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Ashton Calder prepared to return to lineup Saturday

The UND senior forward has been out since suffering an arm injury Thanksgiving weekend.

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UMD goalie Ryan Fanti blocks UND's Ashton Calder's shot in the first period Friday, Nov. 19, 2021.
Eric Hylden/Grand Forks Herald

Ashton Calder isn't used to sitting out.

During his first three seasons of college hockey at Lake Superior State, he played in 107 of the team's 108 games. The only time he missed a game was a month into his rookie season.

He came to UND having played in 100 consecutive games.

That streak ended at 114 games, when Calder was slashed on the arm during a Thanksgiving weekend game against Minnesota and was forced to miss UND's final five games of the first half of the season.

"Obviously, nobody ever wants to not play," Calder said. "In my college career, I don't think I've really ever sat out, so it was definitely new. So, you've just got to help the team in a different way — from stands or cheering from back home — and just do the best I could to help the guys out."

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Calder, who has 14 points in 14 games this season, is expected to make his return for the Fighting Hawks during Saturday's exhibition game against the U.S. Under-18 Team.

"Before we left home for break, I skated by myself up on the Olympic ice, kind of just trying to stay in shape as much as I could," Calder said. "Obviously, it's kind of hard. Then, back home over break, I skated every day almost with pretty high-caliber players and doing some drills. I feel pretty good coming back, especially being out for so long."

Calder has played on the team's top two lines all season and has bounced between the first and second power-play units.

"To see him on the ice with his experience and what he can do, it's exciting," UND coach Brad Berry said. "I know he's excited to be back. I was talking with him today and he said it's absolutely terrible being out of the lineup because No. 1, you're not part of the group, and No. 2, you lose a little bit. But he didn't look like he was out of shape. He looked very sharp and we're excited to have him back in our group."

Big game for Bast, Johnson

Although the World Junior Championship was canceled Wednesday, it's unclear when UND sophomore blue liners Jake Sanderson and Tyler Kleven will be back in Grand Forks and whether they'll play in Saturday's exhibition.

Either way, it's expected to be a showcase game for Luke Bast and Brent Johnson, two rookies who have been in-and-out of the lineup.

"They're going to get called upon in certain situations to show what they have," Berry said. "It's always tough being out of the lineup for an extended period of time and coming back in, but they've had some really good practices here."

Bast said he's looking forward to the opportunity.

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"Obviously, it creates some opportunities for Johnny and myself," Bast said. "It's a chance for us to maybe earn something there and I'm looking forward to it."

UND vs. U.S. Under-18 Team

When: 2:37 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Ralph Engelstad Arena.
TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622 HD).
Stream: NCHC.tv.
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).

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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