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Jokerit forward Kalle Kossila, 28, got a flying start for his first KHL season as he was named a best forward of Week 2. In total he had summed up 3-3-6 points in his first six regular season games for the Helsinki team.

”Always getting that kind of honor feels good. Obviously you need to have good linemates to score some point as well. Especially linemates Hännikäinen and Turunen have played well. I am always a team first guy, but not going to lie – this feels pretty good too”, Kossila mentioned.

After playing almost his whole career in North America starting from NCAA University league, jumping to completely different environment was a little bit of a shot in the dark.

”To be honest, I didn’t have much expectations. Exhibition games went pretty well for us. I just want to come to the rink every day, do my best and see how it goes. It was hard to say where I’m at, but we have been playing well”, states Kossila.

Door to NHL didn’t open

During his years in North America Kossila had a few very good seasons by the numbers. In the AHL in his best season 2017-18 with the San Diego Gulls he netted 21+33=54 points in 55 regular season games. He was a solid point scorer throughout his whole time in the AHL.

The forward got his first games in the NHL, but afterall the path didn’t lead where the player would have wanted to. Kossila always knew that he had to have options for his career. He still remembers the first call to play for the Anaheim Ducks.

”Obviously NHL debut is a dream come true moment for most of the players. There’s a saying that goes ”shoot to the stars and you might land on the Moon”, so in college NHL was my goal and in case I didn’t make it, I at least would play somewhere as a professional. I remember the phone call, when I was on the road with the San Diego AHL team. Like I said, it was a deam come true. A day I won’t forget ever”.

”I played in college and graduated, then signed for the Anaheim Ducks. As a player from Europe I didn’t want to be stuck in AHL for too long. My goal was always to play in the NHL, but after four or five years it felt like I didn’t really get the opportunity even I had been playing well in the AHL”, Kossila thinks.

To Jokerit Kossila ended up by the effect of natural interest. He already had some good experinces from European hockey, so playing in KHL started to seem like a good possibility.

”Last year, when I was in Munich for a bit, I had a really good time. I noticed that hockey can be really fun here too. And I would be able to play closer to my family and friends, so they can see me. Then I started to think that if I am not going to be in the NHL, where would I be. Jokerit was a natural option”.

Master of adaptation

Coming from North American culture, the structured game style seemed like a handfull at first, but Kossila got used to Lauri Marjamäki’s way of coaching pretty quickly.

”I believe that always when the player gets to play with his strenghts, that’s the best for the team. They know what kind of a player I am, and so do I. I had plenty of differrent kinds of coaches over the years. Marjamäki is very professional and he’s always mentally present. The systems are a bit different, but it’s been good so far. I got to keep learning”, Kossila knows.

Kossila has always been into ice hockey, either watching it or playing it himself. He thinks that learning the game all life long has been the key for being able to adapt to different teams, leagues and systems

”I think I can always do better. My mentality is that I always try to learn. Everywhere there are a bit different systems. You just got to learn and I am willing to do that. Since I was a young kid, I have watched a lot of hockey. I think that helps me to understand the game and be on my best.”

”In AHL it’s a learning process most of the time and especially last year we didn’t have much systems. It was mostly about winning all the games without a cause. Here it’s pretty strict for example how you forecheck. It’s not complicated, it’s just different”, the Jokerit forward ponders.

Staying fresh, playing well

In North American leagues, especially in the AHL there is a lot of travelling and possibly it’s always not the most pleasant thing. As well as in the rinks, Kossila also adapted well to be on the road.

”I guess there has been more flying, which I don’t mind. The travelling haven’t been as bad as some people have said. I was mentally prepared for worse. It’s been a positive surprice so far. In AHL we used to have back-to-back games, and those we don’t have here. When you have those, you might have three or four days to practice and get a good workout. Once the season goes on, I just try to stay mentally fresh”.

Every player has their own ways of staying occupied and spend their time, when travelling. Kossila does the basic routine things, but also goes for something a bit more advanced – something that might help him in the games as well.

”I always have a couple of books with me and I listen to a lot of music and podcasts. I also like to pre-scout the games and watch my shifts. I might also start to learn some Russian here soon. I think I need to get an app for that and learn the alphabet. I think it would be fun to be able to say something to the referees in face-off’s, so they would like me and not throw me off”, Kossila says and gives a little laugh.

Even though Kossila is just getting started in the KHL, he is already prepared for what might be coming, and he’s excited about it.

”I have with or against so many guys, so there are usually one or two guys that I know in every team. It’s great to also see some great Russian players that I haven’t heard about, if they haven’t been in the national team ori f I haven’t played against them.”

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