Kangas’ Gopher career in jeopardy

Posted by: Dan Myers

According to Roman Augustoviz of the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Minnesota senior goaltender Alex Kangas re-injured himself in practice Monday — an injury which has now put his season, and collegiate career, in jeopardy.

Kangas last appeared in a game Dec. 3 at Minnesota State. He sustained the injury in practice Dec. 11 — a day the Gophers were originally scheduled to play Minnesota Duluth. The game was moved back, however because of a snowstorm in the Twin Cities.

Gophers coach Don Lucia has yet to confirm the exact location and nature of the injury, but has hinted that surgery may now be necessary to correct the issue. A source close to Kangas has told Augustoviz that Kangas is suffering from a hip injury.

Kent Patterson has filled in full time with Kangas on the shelf. His .917 save percentage is fifth in the WCHA, so there is no immediate concern about a drop off in play. Both Patterson’s save percentage and goals against average have been significantly better than Kangas’ this season.

Where the Gophers need to be concerned is in regards to their depth. With Kangas seemingly unavailable, Jake Kremer assumes the No. 2 hole behind Patterson. Kremer, a junior from Eden Prairie, Minn., has never played in game that counts.

More importantly, with only two healthy goaltenders, the Gophers may be forced to significantly adjust their practice schedule. Most schools carry a third goaltender just for practice purposes. This injury may force Minnesota to get creative in that quest — by either shortening practices for their goaltenders, giving Patterson days off, or by recruiting a goaltender off the school’s club team — which other teams have done in the past.

Minnesota is locked in a battle with Wisconsin and others for the final home ice slot in the WCHA playoffs. The Gophers head to Grand Forks this weekend for a series against No. 2 North Dakota, with Minnesota on the verge of dropping out of the Pairwise picture altogether. The Gophers have missed the last two NCAA Tournaments and the seat of Lucia’s office chair has grown increasingly warm over the last 24 months.

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