WORCESTER, Mass. -- As soon as I heard what happened to Maine senior forward Spencer Abbott -- a Hobey Baker finalist -- I knew this was going to be a story throughout the week.
Abbott sustained a head injury during the Black Bears' 5-3 win over Boston University in last week's Hockey East semifinals in Boston. He has not practiced much this week, but did skate without taking contact during Friday's workout at DCU Center.
Whitehead confirmed the terminology "game-time decision" to me Friday, not that it was really a surprise to anyone.
"Unfortunately, we have got to be patient," Maine head coach Tim Whitehead said Friday. "These are the kind of injuries that you don't mess around with.
"This isn't something that you say 'Hey, he's gonna give it a try,' or see how it feels. He's either cleared or he's not."
Pressed at Friday's press conference for details on the process Abbott must work through to be allowed on the ice Saturday, Whitehead made it abundantly clear that clearance could come in time for Abbott to play, even if it might seem somewhat unlikely.
In a conversation I had with him after the press conference, Whitehead joked that it seems you almost "need a presidential pardon to get cleared from a head injury," but he is fully understanding of the protocol that his star player must pass.
While it isn't clear if Abbott will play on Saturday, Whitehead is confident that his team will be okay if it doesn't work out in the Black Bears' favor.
"It’s been a week now," Whitehead said, "and I thought we handled the situation well against BU. We were able to bounce right back after three minutes and get the game-winning goal. . . I think the BU game was almost a microcosm of our season with our team.
"We’ve handled adversity within the game and off the ice with anything that’s thrown at us, and the boys have handled it very well. So I think we’re prepared and now we’ve had a week to adjust to it as well. So I think if he’s not playing we’ll certainly be ready, and if he is that’s just a bonus."
UMD is reporting no injuries. Expect a similar lineup to what you have seen so far in the playoffs.