Questionable hit puts Wendell on shelf for season

Brett Angel

Minnesota women’s hockey star forward Krissy Wendell broke her collarbone Saturday night against Ohio State and will be out for the remainder of the regular season. She will be re-evaluated by team physicians to determine her return.

Wendell, a silver medalist with the 2002 U.S. Olympic Team in Salt Lake City, suffered the injury just moments after scoring the game-winning goal in Minnesota’s 2-1 edging of the Buckeyes.

The freshman from Brooklyn Park was checked from behind by Ohio State’s Heather Farrell near center ice in the game’s final seconds and was taken to the hospital for X-rays late Saturday night. The results confirmed a fractured right clavicle.

“It’s very painful,” Minnesota head coach Laura Halldorson said of Wendell’s injury. “We were hoping it wasn’t that serious, but it was.”

The injury occurred away from the puck and the hit appeared unnecessary, but Halldorson declined to comment on the legitimacy of the play until the league had a chance to review the videotape.

WCHA Supervisor of Officials Greg Shepherd said he planned to view the tape Monday night and expected a decision would be made sometime Wednesday.

Wendell scored three times in the weekend series, is tied for the team lead in goals (26) and is second in points (53).

Along with teammate Natalie Darwitz, Wendell was named one of 10 finalists for the Patty Kazmaier Award last week, given to the most outstanding player in women’s college hockey.

Wendell’s injury comes at a tough time for the Gophers, who travel to second-ranked Minnesota-Duluth this weekend for a match-up with the WCHA’s top team.

In addition to missing Wendell, the team will be without junior forward Kristy Oonincx, suspended last week for “conduct detrimental to the team.”

Just three weeks remain in the regular season and the WCHA tournament is less than a month away. The NCAA Frozen Four (in Duluth) will be held March 21-23.

“The timing is not very good,” Halldorson said. “And that’s an understatement.”

But the Gophers head coach has experienced this type of adversity before.

“We were in a similar situation the year we won the national tournament (in 2000),” Halldorson said.

That year, Minnesota defender Winny Brodt suffered compression fractures to two of the vertebrae in her back against Minnesota State-Mankato and missed six weeks.

That injury occurred Jan. 15 and Brodt, a former WCHA Defensive Player of the Year and a senior on this year’s team, was able to come back for the final game in the WCHA tournament and contribute to the team’s national championship.

The Gophers can only hope they will be as lucky in regards to Wendell.

“That team rallied,” Halldorson said. “We just need to do the same.”

Brett Angel covers women’s hockey and welcomes comments at [email protected]