When the University of Wisconsin women’s hockey team begins practice next week, it will do so without its most decorated player.
UW coach Mark Johnson said Thursday that Stefanie McKeough, the Defensive Player of the Year in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 2011-12, will not play this season due to the effects of multiple concussions.
McKeough, a senior from Carlsbad Springs, Ontario, took a medical redshirt in 2012-13 while trying to recover from concussions suffered during the 2011-12 season.
“We came to a crossroads,” Johnson said.
McKeough, whose last appearance for the Badgers came in the 2012 NCAA title game when she scored a goal during a 4-2 loss to Minnesota, is currently enrolled in classes at UW, focused on finishing the 21 credits needed for a degree in retailing. She hasn’t ruled out playing again , but her priority is her health.
“I’ve pretty much come to the commitment that I’m going to try to get myself better,” McKeough said.
The two concussions McKeough suffered during her junior season left her with migraine headaches, vertigo, ringing in her ears and sensitivity to noise. She said she’s making progress, but not enough to get back on the ice and compete at a high level.
“I was always hoping best-case scenario,” she said, “but I can’t predict how I’m going to feel in six hours, so I don’t know how I’m going to feel in six weeks or six months.”
Senior Nick Janus scored in the 8th minute and redshirt freshman goalkeeper Casey Beyers registered his first career shutout as the Badgers blanked South Florida 2-0 in Tampa.
Senior Tomislav Zadrov picked up a pair of assists for UW.