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Kahun hoping to follow Olympic medal with Stanley Cup

by Sam Kasan @PensInsideScoop / Penguins

Dominik Kahun came to North America with his most prized possession: an Olympic silver medal. 

"I take it everywhere with me," he said inside the Penguins locker room. Then he clarified, "Well, not everywhere. I don't have it with me right now." 

The silver made currently sits in his hotel room in a case, and will be on display when he moves into his new home in Pittsburgh. 

The medal represents one of the greatest accomplishments in Olympic hockey history. And, without a doubt the greatest moment in German hockey history. 

"I think it will never happen again for German hockey," Kahun said. "It was just unbelievable. I will never forget that."

It certainly didn't come easy, particularly the third period against Canada in the semifinals. Germany had built an incredible 4-1 lead on powerhouse Canada in that 2018 Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea. But as the contest moved into the third period, Canada pushed back. 

The Canadians outshot Germany by a count of 15-1 in the third period and cut the lead to 4-3 with a pair of goals. Kahun had a chance to seal the game with a penalty shot in that third period, but was denied by goaltender Kevin Poulin.

When the clock finally struck zero, Kahun and his teammates rushed the ice to celebrate one of the most dramatic upsets in Olympic hockey history. 

"It was the best game of my life, but also the worst for my nerves," Kahun said with a smile. "They started to score and it was so tough to keep it up, but somehow we made it."

Germany's miracle run included upsets over hockey juggernauts Switzerland, Sweden and Canada. Though their run came up short in the Gold Medal Game against the Olympic Athletes from Russia (OAR), the team accomplished something that may never be repeated. 

"It was the best team I've ever been a part of," Kahun said. "We were a good group. Everyone talked to everyone. We went together everywhere. I think that's the reason that we won. We were just one big family."

Kahun was born in Plana, Czech Republic, but at the age of 3 he moved to the small German town Veiden. Despite living in Germany, Kahun followed the path of many young Czech players and adopted the sport. 

Kahun idolized Czech native and former Penguin Jaromir Jagr growing up, as well as his new linemate Sidney Crosby. 

"I just knew him from the internet, but now I'll play with him," Kahun said. "They're just humans. Obviously, they're the best in the world. But I try to do my best and try to help them."

Due to the time difference in Europe, Kahun didn't watch a lot of NHL hockey, but he did catch a lot of highlights on YouTube. And though he never dreamed of winning an Olympic medal, it has always been his dream to win a Stanley Cup. 

That's the reason he played for Sudbury of the Ontario Hockey League for junior hockey from 2012-14. Kahun returned to Germany after going undrafted and unsigned in the NHL, but he was not deterred. After winning back-to-back German League titles with EHC Munchen, the NHL came calling. 

"My goal was to get drafted in the NHL. Unfortunately, I didn't," Kahun said. "They said I was too small and in the NHL you have to be big and tough. But now time has changed and I showed that I can play here.

"I played really well in Germany, in the World Championship and the Olympics. I was ready."

Kahun spoke with 10 different teams about signing in the NHL, but decided that Chicago was the right fit. 

Kahun posted 13 goals and 37 points while playing in all 82 games for Chicago. His speed and high-end skill fit well with the Blackhawks system. Kahun bounced around the lineup, but played most of the year on a line with Jonathan Toews and Brandon Saad. 

So, it wasn't surprising when he found himself on a line with Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel at the onset of training camp. The trio had some instant chemistry, connecting for a goal during an intra-squad scrimmage on Day 1. 

"It's a dream come true," Kahun said. "I was a little nervous to play with a guy like that, but I have the confidence that I can play with him and make plays with him. I'll try to keep going and hopefully stay there as long as possible.

"It was fun and hopefully we can keep it going."

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