Gavin Hain ended last season at the top of his game.
The forward from Grand Rapids, Minn., sent UND to the National Collegiate Hockey Conference title game with an overtime goal in the semifinals against Denver. The next night, he scored the game-tying goal in the third period as the Fighting Hawks rallied to win their first NCHC Frozen Faceoff title.
This weekend, Hain will get a chance to pick up where he left off.
Hain is expected to be back in the lineup when UND takes on Bemidji State at 7:07 p.m. Friday night in the Sanford Center. He missed last weekend's season-opening sweep against Niagara.
"Even though we got a couple of wins under our belt, we missed him in our lineup," UND coach Brad Berry said. "He brings a lot to our team. He had a really good week of practice. He's ready to go."
UND is expected to remain without junior forward Brendan Budy (lower-body injury) against the Beavers. Budy has yet to play this season.
Hain's return means difficult lineup decisions are on the horizon for the No. 7 Fighting Hawks.
"Our guys respect each other, but they also are very competitive and they want to be in the lineup," Berry said. "So, we've had some really good, spirited practices with some sharp execution. That's the beauty of having depth and competition in your lineup. We'll need everybody this year. There will be bumps and bruises and everybody will get into games, so if you're not in the lineup, you have to be patient and keep working to get there. If you're in the lineup, you've got to make sure you keep executing and keep playing at a high level there."
Hain won't be easing into the lineup this weekend. Berry said he could play special teams immediately.
"He's a big part of our penalty kill," Berry said.
Hain also is being spotted into the second power-play unit with Grand Forks native and freshman Jackson Kunz, who played the net front or goal line spot last weekend.
"They've platooned back and forth in practice here, having an experienced guy get an opportunity he deserves and having a young guy here try to fight for some ice time on the power play," Berry said. "We've been moving some guys around and Gavin is one of them, trying to get some looks."
Hain, a Philadelphia Flyers draft pick, had one power-play goal last season. He was not a regular on the power-play unit.
UND vs. Bemidji State
When: 7:07 p.m. Friday, 6:07 p.m. Saturday.
Where: Bemidji's Sanford Center on Friday; Ralph Engelstad Arena on Saturday.
TV: Midco Sports (GF Ch. 27/622 HD) on Saturday only.
Webcast: flohockey.tv on Friday, NCHC.tv on Saturday.
Radio: The Fox (96.1 FM).