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Tyler Kleven returns to practice after injury last weekend

The Fighting Hawks hope defenseman Luke Bast will be available to play soon.

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UND's Tyler Kleven checks Bemidji State's Ethan Somoza to the ice in the first period of Saturday's game at the Ralph Engelstad Arena in Grand Forks Saturday, October 16, 2021. Photo by Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald
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GRAND FORKS — On Saturday night, UND coach Brad Berry was optimistic that top-pair defenseman Tyler Kleven would be able to return to the lineup for this weekend's series against Miami.

Kleven only played two shifts last weekend against Denver, suffering a lower-body injury just five minutes into Friday's game.

But this week, everything has been tracking well.

Kleven was a full participant at practice Wednesday and Berry expects his 6-foot-5, 213-pound junior blue liner to be in the lineup Friday night.

"He's playing," Berry said. "He's practiced the last few days. He'll be playing."

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That's good news for UND, which struggled to break the puck out of the defensive zone against Denver without Kleven.

Kleven has played most of the season on the left side of the top defensive pairing next to Ethan Frisch. Kleven also is a critical penalty killer and he's recently jumped on the second power-play unit. Kleven scored a power-play goal two weeks ago against Omaha.

Bast getting close

Kleven isn't the only one back at practice.

Sophomore defenseman Luke Bast, who has not played yet this season, has been skating this week.

Bast has been dealing with an upper-body injury since fall camp.

"He's close," Berry said. "I'd say it's a stretch for this weekend, but I would say I think there's a great chance he'll be playing against Bemidji."

UND plays Bemidji State in a week-and-a-half on Thanksgiving Day weekend. The series opener is in Bemidji. The series finale is in Grand Forks.

Bast played in 26 games as a rookie last season, tallying two goals and six points.

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He played a large role down the stretch when UND ran to the Penrose Cup as National Collegiate Hockey Conference champions despite a number of key injuries. But the Red Deer, Alta., product has barely skated this season.

"He hasn't played in a game all year, so it's just getting the timing side of it, getting the rust off and also the conditioning side of it," Berry said. "He's been going through the majority of our drills."

This week is the first time all season UND has had eight defensemen at practice.

"Having eight defensemen in practice is awesome," Berry said. "Normally, we go through six or seven guys because some guys are bumped up, but to have the reps of eight guys in practice is good."

UND remains without forward Dane Montgomery, who also has been dealing with a nagging injury since the summer.

Miami update

Miami has one key injury to watch.

Forward Red Savage, a Detroit Red Wings draft pick, left Saturday night's game late in the second period after he was hit just outside of the crease. He did not return.

Savage was centering Miami's top line with leading scorer Matthew Barbolini on his wing.

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Savage is tied as Miami's second-leading scorer with eight points in 12 games this season. He had 16 points in 35 games as a rookie.

Miami at No. 19 UND

When: 7:07 p.m. Friday, 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Records: Miami 4-6-2, UND 4-5-2.
TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622 HD).
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM) on Friday, Cat Country (100.3 FM) on Saturday.
Stream: NCHChockey.com.

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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