UND in the minors: Ethan Frisch, Tyler Kleven posting strong marks

Feb. 5—GRAND FORKS — Ethan Frisch's pro career didn't have the best start.

After making the American Hockey League's San Jose Barracuda roster, Frisch suffered a strained and partially torn sartorius muscle, which runs from the knee to the hip. It kept him out four weeks.

When he came back, he suffered a concussion and a facial laceration that required 17 stitches. He missed more time.

Frisch is now healthy and thriving.

The former Moorhead High and UND defenseman has four points and is plus-5 in his last five games.

Frisch leads the San Jose Barracuda, an affiliate of the NHL's Sharks, with a plus-13 rating. Nobody else on the roster is better than plus-8.

"Once the new year started, I got to play a good stretch of games," Frisch said. "I've been healthy. I'm getting some confidence and starting to play my game."

Frisch's plus-13 mark is even more impressive considering San Jose is in last place in its division and 29th of 32 AHL teams.

"The biggest transition to pro hockey is everyone is a little bigger, a little faster and a little stronger," Frisch said. "You're no longer as physically dominant like in college. In college, my senior year, you're playing against younger freshmen and sophomores who might not be as physically mature.

"The playmaking is more crisp, too. I don't think anyone is way faster, but the playmaking is more crisp, which makes the game faster. Making sure you have attention to detail is important at the pro level."

Frisch, who played at UND from 2019-23, is on a one-year AHL contract with San Jose. He'll be a free agent at the end of the season.

He's putting himself in good position for a second pro contract.

"We haven't had the strongest year, but getting to learn from that, going through adversity and realizing you really have to take care of your own end and work from the defensive side, playing positionally sound against bigger and stronger guys, has been a big part of growth and development," Frisch said. "I learned a great foundation from the University of North Dakota. Everything from there transitioned really well to the pro game."

Frisch isn't the only former UND blue liner excelling in his rookie season of pro hockey.

Tyler Kleven, his old defensive partner, is doing the same for Ottawa's top minor-league affiliate, the Belleville Senators.

Kleven is leading Belleville with a plus-8 rating. Nobody else on the roster is better than plus-4.

Frisch and Kleven are two of five rookies in the 32-team league to lead their squads in plus-minus.

Kleven earned a brief call-up to the NHL and skated five games with the Senators before returning to Belleville.

Kleven, who played prep hockey at Fargo Davies, also scored a highlight-reel goal in January against Laval, splitting two defensemen and wristing the puck past the goaltender.

Former UND players Matt Kiersted of the Charlotte Checkers and Tyson Jost of the Rochester Americans recently played in the Queen City Outdoor Classic.

The game was played on Jan. 13 at Truist Field, the usual home of the Charlotte Knights. The Knights are the top minor-league affiliate of the Chicago White Sox.

The game drew 11,031. It was the largest crowd to watch a sporting event in the park, which opened in 2014.

Kiersted tallied an assist and Charlotte beat Rochester 5-2. Kiersted also was whistled for a fighting major with 2 seconds left in the game.

For the season, Kiersted has two goals and seven points in 31 games for Charlotte, the top minor-league affiliate of the Florida Panthers. Kiersted is in the second year of his two-year contract with the Florida Panthers.

Jost has tallied two goals and 12 points in 14 games for Rochester since being sent to the minors by the Buffalo Sabres. Jost is on a one-year deal with the Sabres.

Former UND forward Rocco Grimaldi participated in the AHL All-Star Game on Monday night.

He was UND's lone participant.

Grimaldi scored two goals and tallied four points in three mini-games, finishing second in points. Only MVP Arshdeep Bains (five points) had more.

Grimaldi ranks third in the AHL with 22 goals for the Chicago Wolves. He has 38 points in 40 games.

* Defenseman Keaton Thompson of Devils Lake left the Milwaukee Admirals to play for Mannheim in Germany's top league.

* Forward Judd Caulfield of Grand Forks had 11 points in 12 games for the AHL's San Diego Gulls in the month of December.

* Three former UND forwards who are currently in the ECHL have had call-ups to the AHL this season — Gavin Hain, Mark Senden and Ashton Calder.

* Former UND forward Wade Murphy is the second-leading scorer in the ECHL with 52 points in 43 games for Idaho. He's on a seven-game point streak.

* Former Hobey Baker Award finalist Jordan Kawaguchi officially made his return to pro hockey last weekend for the Idaho Steelheads in the ECHL. Kawaguchi was the team's MVP last season. He had one assist over the weekend and was named Idaho's No. 2 star of the game.

* Austin Poganski (Tucson) and Jasper Weatherby (Milwaukee) are on first-place teams.


Drake Caggiula, Bakersfield, 8-20—28 in 28 GP

Ashton Calder, Bridgeport, 0-0—0 in 2 GP

Judd Caulfield, San Diego, 7-9—16 in 41 GP

Rhett Gardner, Lehigh Valley, 4-3—7 in 32 GP

Rocco Grimaldi, Chicago, 22-16—38 in 40 GP

Gavin Hain, Iowa, 2-1—3 in 21 GP

Nick Jones, Manitoba, 5-6—11 in 28 GP

Tyson Jost, Rochester, 2-10—12 in 14 GP

Brad Malone, Bakersfield, 2-12—14 in 33 GP

Austin Poganski, Tucson, 10-10—20 in 35 GP

Mark Senden, Charlotte, 0-0—0 in 11 GP

Jasper Weatherby, Milwaukee, 8-9—17 in 40 GP


Ethan Frisch, San Jose, 1-7—8 in 26 GP

Chris Jandric, Rochester, 0-0—0 in 7 GP

Matt Kiersted, Charlotte, 2-5—7 in 31 GP

Tyler Kleven, Belleville, 2-11—13 in 30 GP

Paul LaDue, Bridgeport, 0-4—4 in 24 GP

Colton Poolman, Calgary, 2-1—3 in 37 GP

Keaton Thompson, Milwaukee, 1-1—2 in 12 GP

Christian Wolanin, Abbotsford, 3-19—22 in 32 GP


Adam Scheel, Chicago, 10-8-3, 2.54, .917

Zane McIntyre, Iowa, 3-11-3, 3.36, .884

Aaron Dell, Ontario, 0-2, 4.68, .816


Collin Adams, Kalamazoo, 9-12—21 in 35 GP

Ashton Calder, Worcester, 14-20—34 in 36 GP

Gavin Hain, Iowa, 1-0—1 in 3 GP

Jordan Kawaguchi, Idaho, 0-1—1 in 2 GP

Wade Murphy, Idaho, 22-30—52 in 43 GP

Mark Senden, Florida, 5-6—11 in 20 GP


Ty Farmer, Allen, 0-3—3 in 20 GP

Andrew Peski, Maine, 1-1—2 in 15 GP

Jonny Tychonick, Newfoundland, 5-34—39 in 42 GP


Drew DeRidder, Iowa, 7-3-2, 3.13, .911

Zach Driscoll, Indy, 15-9, 2.81, .893

Cam Johnson, Florida, 12-9-3, 2.48, .914