Minnesota Duluth’s Tufte overcomes ‘worst pain that I’ve ever had’ in Frozen Four semifinal

Minnesota Duluth’s Riley Tufte (27) returned from an ankle injury in Thursday’s Frozen Four semifinals against Ohio State (photo: Melissa Wade).

ST. PAUL, Minn. — Minnesota Duluth had jumped out to an early two-goal lead against Ohio State on Thursday evening, but fans may have been left with an uneasy feeling when they saw Riley Tufte heading down the tunnel.

The big left winger was left hobbled after he took a hit from the Buckeyes’ Dakota Joshua. The hit didn’t result in a penalty.

The hit looked like it may have been to his knee, but Tufte said that it aggravated an ankle injury that he had been carrying.

“I sprained it earlier in the season and have been taping my ankle ever sense,” he said after the game. “It was getting a lot better but I kind of got blind-sided there and my foot got caught. It was something that I needed to walk off. I thought I broke my ankle there for a second. It was the worst pain that I’ve ever had.”

Tufte was absent from the ice for about five to 10 minutes, but returned before the first period concluded.

“It stung for a while,” he said. “It’s something that you have to play through. Adrenaline helps; there’s so much energy in this building and you’re playing for a national championship. So I really just battled it out and tried to do it for the guys.”

Tufte finished the game with one shot on goal. The first-round draft pick of the NHL’s Dallas Stars in 2016 took an elbowing penalty early in the third period.