UND sophomore defenseman Tyler Kleven spoke with the Herald this week.
Q. This weekend will mark your team’s first road game of the season. You’ll be on the road a lot this month (Quinnipiac and Nashville follow). How do you feel about that?
A. I’m excited to spend a lot more time with the guys. I think we get closer on road trips, being with each other so much. It will be a good starter road trip, only a two-hour drive. I’ve been there, too. I know what it’s going to be like. Everyone is excited to play.
Q. You’re getting an opportunity on the power play this season. How is that going?
A. It’s been good so far. I’ve been creating some chances so far -- a couple good shots on net where it has been a Grade-A chance of going in. I think if I can keep doing that, I can hopefully produce for my team. That’s the main thing.
Q. I know you weren’t a regular on the power play as a freshman last season or with the U.S. Under-18 Team. When is the last time you’ve been a regular on the power play?
A. Growing up, we never really had power-play units at Fargo Davies.Going from Davies to the U17s, we had four different units at the 17 level. You’d get out there maybe once a game if lucky. I haven’t had a ton of power-play time. I’ve watched so much and I’ve learned so much. I definitely feel, on the power play, I can do big things.
Q. What parts of your game have you worked on to be ready for the opportunity on the power play?
A. I work on one-timers all the time. I try to get my shot to be as hard and accurate as possible. I think that watching YouTube videos and getting videos from the coaches and all that stuff. . . I’ve picked up a lot. I’m definitely ready for it.
Q. You’re a left-handed defenseman who has been moved to play the right side of the ice so far this season. How do you feel about that?
A. I actually really like it. It really opens me up for future possibilities with not only being a left-hander but being a left-hander (who is able to play) on the right side. I think the adjustment has been pretty easy. I’ve been able to get a couple more one-timers off. It’s kind of hard to get a one-timer off when you’re always playing the left side.
Q. Have you played the right side much in your career?
A. You might get thrown into the offensive zone on the right side, so over time, you definitely play on the right side plenty. We practice it all the time, too, running the blue line, catching passes on your backhand, going downhill in the offensive zone. There’s a lot of practice time that has gone into playing both sides, so I definitely feel ready for this.
Q. Are there any big adjustments you have to make?
A. Not really, but maybe just changing (lines) is a little different. On the right side, you’re always caught on the far side (away from the bench). That’s the main thing. Right-handed defensemen are always on the far side except for the second period. Being able to change and keep energy is one of the main things you have to look out for.
Q. What do you think about your defensive partner, Chris Jandric?
A. He’s a really smart defenseman. He’s always making smart, simple plays. He’s able to join the rush with his skating ability. He’s a fantastic skater, quick and agile. He’s able to catch and move the puck. He makes really smart passes. That’s one of his strengths. We’ve definitely worked well together so far, being able to connect on passes and work with each other so we can shut down plays effectively and work into the offensive zone.
Q. You’re able to change games with big hits and physicality. How do you keep that as part of your game without taking major penalties?
A. I think there are a lot of factors that go into it. First of all, knowing the time and place you’re going to have a big hit. It’s usually a smart idea to get a hit in the early part of the game rather than the last couple minutes of a game. The other part is being able to use my angling rather than going straight at guys. That’s a big deal. It’s not as much of a trainwreck hit. It’s more of a rub into the boards. Timing is a big thing, too. If a forward is coming at you looking at you, he’s going to jump by you. You need to get your stick on the puck and use your body to get in the way. Those are the main things.