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UNH defenseman van Riemsdyk out up to six weeks with broken ankle

When UNH defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk took a check into the boards Saturday against Union, slumped to the ice and wasn’t able to skate off, everyone in attendance at the Whittemore Center knew it was bad.

Yesterday, Coach Dick Umile detailed how bad. Addressing the injury publicly for the first time since the Wildcats’ 3-1 loss, Umile confirmed a fractured left ankle for van Riemsdyk, and stated that his recovery should take approximately six weeks, putting his return in line with the end of the regular season and start of the Hockey East playoffs.

“We might not get Trevor back until the playoffs,” he said. “It’s going to be that long. … Maybe it will be sooner, maybe it will be a week later. I don’t know.”

There was some good news for the Wildcats, who will also be without top-six forward Grayson Downing for three-to-four weeks with a sprained shoulder and backup goalie Jeff Wyer for at least three weeks with an injured meniscus. The fact that van Riemsdyk is expected back in time for the postseason is an improvement on earlier reports that said the defenseman would be out for the year, and Umile said that the junior didn’t suffer any additional damage to the ankle, adding that he shouldn’t need surgery.

Still, the injury is a major blow to a UNH team that is trying to finish the second half of its Hockey East slate on a high note and secure one of the byes that go to the top five teams at the end of the season. Van Riemsdyk has played in the top defensive pairing with Eric Knodel all year, he leads the team with 19 assists and his vision and puck-handling skills on offense have made him a vital part of the power play.

“Other people have to step up and fill roles. Are we capable of doing that? I think we are,” said Umile, who said Matias Cleland and Harry Quast are candidates for the open power play spot. “That doesn’t (mean) that we’re going to not miss Trevor. He might be the best defenseman in the country, let alone Hockey East, and he does a lot for you.”

Downing is fourth on the team with nine goals, and also has seven assists. Wyer is 2-2-1 in six games with a 2.89 goals against average and .883 save percentage.

(Drew Bonifant can be reached at 369-3340 or at abonifant@cmonitor.com or via Twitter @dbonifant.)

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