Whitehead impressed with Abbott’s performance after player’s return from concussion

Pete Warner/BDN
Buy Photo
By Pete Warner, BDN Staff
Posted March 24, 2012, at 3:59 p.m.

WORCESTER, Mass. — Spencer Abbott didn’t appear to have missed a beat.

Eight days after suffering a concussion during the University of Maine’s Hockey East semifinal against Boston University in Boston, Abbott was on the ice again Saturday night.

Abbott was given the medical OK to play by UMaine’s team physician only about an hour before the puck was dropped for the 7:30 p.m. contest.

“The doctor met me here at the rink and we did a few tests and then he cleared me,” Abbott said.

The senior left winger started in his usual spot on the first line for the Black Bears and scored a power-play goal in the 5-2 NCAA Northeast Regional loss to defending national champion Minnesota-Duluth at the DCU Center.

“How impressive was that?” asked UMaine coach Tim Whitehead. “If he’s not the Hobey [Baker Award winner], I’ll eat my shoes. Can you believe that performance after having a concussion, getting cleared to play today?”

Abbott played all of his regular shifts on the first line along with center Brian Flynn and right wing Joey Diamond and was on the first power-play unit. He managed only two shots as the Bulldogs harassed his line with a checking line.

Abbott absorbed a solid hit into the boards only 15 seconds into the game and was dishing out checks and taking them all night long. He did not appear to be slowed despite having worked his way slowly back during the previous seven days while following UMaine’s concussion return-to-play protocols.

“He’s one of the toughest kids I’ve ever coached,” Whitehead said. “He puts his body on the line and takes hits. He’s so slippery and so elusive. And to show that much poise and toughness after a concussion.”

The 23-year-old Abbott, the Hockey East Player of the Year and a semifinalist for the Hobey Baker Award, leads Division I hockey with 62 points (21 goals and 41 assists).

He finalized his scoring totals with a goal at 17:16 of the first period with UMaine on the power play.

Abbott received the puck from Brian Flynn high in the left circle and moved toward the high slot, first making a slight hesitation move. He patiently waited for things to develop, then fired a high wrist shot through traffic and past Minnesota-Duluth goaltender Kenny Reiter.

“He’d been out there for a minute and a half. Anyone else, I would have been screaming [for him] to get off,” Whitehead explained. “He creates magic out there sometimes.”

Abbott, who was not drafted by any National Hockey League teams, is likely to be getting some calls in the coming days.

“His poise and instincts are exceptional and he’s going to be playing pro hockey real soon,” Whitehead said. “He could help somebody’s power play in the NHL right now. I know that there’s a ton of teams that understand that.”

http://bangordailynews.com/2012/03/24/sports/umaine-sports/umaine-hockeys-regional-berth-continues-recent-successes-by-black-bear-teams/ printed on July 29, 2014