Blocking shots in hockey can be painful. Tyler Cline is willing to take the pain for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanooks.
“Definitely, you’ll feel it after the game; but then again, you get to do your part to get the win,’’ Cline said after Wednesday’s practice at the Carlson Center, where the Nanooks host the Michigan Tech Huskies in a Western Collegiate Hockey Association series at 7:07 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
There’s no statistics on how many shots the senior left wing has blocked this season. One thing is certain, though — he’s willing to do it.
“You kind of have to figure out a role to get yourself a little more ice time. That’s what helped me, just to get in front of pucks,’’ Cline said.
The business administration major from Blaine, Minnesota, also plays on the Nanooks penalty kill.
“Part of it is that sacrifice mentality with blocked shots, but it’s also using his speed, using his smarts,’’ UAF head coach Erik Largen said Wednesday. “He’s just really bought in to playing both ends of the rink.”
The willingness of the 5-foot-7, 175-pound Cline to sacrifice his body in front of a vulcanized rubber disc coming off the blade of a hockey stick at 90-100 mph is reminiscent of former Nanooks defenseman TJ Campbell.
Campbell was a shot-blocking specialist during his Nanooks career from 2004-05 to 2007-08. Largen was a teammate of Campbell when Largen was a Nanooks freshman goaltender in 2004-05.
“TJ wanted to be able to play right away (as a freshman). So he was like ‘How am I going to be able to play?’ ‘‘ Largen said Wednesday. “It was shot blocking for TJ.
“Tyler it’s a little bit different, he has an offensive stick, too. For him to get more minutes on the penalty kill, that’s (shot blocking) part of it.”
Largen described Cline as an all-around good defensive player.
“I just think his work ethic and energy level and defensive stick is really good,’’ Largen said.
Cline works on the power play, too, and both of his goals this season occurred in man-advantage situations.
He’s also contributed three assists in 16 games this season.
The coaches luncheon, featuring Largen and Michigan Tech’s Joe Shawhan is scheduled for noon Friday in the Carlson Center’s Pioneer Room.
• An admission special and a few events are set for Saturday at the Carlson Center.
The Family 4-Pack special will be available. The special is $50 and includes four tickets, four sodas and two large popcorns.
At 6 p.m., there will be Coloring with Santa and Nook (the Nanooks’ polar bear mascot) in the Prow. There will be free cookies and hot chocolate, courtesy of Starbucks and the Cookie Jar Restaurant.
The annual Teddy Bear Toss takes place during the first intermission.
The event involves new stuffed animals only and they will be distributed to Santa’s Helpers of Fairbanks, which will distribute them to children in need during the holidays.
The organization has a goal of 500 new stuffed animals to be donated.
A Skate with the Nanooks and a cookie social is scheduled after the game.
Contact News-Miner sports editor Danny Martin at 459-7586. Follow him on Twitter:@newsminersports