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NCHC suspends Tyler Kleven for series finale against Western Michigan

The UND junior defenseman was called for a five-minute major for cross-checking Jason Polin in the head on Friday night.

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Fighting Hawks defenseman Tyler Kleven drops USA Under-18 forward Will Vote (22) to the ice at Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks during the first period of an exhibition men's hockey game on Saturday, December 31, 2022.
Nick Nelson / Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — UND is taking on Western Michigan, which has the No. 1-ranked scoring offense in the nation, on Saturday night.

It will do so without its top-pair shutdown defender.

The National Collegiate Hockey Conference has suspended Tyler Kleven for one game for his contact-to-the-head major during Friday night's series opener.

Late in the second period, Kleven cross-checked Western Michigan's leading goal-scorer, Jason Polin, up high out of frustration after being sent into the boards without a call. Kleven was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct on the play.

Polin scored on the ensuing power play to put the Broncos ahead 3-0.

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Kleven will miss the series finale against the Broncos at 6:07 p.m. Saturday in Ralph Engelstad Arena. He will be eligible to return next Friday when UND hosts Minnesota Duluth in an NCHC series.

Kleven has been called for two game misconducts this season — one for a check on Minnesota's Brody Lamb in October and another Friday night. Any future game misconducts will carry an automatic NCAA-imposed one-game suspension.

The 6-foot-5, 213-pound Kleven has been called for six game misconducts during his college career.

The Ottawa Senators second-round pick had one as a freshman and three last season.

Last season's third game misconduct, which came in the first round of the NCHC playoffs against Colorado College, triggered the automatic one-game suspension. He sat out the NCHC Frozen Faceoff semifinal game against Western Michigan. The Broncos won 4-2.

Kleven's presence will be missed against Western Michigan.

In the first three games between the teams, Kleven and defensive partner Ethan Frisch frequently matched up against Western Michigan's top line of Polin, Max Sasson and Ryan McAllister — the NCAA's highest-scoring trio.

They held them without a point in the two-game series in Kalamazoo. On Friday, that trio had six points — five of which occurred after Kleven's ejection.

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Kleven also has been a key part of UND's second power-play unit.

He's the reigning NCHC defenseman of the week after scoring four goals in a two-game series against Lindenwood. Kleven scored three of them on the power play, where the Fighting Hawks utilize his heavy one-timer.

Kleven is the fifth player the NCHC has suspended this season.

UND's Griffin Ness, St. Cloud State's Brendan Bushy and Minnesota Duluth's Wyatt Kaiser all were issued one-game suspensions for contact-to-the-head majors. Minnesota Duluth freshman Isaac Howard was issued a two-game suspension for a contact-to-the-head major.

Schlossman has covered college hockey for the Grand Forks Herald since 2005. He has been recognized by the Associated Press Sports Editors as the top beat writer for the Herald's circulation division four times and the North Dakota sportswriter of the year once. He resides in Grand Forks. Reach him at bschlossman@gfherald.com.
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