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Kalinski sets his sights on Stanley Cup

This year's Stanley Cup final may have a local flavour to it.

This year's Stanley Cup final may have a local flavour to it.

Bonnyville's own Jon Kalinski, property of the NHL's Eastern Conference champion Philadelphia Flyers, has been practising with the team since the beginning of the postseason and may potentially get an opportunity to suit up in the finals.

"It's been an pretty exciting run so far," Kalinski said. "I haven't had the chance to play yet but it's been great to be around the guys and a great experience for me as a player."

Kalinski played his minor hockey in Bonnyville and then went on to play for the Pontiacs for two seasons before playing in the NCAA with the Minnesota State Mavericks.

According to Kalinski, his time in Bonnyville helped him greatly on his path to the pros.

"It was really good playing in my hometown," he said. "Minor hockey was a lot of fun back home and I was lucky enough to play on the Pontiacs too. Growing up there, everyone wants to make the Pontiacs."

Barry Kalinski, Jon's father, agreed that Bonnyville helped his son's development a great deal.

"He was born with a lot of talent and with a stick in his hand but he got a lot of good coaching growing up," said Barry.

Current Pontiacs head coach Chad Mercier never had the opportunity to coach Kalinski but praised his rise to the big leagues.

"For what Jon has been able to accomplish it's a tremendous accolade for both himself and the organization. It speaks volumes for the whole area and brings a lot of pride to the organization to see guys like Jon succeed."

The Kalinski family connection continued this past season with the Pontiacs as Jon's cousin Allias and brother Devon both played for the team.

Last year, Jon recovered from a potentially career-ending ailment known as compartment syndrome. It occurs when injured tissue swells so much within a compartment of muscles that blood circulation to the area is cut off. He was hit in the thigh during a game in Los Angeles and on the flight back to Philadelphia the pain became agonizing. It was discovered after the plane touched down that his leg swelled up one and a half times its normal size. After successful surgery, Kalinski was back on the ice after only eight weeks.

Jon's toughness didn't surprise Mercier.

"I know his cousin and brother are as tough as nails," he said. "They play through pain and I'm sure Jon is cut from the same cloth."

It's uncertain whether or not Jon will see action in the Finals but he said he's ready if the Flyers need him.

"It would be cool to play, but I'm still honoured to be here," he said. "If it happens, it happens."

Regardless of what happens, Barry said that the family back home will be watching intently.

"When your son plays on an NHL team you sort of become a fan of that team," he said. "It should be a good series but whatever happens we're very proud of Jon."

Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Finals, live from Philadelphia, is scheduled for 6 p.m. local time on Wednesday. The Flyers trailed the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0 in the series after losing the opening game in Chicago 6-5 on Saturday night and Game 2 by a 2-1 count Monday evening in Chicago.

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