It’s a given that no athlete is fond of injuries.
At the same time, however, anyone who has ever participated in a sport knew going in that there were certain inherent risks. Pulled muscles, sprained ankles and separated shoulders, as unpleasant as they are, come with the territory.
But the affliction that sidelined Gophers hockey player Ben Clymer falls into a completely different category. There is nothing normal about the dizzy spells the freshman started having in early February. There is nothing ordinary about Clymer not knowing if he’d be able to play again in a week, month, year or lifetime.
Fortunately, the inner ear problem he was having that affected his balance cleared up. When he returned to the ice this weekend against Alaska-Anchorage, so did his smile.
“It’s been difficult to deal with,” he said. “The last month hasn’t been much fun.”
Clymer’s illness was originally diagnosed as an ear infection. Gophers coaches scratched him from the lineup prior to the team’s Feb. 7 game against Northern Michigan. But Clymer’s symptoms persisted, and it was thought that the Bloomington Jefferson graduate had vertigo.
A later diagnosis revealed that Clymer had neutris, a condition that causes balance problems due to an infection in the inner ear.
His condition kept him out of eight games and left him frustrated. But his play on Friday night suggested that he hadn’t missed a game.
Clymer had a goal and an assist in the series opener, then added another assist in Saturday night’s game. There was no hint of rust on his goal, a driving redirection of a beautiful feed from Dan Woog.
Points aside, Clymer was just happy to be back in the lineup.
“I think I held my own defensively,” he said. “I just wanted to contribute.Back on Track
During the Gophers’ run at the league championship, players like Ryan Kraft, Wyatt Smith and Mike Crowley consistently provided the bulk of the team’s scoring output.
Their 6-1-1 record down the stretch was a result of a good overall team effort, but at the same time, the Gophers knew they would need more players to start scoring in the playoffs.
In that respect, Minnesota got exactly what it was looking for this weekend against Alaska-Anchorage.
Eight different players scored in the Gophers 8-2 win on Friday. Two of the most notable: Erik Rasmussen and Reggie Berg.
As freshmen last season, the duo combined for 39 goals and 43 assists. Heading into this weekend, however, they had a combined 20 goals and 29 assists. Rasmussen’s goal was his first since Jan. 25 against Michigan Tech. Berg scored for just the second time since that same game.
Both players said their confidence grew this weekend.
“You tend to get down on yourself a little bit when you aren’t scoring,” said Berg, who had three goals and two assists on the weekend. “I was just trying to keep working hard.”
ù Alaska-Anchorage skated with just three lines Saturday night because Chris Pont and Klage Kaebel were both out with concussions. UAA coach Dean Talafous said the shrunken lineup didn’t help the team, but he added that having four healthy lines wouldn’t have affected the outcome of the series.
ù Talafous was quick to praise Minnesota, saying, “I haven’t seen a team like that in the league this year. I’m very impressed.”
ù Of the Seawolves’ 23 losses this season, 15 were by two or fewer goals. The Gophers, however, won all four of the meetings between the teams by at least three goals.