(Author's note: I wrote this Monday for a publication that ended up not using it. Putting it up on the blog now just for posterity.)
Freshman defenseman Ryan Lindgren will undergo surgery later this week and miss the rest of the season with a leg injury suffered Saturday.
“Ryan was having a really great year for us as a freshman, and you hate to see such a promising season end this way,” Minnesota head coach Don Lucia said in a statement Monday. “It’s tough to lose him for the postseason, but we have a great medical team here at the University of Minnesota, and we know we’ll have him back soon.”
Lindgren, named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team Monday, finishes with a goal and seven assists in 32 games playing on the team’s top pairing with Jake Bischoff.
He was injured late in the second period of Saturday’s 1-1 tie as he battled Michigan State’s Taro Hirose for the puck on a waved-off icing play. The Minneapolis, MN native went feet first into the boards and was visibly in pain.
Lindgren had to be helped off the ice, unable to put weight on his right leg and didn’t go to the bench.
It’s an unfortunate end of the season for Lindgren, who joins sophomore forward Tommy Novak on the team’s injured list. Lindgren won a gold medal with Team USA in the 2017 World Junior Championships, but was unable to play in the gold medal game due to illness. He eventually lost 10 lbs and had to spend time in the hospital.
“When someone else gets hurt, it’s someone else’s opportunity,” Lucia said following Saturday’s game.
Junior defenseman Jack Glover will be the likely replacement for Lindgren. Glover does have experience on the blue line, appearing in 36 games last season before undergoing double shoulder surgery last offseason.
Glover has appeared in two games in 2017 due to Minnesota being content with the six defenders playing on the blue line. He did skate in warmups as recently as March 4th against Michigan, though.
Lucia praised Glover’s attitude Saturday, as did captain Justin Kloos.
“We have plenty of confidence in Glover. He’s a good player,” he said. “I’m looking forward to him being in the lineup. He’s great in the locker room. He’s been great with not being in the lineup and I think he’ll step in and do a good job.”
Besides Glover, the only defenseman eligible to play for the Gophers is sophomore Curt Simonson, who has yet to appear in a college game.
Minnesota is also hoping to get back redshirt junior forward Mike Szmatula for Friday’s Big Ten semifinal game against either Penn State or Michigan.
Szmatula has missed the last 7 games due to a lower body injury suffered in the third period of the Gophers’ 6-3 win against PSU February 17th.