Growing up, Tyler Kleven used to drive from Fargo to Grand Forks about four or five times a year to watch UND hockey games.
"My parents didn't have season tickets, but some of my buddies did," Kleven said. "I'd get to come up with them. It was so fun watching them."
Tonight, Kleven will get to play for UND in Ralph Engelstad Arena for the first time when the Fighting Hawks take on Colorado College at 6:07 p.m.
It has been a long wait for the UND rookies to play in The Ralph. The Fighting Hawks played their first 14 games of the season away from The Ralph -- 10 in the National Collegiate Hockey Conference Pod in Omaha, two at Colorado College and two at Denver.
"It's going to be pretty special," Kleven said. "I've gotten to play in The Ralph a couple times with Davies at state the year I was there. Back in a summer hockey tournament, I got to play there. Going to the games growing up, seeing all the fans, the Jumbotron at center ice, it's definitely a special place to play, and wearing the UND jersey, so much pride comes with that. I'm really excited."
Kleven has three goals in seven games for UND.
"I love it here," he said. "I have a great setup with Jake (Sanderson) in the dorms. Being at the rink every day, it's just a treat. It's so much fun. We're treated so well. The weight room is unreal. The food is great. The coaches definitely made it easy transitioning from USA to UND."
The UND rookies who could be playing their first games in Ralph Engelstad Arena today are Kleven, Sanderson, Cooper Moore, Riese Gaber, Griffin Ness and Louis Jamernik. Sophomore transfer Brendan Budy was on Denver's roster when the Pioneers came to Grand Forks during the 2018-19 season, but he did not play, so this could be his REA debut, too.
CC without Cruikshank
Colorado College will play its fifth- and sixth-straight games without captain and top goal-scorer Grant Cruikshank, who had an appendectomy in early January.
Cruikshank has six goals and eight points in 10 games.
The Tigers scored just one goal -- and none at even-strength -- in their two-game series against UND on Jan. 10-11 in World Arena in Colorado Springs. That lone goal was a power-play tally by Ben Copeland.