@Johannes Kinnvall has finally arrived.
The 24-year-old right-handed defenceman made his North American professional hockey debut with the Stockton Heat on Friday, assisting on @Jakob Pelletier’s game-winning goal late in the third period to help Stockton dispatch the Henderson Silver Knights by a 3–1 score.
Kinnvall’s AHL debut has been a long time coming. He first skated in a Calgary Flames jersey way back at the team’s 2019 summer development camp before signing a two-year entry-level deal with the team the following summer.
Instead of coming over to North America right away, Kinnvall remained in the Swedish Hockey League with HV71 for the 2020–21 season as the first year of his Flames ELC elapsed.
Flash-forward to this past September, when Kinnvall finally arrived in North America in advance of his first NHL training camp. He was named the Flames’ fittest prospect and looked strong in a power-play quarterback role during rookie games.
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Then, disaster struck.
While Kinnvall was originally listed as “week-to-week,” he ended up missing more than four months of action (including the entirety of the Flames’ main camp). After first wearing a Flames jersey on the ice way back on July 4, 2019, Kinnvall finally made his AHL debut with Stockton 932 days later.
So, how did he look?
Kinnvall immediately occupied a spot on Stockton’s top power-play unit against the Silver Knights. He looked confident with the puck, even if he struggled at times to keep up with his teammates. We’ll cut him some slack: Kinnvall entered Friday’s game having not played competitive hockey since Apr. 18, 2021.
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Back in his days with HV71, Kinnvall fired shots on goal at an impressive rate and was one of the most productive players (regardless of position) in the entire SHL. He only managed one shot on Friday (he took at least three in 14 of his 32 SHL games in 2020–21) but made a crafty pass around a defending stick to find @Jakob Pelletier before his go-ahead power-play goal late in regulation.
Like current Flames defenceman @Oliver Kylington, Kinnvall’s name starts not with a hard “K” sound but instead with one resembling the “sh” phonic. The six-foot, 180-pound rearguard was one of seven to dress for the Heat in Friday’s game.
Stockton performed very well in its own zone against Henderson, outshooting the Silver Knights by a wide margin (49 to 29) and holding them without a goal at even strength.
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Heat goaltender @Dustin Wolf looked excellent in his return after backing up @Adam Werner in each of the team’s last two games. Wolf, 20, entered Friday’s action having allowed nine goals on 55 shots in his last two starts; he put an end to his slide with a 28-save performance against the Knights, improving to 17–2–2 with a .933 save percentage on the year.
@Jakob Pelletier maintained his grasp on Stockton’s team scoring lead with the game-winning goal, ending his six-game scoring drought in the process. The 20-year-old forward also fired a game-high seven shots on goal and looked every bit like a player who could soon make an impact in the National Hockey League.
@Matthew Phillips also remained red-hot, assisting on both of Stockton’s first two goals and moving to within a point of Pelletier on the team leaderboard. Phillips, 23, leads all active Heat players with 1.07 points per game this season, a figure that ranks 16th league-wide among those who have played more than 10 AHL games in 2021–22.
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Including an empty-net tally, Heat captain @Byron Froese scored twice in Friday’s contest; fellow centre @Glenn Gawdin notched a pair of secondary assists. The Heat remained atop the AHL’s Pacific Division by improving to 23–7–2; Henderson, now 16–11–3, fell from third in the Pacific to fifth.
Stockton went with the following lineup against Henderson on Friday:
@Jakob Pelletier – @Glenn Gawdin – @Matthew Phillips
@Martin Pospisil – @Luke Philp – @Walker Duehr
@Justin Kirkland – @Byron Froese – @Eetu Tuulola
@Alex Gallant – @Emilio Pettersen
@Connor Mackey – @Nick DeSimone
@Kevin Gravel – @Colton Poolman
@Ilya Solovyov – @Johannes Kinnvall
@Nolan Valleau
@Dustin Wolf (starter) – @Adam Werner
The Heat and Silver Knights will wrap up their two-game set in Stockton when they face each other again on Saturday at 7:00 p.m. MT.
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