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HEAT REPORT - 28.03.17

Flames prospect Ollas Mattsson collects an assist - and does so much more - in weekend North American pro debut with Stockton Heat

by DUSTIN COWELL @dustin_cowell / calgaryflames.com

There isn't much about Flames 2014 sixth-round pick Adam Ollas Mattsson that doesn't scream ideal defenceman.

6-foot-4. Check.

215-lb. Check.

Intelligent first pass. Check.

Strong in his own zone. Check.

There was seemingly a lot to like about the 20-year-old prospect, who just last week joined the Stockton Heat on an amateur tryout agreement.

However, no one had seen the Swedish defenceman lace up his skates in a professional game on this side of Atlantic - that is until this past weekend when Ollas Mattsson pulled on the Heat sweater and helped Stockton earn three points in their pair of games in Texas Friday and Saturday night.

While in some cases you may see a coach ease a young player into his first AHL game,bench boss Ryan Huska decided to go a different route with Ollas Mattsson Friday against the Texas Stars.

Ollas Mattsson's first shift of pro hockey in North America came on a defensive zone draw on the penalty kill on the road. Doesn't get much tougher than that for a rookie blueliner trying to make a good first impression.

A scramble off the faceoff would result in Ollas Mattsson stepping up and finding the puck on the half wall for the well-placed clear that stopped right on the opposite goal line.

His next touch came on the ensuing zone entry for Texas, on which he got his stick on the shot and then found the puck in the corner to be played around to his partner Keith Aulie to make the clear.

Thirty seconds into his AHL career and two textbook plays to his credit.

Undoubtedly a good start.

"We threw him right into a penalty-kill role right away and he handled it really well," Huska said with a smile. "I thought he was one of our better defencemen.

"He kept his game simple and made great little reads with the puck.

"You could see he's comfortable making those little bump passes and has good composure with the puck.

"I thought for a first game here he handled himself real well."

When talking to Ollas Mattsson himself after his first game, his assessment was not unlike most Europeans coming over to North America for their first pro experience.

"It felt a little weird compared to Sweden, but I felt pretty good out there," said Ollas Mattsson. "The rink is smaller and the forwards don't have much space compared to back home.

"That's the thing I noticed the most out there."

The Swede held his own and impressed in key spots all night and despite falling behind 4-1 in the second period the Heat were able to battle back and take the two points following four unanswered goals, capped by Morgan Klimchuk's game-winner in the third.

For Ollas Mattsson, having his first game turn out the way it did could not have been a more ideal beginning to his North American pro career.

"Going through a game like this I got to be a little more into the group," said Ollas Mattsson. "All the guys are pumped up and I got pumped up, too.

"This is a really great group of guys and I feel like one of the guys already.

"Winning a game like this made it a lot easier."

Another factor that likely played a role in a seemingly easy transition for Ollas Mattsson is the presence of fellow Swedish defenseman and former under-16 teammate Oliver Kylington - who had nothing but positive things to say about his longtime friend's debut.

"It looks like he's been playing here for a while," Kylington said after Saturday's shootout loss. "This ice suits him really well and he plays well his body - strong and physical in the corners.

"He's got good poise with the puck, too.

"I'm really happy for him and it was cool to see him get that first point out of the way."

The first point Kylington mentioned came off an Ollas Mattsson seeing-eye shot from the point that rebounded perfectly to Stockton captain Mike Angelidis, who promptly deposited it to tie the game.

Two games played. One assist. One shot. Plus-2 rating. Already earning top-four minutes on the penalty kill.

Not a bad start at all.

LAST WEEK'S HEAT:

Record: 1-0-0-1; Overall: 28-25-4-2…The Heat find themselves .034 percentage-points back of the Bakersfield Condors for the final playoff spot in the Pacific Division with 9 games left on the schedule for each team … D Oliver Kylington celebrated his 100th AHL game Saturday night with a highlight reel goal, his 5th on the season … F Mark Jankowski registered a goal and an assist last week, pushing his point streak to six games (3 goals, 4 assists) … D Tyler Wotherspoon scored a goal and an assist last week, extending his point streak to four games (2 goals, 2 assists).

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