Gabe Bast on his return to the lineup: 'It felt like I hadn't played in 10 weeks'

UND junior defenseman fights for positioning with U.S. Under-18 Team forward Thomas Bordeleau on Saturday night in USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich. Photo by Rena Laverty / USA Hockey

PLYMOUTH, Mich. -- Gabe Bast stood in a suit outside of UND's locker room at USA Hockey Arena on Saturday night with sweat still dripping off of his forehand.

The junior defenseman had just helped UND to a 3-1 exhibition win over the U.S. Under-18 Team in his first action since suffering an upper-body injury Oct. 19 at Minnesota State-Mankato.

How did it feel?

"I felt like I hadn't played in 10 weeks," he said.

It was hard to tell.


Bast appeared to quickly regain his form, playing big minutes and getting an opportunity to reclaim his spot on UND's power-play unit. He registered an assist on UND's first goal of the game, too.

"You know what?" Bast said. "I actually felt better than I thought I would. Obviously, it's tough coming back from that type of injury. But I think after the first period, I kind of got my legs underneath me and I started to make some plays."

What was the biggest challenge?

"Just getting back into game shape," Bast said. "You can practice and do all the conditioning you want, but there's nothing like battling in a game, shift after shift. That's definitely the toughest part.

"That's something I've got to work on these next couple weeks -- getting myself back into game shape and getting ready for the stretch run here."

Bast was prepared to play a big role this season.

He spent the summer in Vancouver, living and training with NHL players like Tyson Jost, Dante Fabbro and Mathew Barzal . Bast ate a strict diet and returned to campus in the fall 15 pounds lighter, saying it was the best he's ever felt.

He got off to a fast start, tallying two goals and three points in the first three games, but went out with an injury in Game 4.


Bast returned to practice in early December with the goal of playing in the exhibition in Plymouth.

"I thought he was solid," UND coach Brad Berry said. "It's always tough when you miss almost half the season, coming back. I thought he did a good job of moving pucks. He didn't put himself in bad situations. It's encouraging. You always wonder what you're going to get after being off for a few months, but I thought he did a good job. I'm looking forward to the week ahead, building for Huntsville with him.

"He's ultra competitive. I know he's been out for a while, but when you're a hockey player and you're competitive, it doesn't take you long to get back in the swing of things. I know it's going to get exponentially harder and harder here the next few weeks, so he'll have to be ready for it."

Bast's return comes at a good time for UND.

The Fighting Hawks will be without their leading defenseman scorer, Jacob Bernard-Docker, for next weekend's home series against Alabama Huntsville. Bernard-Docker is in the Czech Republic with the World Junior team. Senior defenseman and captain Colton Poolman's status also is unknown after he missed the exhibition with an illness.

In their absence, Bast got a chance to play on the power-play unit, but he said he's not sure if he will continue with that group this week. The power play has been clicking at 26.4 percent in the last 10 games.

"It was obviously exhibition, I'm not sure what's going to happen next week," Bast said. "But it was nice to get a little power-play time."

Adams shines in home state

UND junior forward Collin Adams, playing just minutes away from his hometown of Brighton, Mich., was perhaps the most impactful player on the ice Saturday.


Adams made a beautiful feed to set up UND's first goal. He wheeled around the right circle and with a defender draped on him, Adams made a perfect backhand pass to an open Jonny Tychonick.

Then, Adams finished off a feed from linemate Grant Mismash for a 2-on-1 goal, which stood as the game-winner.

"Then, he proceeded to block a shot in a key part of the game on D-zone coverage," Berry said.

UND's players hammered their sticks on the boards in appreciation of the shot block in the third period.


Other notes

  • Berry on playing shorthanded without leading scorer Jordan Kawaguchi (illness), leading goal-scorer Shane Pinto (World Juniors), Bernard-Docker, Poolman and Harrison Blaisdell (illness): "We had a lot of guys out of the lineup. It could have gone the other way. Any time you can come away with a win against a good team over there, it's a big deal."
  • UND tried different players on both the power play and penalty kill units. "It's a good chance to try to find some things out and get a body of work on some guys," Berry said.
  • UND athletic trainer Mark Poolman got hit in the face by a stick during the game and had a large gash on his forehead.
  • UND improved to 11-0 all-time against the U.S. Under-18 Team.

UND defenseman Gabe Bast battles with U.S. Under-18 Team forward Thomas Bordeleau for positioning Saturday in USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth, Mich. Photo by Rena Laverty / USA Hockey

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
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