News doesn’t overwhelm injury-riddled Hankinson

by Aaron Kirscht

Casey Hankinson is in bad shape, but my, what a humanitarian.
The Gophers men’s hockey captain was slowed by a hip pointer and a nasty case of the flu last week. And the sprained left thumb he suffered on Saturday against Minnesota-Duluth, the one that was downgraded to a dislocation, has now been downgraded to a break.
But on the same day he learned the true scope of the injury, Hankinson was recognized for his efforts away from the rink. For the second straight year, Hankinson was named a finalist for the 1998 Humanitarian Award. The award “strives to honor the accomplishments of personal character, scholarship and the giving of oneself off ice to the community.”
That’s pretty heady stuff, but Hankinson seemed more concerned with his personal health than the possibility of another trophy on his mantle.
“It sucks,” Hankinson said of the injury, which isn’t expected to keep him out of the lineup. He then added a few other expletives that would be better left out of print. “It obviously hurt, but I played with it and I was fine. I just thought it was dislocated and by the end of the week I’d have the splint off.”
The current cast on Hankinson’s left hand is formed in a way that limits him from holding the stick properly, especially with a glove to work around. He was asked if he could play with the cast as is.
“If I’m shooting like I did when I was in pee-wees, no,” Hankinson said. “The thumb is pretty important in shooting, so we’ll have to see. I’ll definitely have to get another cast, because this one doesn’t cut it.”

Scoring goals is fun
Gophers defenseman Brett Abrahamson was named the WCHA Defensive Player of the Week for his performance against Minnesota-Duluth.
On Saturday, he scored twice — the first two-goal game of his Gophers career — and notched the game-winner that gave Minnesota its first WCHA sweep of the season.
Funny thing, though; isn’t Abrahamson being honored more for his newfound offensive prowess rather than his competence as a defenseman?
“You got me,” Abrahamson said with a chuckle. “I don’t know what they were thinking. But it’s an honor. I’ll probably never score two goals in a weekend again. It’s hard enough for me to score in practice, let alone in a game.”
Abrahamson is the first Gopher to be named a player of the week since Reggie Berg earned offensive honors on Nov. 10.
But one Minnesota player who seems to have been overlooked is Dave Spehar, who had four goals and an assist in the series with the Bulldogs. Wisconsin center Steve Reinprecht had a hat trick on Friday and an assist on Saturday in the Badgers’ sweep of Colorado College to take home his third Offensive Player of the Week award this season. Reinprecht had four points to Spehar’s five.
Wisconsin freshman goaltender Graham Melanson, who is 6-0 with a goals-against average of 1.84, was named rookie of the week.

ù The bad blood between the Gophers and Bulldogs is well-documented, and if anyone needed a reminder, the 27 penalties for 70 minutes on Saturday — with the referees actually letting them play — were enough.
ù Breathing room? Minnesota has two games in hand over the teams they’re battling for the all-important WCHA fifth spot, the one that guarantees a home playoff series. Minnesota and second-place Wisconsin have played only 16 WCHA games, while the rest of the league has played 18.