Former NHL Star honoured at Friday’s Pontiac game
“The Pontiacs took a chance on me when I was 16, by letting a 16 year old kid on the team. I can’t thank them enough for giving me that opportunity,” Jon Kalinski spoke moments after his jersey was lifted to the rafters on Friday evening to join the likes of Matt Cook and Mark Letestu sweaters. “The Bonnyville Pontiacs were one of the reasons why I had the opportunity to attend Minnesota State University. It was the time I spent with the Pontiacs learning and developing as a player that gave me the chance to pursue my hockey career.”
Watching as his number 23 jersey was raised, “if I could describe that feeling… I don’t know.” With his three brothers, Lydon, Dylan and Devon, at his side, along with his wife, Kelsey and two daughters, Kalinski says it was his family who helped him get there. He says he wanted his family at his side as his jersey was raised. “I wouldn’t be anywhere without my family. You look over at them and it’s all for them. They’re a part of the team too, it wasn’t just me. [The Pontiacs] aren’t just honouring me, they’re honouring them, my whole family.”
Kalinski played with the Pontiacs for two seasons, between 2002 and 2005, before moving onto the Minnesota State Mavericks. The Mavericks lead the left winger to the 2007 NHL Draft, where he was selected in the sixth round, 152nd overall, by the Philadelphia Flyers. Playing in the AHL for the Philadelphia Phantoms for a year, Kalinski got the call up in 2008 to the NHL. He laced up for the Flyers 12 times in 2008-09 and 10 more in 09-10. Kalinski finished his hockey career in the AHL, playing for Adirondack Phantoms, Norfolk Admirals and lastly the Hersey Bears.
“To the fans of the Pontiacs, thank you for supporting me and every team that has been playing in Bonnyville,” the Iron River raised, Kalinski says it was the home crowd that really motivated him and welcomed him. “It was always an honour to put on the Pontiacs’ jersey, because of everything the jersey stood for. The team is community driven and it is because of the families, the fans, the sponsors and coaching staff that show up, every single day, that keep the team strong. It’s about brotherhood.”
It’s about brotherhood. – Jon Kalinski former Bonnyville Pontiac & NHL player
Kalinski says playing for the Pontiacs when he was a teen was like reaching the highest level, “when I was a young kid, I never left Bonnyville, so I played my whole minor hockey career. It’s quite an honour to play for your own team.” The franchise has grown some since Kalinski took to the ice at the RJ Lalonde Arena, “the foundation that they’ve built, that [Rick] Swan has built and carried on, it’s a nice thing to see.”