Gophers star Amanda Kessel set to return

Gophers star Amanda Kessel last played for Team USA at the Sochi Olympics before suffering from concussion symptoms that kept her out of hockey for more than a year.

Richard Mackson/Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

MINNEAPOLIS — Former national player of the year Amanda Kessel is returning to play at Minnesota one year after saying she was finished playing hockey because of ongoing concussion issues.

The Golden Gophers announced Kessel’s return on Wednesday.

Kessel was a two-time All-American and won the Patty Kazmaier award as the nation’s top player in 2013, when she led the Gophers to a 41-0 season and the school’s fifth national title.

Kessel redshirted in 2013-14 to play for the United States in the Sochi Olympics and sat out all of last season while recovering from a concussion.

"We’re excited to have Amanda returning to the lineup," Gophers hockey coach Brad Frost said in a statement. "Her recovery and overall health have always been most important, and we weren’t sure if she would have the opportunity to play college hockey again."

Kessel says she has no lingering symptoms from the concussion and doctors have cleared her to play.

"Sometimes difficult things happen in life, and they only make you stronger," Kessel said in a statement. "It was extremely challenging, but I did everything I could to get healthy. I’m grateful for everyone who helped and supported me throughout the difficult times."

Kessel was one of the most electrifying players in college hockey during her first three seasons with the Gophers, becoming just the fourth player in NCAA history to reach the 100-point mark when she racked up 101 points (46 goals, 55 assists) in 2013.

The single-season record, set by fellow Gophers forward Natalie Darwitz in 2005, is 114 points.

She will make her return on Friday against North Dakota.