'I've been watching UND my whole life': Fargo defenseman Tyler Kleven commits to UND
The recruiting interest first started in January for Tyler Kleven.
By the time he concluded his impressive performance at the USA Hockey Select 15s this month in upstate New York, the defenseman from Fargo had offers from all across the college hockey land: North Dakota, Minnesota, Minnesota Duluth, Wisconsin, Boston University, Michigan, Notre Dame, Denver, Omaha, St. Cloud State, Western Michigan, Michigan State and Ohio State.
On Wednesday night, UND won out.
Kleven made a verbal commitment to head coach Brad Berry and revealed his decision on Thursday morning.
“I’ve been watching UND my entire life,” said Kleven, who travels to Ralph Engelstad Arena roughly six times a year. “Every time we go up there, it’s just a great experience. I love it every time. I also love UND because it’s close to home and nothing beats that.
“Brad is just an amazing coach and I love what he does with the team. I’m extremely excited to be a part of UND.”
Kleven played bantams last year for the Fargo Freeze. He’s expected to play varsity this year for Fargo Davies as a sophomore. He’ll also play in the High School Elite League in the Twin Cities this fall.
While one scout told the Herald that Kleven is a “punishing defender,” the 2002-born, 6-foot-2, 175-pound blue liner said he also likes to add offense.
“I like to jump up in the play,” he said. “I like to play the body a little bit and play physical and I like getting the puck out of the zone and into the rush.”
Despite being the state's largest city, Fargo hasn't been a hotbed for UND. Kleven will be the first Fargo product to play for UND since goalie Aaron Walski (2005-09) and the first skater from Fargo since Pat O'Leary (2000-01).
He’ll be the first UND hockey player from the south end of Fargo in at least 60 years.
UND now has future commitments from four North Dakotans in Kleven, 2000-born Braden Costello of Grand Forks, 2001-born Judd Caulfield of Grand Forks and 2002-born Jackson Kunz of Grand Forks. Moorhead's Ethan Frisch, a 2000-born defenseman, also is committed to UND.
Kleven has played with Caulfield, Kunz and Frisch before. This week, he’s attending a hockey camp by former UND defenseman Brian Lee in Moorhead.
Kleven’s father, Chris, played college hockey at Northern Michigan, but Tyler has long been a UND fan.
“There’s nothing better,” he said.