers or in last weekend’s series against St. Cloud State. Because the injury hasn’t gotten any better in that time, team doctors and the coaching staff decided it is best to repair the damage now.

“It’s disappointing because this is the fun time of the year to play,” Smaagaard said. “But I know what it takes to come back from this kind of injury, so hopefully, I’ll be even stronger for my senior year.”

In fall of 2000, Smaagaard suffered a similar injury to his other knee while playing in the Minnesota state football championship game for Eden Prairie High School.

But because there is less additional damage to the knee this time, the surgery will be less complicated and considerably shorter, he said.

Smaagaard said he plans to undergo surgery next week during spring break so that he has a few days to stay off his feet.

In 33 games this season, he notched three goals and 17 assists – five more points than his first two seasons combined.

“He made a great step in his development this year,” Minnesota coach Don Lucia said. “He was a top assist guy, an energy guy, and losing him leaves a hole in our lineup.”

Two Gophers honored

The WCHA named Minnesota men’s hockey forward Thomas Vanek co-offensive player of the week and Gophers women’s hockey forward Krissy Wendell player of the week Monday.

Vanek had two goals and two assists last weekend to help the Gophers sweep St. Cloud State and gain home ice for the first round of the WCHA playoffs.

Wendell recorded six goals and two assists for the Gophers, helping the team clinch the WCHA regular season title.