Gophers senior forward Jay Barriball will miss the rest of the season after suffering a knee injury in practice on Tuesday, delivering a stomach punch to an offense already struggling for consistent productivity.
“There’s no question it’s a blow,” Gophers head coach Don Lucia said in a press briefing. “When you look at losing one of your top players, and one of your top offensive players, there’s a void.”
Barriball collided with a teammate during a routine drill at Tuesday’s practice and will undergo surgery on Friday, just hours before the Gophers open a two-game set with the Wisconsin Badgers at the Kohl Center in Madison. He’ll be joined on the sidelines by freshman defenseman Nick Leddy, who will miss at least six weeks after breaking his jaw in Friday night’s game against Alaska-Anchorage.
Article continues below ...
Barriball has played in just five of the Gophers’ six games thus far this year, making him eligible for a medical redshirt that could pave the way for his return to the team next fall.
The Prior Lake native and Holy Angels graduate is the Gophers’ most experienced and productive forward with 102 career points — 43 more than the next-closest player on the current roster. He has two goals and two assists in his five games played this year for a team that’s averaging just 2.0 goals per game in WCHA play.
“It’s going to be an opportunity for somebody else — that’s how you’ve got to view it,” Lucia said. “Somebody else is going to get an opportunity for more ice time … some of these players are going to have to step up for us to be successful.”