The off-ice was a bit hard in the beginning. The boys on the team were good to me. The leadership, the staff was really good in helping me off the ice. I just took it day-by-day and everybody was nice to me. It’s easy when you have good help and this organization is good with that. It made it easier for me to settle in. - Oliver Kylington
CALGARY, AB -- One game.
Game No. 82 for the Calgary Flames.
One game, his first in the NHL, was enough to scratch off a minor goal set last summer by defenceman Oliver Kylington.
But one is not enough to satisfy.
“It was a small goal I had in my head, just to get my first game as a first-year pro over here,” said Kylington, a popular player with media at the first day of development camp Monday.
“I wasn’t sure it was going to happen because I’m still pretty young. I was happy it happened. I just tried to do my best all season and the game I got. Just work hard now, and hopefully get more games and show that I can play at that level.”
It was a modest line in a 2-1 win against the Minnesota Wild just a week shy of four months ago.
No points. Even. One shot.
All in 17:22 of work.
But in those 17-and-a-half minutes of action, one of Kylington’s goals was reached.
And it might’ve justified the move from Sweden to Stockton, CA in chasing a dream.
“That game was special for me,” he said. “It’s something I’ve been dreaming to do a long time. It’s nice to have it under my belt. Hopefully I’ll get more, and get prepared for September to do a better job than last year. Just get prepared.”
“To feel what’s going to happen in the future. It makes me more hungry, more focused.”
He’s more mature, too.
With his first season of professional hockey in North America under his belt, the teenager -- who just turned 19 in May -- is a lot surer of himself, and a lot more comfortable in his surroundings.
“I think I’ve grown as a person,” Kylington said. “Living by myself this year in Stockton and being in North America, I think I’ve been growing as a person. Of course being in Calgary, it’s my third time being in Calgary, you get to know everybody and get more comfortable to see everybody again, see some familiar faces. It’s easier to join in and see everybody.
“It feels better.
“The off-ice was a bit hard in the beginning. The boys on the team were good to me. The leadership, the staff was really good in helping me off the ice. I just took it day-by-day and everybody was nice to me. It’s easy when you have good help and this organization is good with that. It made it easier for me to settle in.
“It was ongoing the whole season, but I felt comfortable after a couple weeks. It wasn’t bad at all. It was good.”
Comfort away from the rink translated to comfort on the ice.
It showed to assistant general manager Craig Conroy.
“The first and foremost, to come over here in the youngest player in the American Hockey League and as he’s going through it … there were times when he was homesick,” Conroy said. “He’s a young guy alone. I can’t imagine that age going over to Sweden and just being gone like that. He had to grow up, but it was great for him.
“He came, he had a little bit of a tough stretch there before Christmas, but then he took off. His game was getting better, better and better. He was getting stronger in the gym. You could see progression as the season went on.
“We did the right thing. For the most part, his game got a lot better and I’m looking forward to see how his game transforms here … not so much here but come the fall.”
Kylington is eager, too.
An excitement fueled by his first NHL game.
And driven by his start at development camp.
“It’s a beginning,” Kylington said.
“This is the beginning of next season. It’s the beginning. Just getting prepared for September.”