The Free Press, Mankato, MN

Shane Frederick

April 1, 2008

Early departure just another day at the office

The people of Philadelphia may think their favorite National Hockey League team just signed one of the lead actors from “The Office,” but Mankato’s hockey fans know better.

Jon Krasinski may deliver funny but forgetful one-liners every Thursday night, but Jon Kalinski’s last plays in a Minnesota State hockey uniform will go down as memorable ones.

In Game 1 of the Mavericks’ Western Collegiate Hockey Association series against Minnesota, the junior forward lay flat on the ice before bouncing up, winning a race to a loose puck and finally dishing it over a defender for Trevor Bruess’ short-handed, double-overtime, game-winning goal.

“He has the biggest heart,” Bruess said of his teammate’s effort.

Hey, Pam says the same thing about Jim in “The Office.”

In Game 3 that weekend, Kalinski had the series-winning goal on his stick in double-overtime and fired toward an open net, only to be denied on a how’d-he-do-that save by Gophers goalie Alex Kangas. Just about a minute later, Minnesota scored, and Minnesota State’s season was all but over.

The three-overtime series that resulted in a 1-0 Mavericks win and 2-1 and 3-2 losses capped a season that has given hope to Minnesota State fans for the future.

Kalinski’s play against the Gophers — no power-play goals allowed on the penalty kill, 15 shots on goal — certainly was one of the big reasons for that optimism and enthusiasm.

The mantra from fans for the last two weeks seemed to be, “If no one leaves early ...”

Well, Kalinski did indeed take off with one year of college eligibility remaining, agreeing to terms with the Philadelphia Flyers over the weekend.

As usual this time of year, the NHL is combing through the colleges and pulling players away, handing out maximum $85,000 signing bonuses like Halloween candy.

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Shane Frederick
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