HANOVER, N.H. — Dartmouth forward Hugh Jessiman, a 2003 NHL first-round draft pick of the New York Rangers, will return to the lineup tonight against Harvard after a three-and-a-half-month layoff.
Jessiman has been sidelined since tearing two ligaments in his right ankle during a loss to Princeton on Nov. 6. The Rangers’ orthopedic surgeon repaired the injury by inserting two screws into the bone above his ankle.
Jessiman always remained hopeful he could return by the end of the season, and after months of rehab, got clearance from medical doctors to return to practice two weeks ago. Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet was satisfied after Thursday’s practice that Jessiman was ready to play.
“He’s excited about playing, real excited,” said Gaudet to the Valley News of New Hampshire. “I know him really well and I know he’s been through a lot, and to progress to this level and feel good and have the doctor clear him to play, I think it’s really exciting for Hugh.”
According to the Valley News, the ligaments are totally healed, though Jessiman will wear a Kevlar guard on the bone above his skate boot for extra protection because there are still holes there from the screws.
“I’ve felt pretty good out there,” Jessiman told the Valley News. “Physically, maybe I’m not all there, but mentally I’m ready to go. It’s been 15 weeks doing a lot of thinking on the couch about how I’m going to be ready to when I get back. … I may get tired out there, but my heart won’t be tired, that’s for sure.”
Jessiman, a junior, is expected to play left wing on a line with Tanner Glass and David Jones.
“Part of it I have to leave up to Hugh, to see how he’s feeling,” said Gaudet to the paper. “It’s not the ankle; it’s the conditioning level. But, quite honestly, he looks quite good in practice.”