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Gophers Hockey: Amanda Kessel to return Friday

The 2013 Patty Kazmaier Award winner has been placed on Minnesota's roster for the rest of the season. She has not played a competitive game since the 2014 Sochi Olympics due to post-concussion issues.

Kessel back? Kessel back.
Kessel back? Kessel back.
Minnesota Athletics

Amanda Kessel is back playing hockey for the University of Minnesota beginning at home this weekend against North Dakota.

The Gophers (24-3-0, 19-3-0 WCHA) announced Wednesday that it will get the 2013 Patty Kazmaier Award winner on its roster for the rest of the year.

Minnesota had checked earlier and made she was cleared by the NCAA if Kessel, who has not played competitive hockey since the 2014 Sochi Olympics due to post-concussion symptoms, could be medically cleared. She had been working out and skating with the team to get back in shape, along with going to school at Minnesota. Although the team announced that she was doing so in the beginning of January, as late as 24 hours ago the Gophers were not counting on her playing this weekend.

Kessel had one last meeting and was cleared by doctors.

"I'm so happy to be playing hockey again," Kessel said in a statement released by the University. "I'm not suffering from any concussion symptoms, and I've been evaluated by a number of physicians who have cleared me to play. I feel great, and I'm looking forward to being back on the ice with my teammates on game day.

"Sometimes difficult things happen in life, and they only make you stronger. 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. I wouldn't be in this position without them. I cannot wait to be back out there doing what I love to do while representing the University of Minnesota."

A redshirt senior, Kessel played three seasons for Minnesota from 2010-2013. She has half a season of collegiate eligibility thanks to the Olympics and a medical redshirt year in 2014-15. The Madison native is fifth all-time for the Gophers in career points (231) and goals (97). Prior to winning a silver medal with Team USA, she finished her junior season with 101 points (46G-55A) in 41 games.

Minnesota went an undefeated 41-0 that year en route to its second consecutive national championship.

Only 5 players, including Kessel's linemate from 2012-13 Hannah Brandt, remain from that team.

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Nathan Wells is a college hockey columnist for SB Nation mostly covering both the University of Minnesota and Big Ten. You can also follow him on Twitter --