Potulny to miss four months with knee injury

By Al Alven

Flyers prospect Ryan Potulny, a freshman forward at the University of Minnesota, will be out of action for an estimated four months after damaging the lateral collateral ligament in his left knee.

The injury occurred last Friday, during a 7-3 loss at North Dakota. On the play, Potulny was holding the puck against the boards. As he attempted to move out, his knee twisted while his foot stayed planted.

Potulny felt a twinge, but continued to play. In fact, he participated in the Gophers’ 7-5 loss at North Dakota the following day (he tallied an assist in each of the games against the Fighting Sioux). He felt pain in the knee throughout the week, but was shocked to learn of the prognosis on Monday.

“I had a little pain Saturday, but it wasn’t too swelled up,” he said. “I didn’t think too much of it. I was really surprised to hear this.”

Surgery is scheduled for tomorrow. Team physician and orthopedist Dr. Robert LaPrade suggested that the ligament be repaired as soon as possible to ensure that the joint is strong and healthy in the future.

“We’re extremely disappointed to lose Ryan from our lineup,” Gophers head coach Don Lucia said. “He’s still going to be an outstanding player for us. We’ll miss him for the bulk of this season, but this is just a short-term setback for what promises to be a great long-term career.”

Lucia has already indicated that Potulny will redshirt the season. To be eligible, a player can appear in no more than 20 percent of his team’s games in a season. Potulny has played in 8 contests and the Gophers are scheduled to play at least 40 times this year.

“More than likely, I think that’s what will happen,” Lucia said.

News of Potulny’s injury hit the team hard. The Gophers are just 2-6 in the early going, struggling with a host of other injuries and inconsistent play. Now, the defending national champions have to deal with the loss of one of their top freshman recruits.

Potulny was off to a good start to his collegiate career. The Grand Forks, North Dakota native had not registered a goal in his first eight games, but his 5 assists did lead the team. He was selected by the Flyers in the third round (87th overall) of last June’s NHL Entry Draft.

Last season, Potulny led the USHL in scoring with 78 points (35 goals, 43 assists) in 54 games en route to guiding the Lincoln Stars to the league championship. For his efforts, he also took home USHL Player of the Year, Top Forward and First All-Star honors.

Potulny’s older brother, Grant, is a senior captain for the Gophers.