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Kaskisuo makes most of opportunity with Wolves

Kasimir Kaskisuo is the closest thing to constant the Chicago Wolves have had in net this season.

Borrowed from the Toronto Maple Leafs organization just two weeks into the season when original Wolves goaltenders Max Lagace and Oscar Dansk were recalled from loan by the Vegas Golden Knights, Kaskisuo leads the Wolves in games (21), minutes (1,201), goals-against average (2.50), save percentage (.910) and shutouts (2).

Kaskisuo has been particularly strong while handling every minute of the last four games – posting a 3-1-0 record with a 1.72 GAA and .933 save percentage. His run over the last 10 days has elevated him to 10th place among the AHL’s goals-against average leaders.

With Lagace and Dansk back on the Wolves roster, it’s too soon to know how playing time will be parceled out after the All-Star Break. Regardless, Kaskisuo has acquitted himself nicely for a team that needed to use a league-high five goaltenders before Thanksgiving!

“Chicago has been great to me so far,” Kaskisuo said. “I think I proved it at the end of last year I can play in this league.”

Wolves sideline reporter Mark Citron caught up with the busy Wolves goaltender to get a glimpse at his life on and off the ice.

Q: How is it different coming from the ECHL and Europe? I am always intrigued by players’ answers on this one.

A: “It’s a different world for sure. I played there (ECHL) last year for five months or so. It is a lot of rough and tough. Tempers flare easily in that league. I played two games this season (for the Orlando Solar Bears before joining the Wolves) and after almost every whistle, there was a scrap going on. You have guys always crashing the net and teams sometimes forgetting how to play defense. However, I really think I got the best out of playing there last year to help me where I am today.”

Q: You grew up in Vantaa, Finland. Any hockey history involving your Finnish teammates Teemu Pulkkinen and Petteri Lindbohm?

A: I think Pulkki’s house is a five-minute walk from where I grew up. Our moms were best friends growing up when they met in middle school and are still best friends to this day. I played with ‘Pulkki’ a little bit and with ‘Lindy’ more when I was with Jokerit. I didn’t get to play with Pulkki as much because he was a year older. He was always the big shot. All in all, it is a great place.

Q: What made you want to play the goalie position?

A: “Everything that is involved with the position. You are out there the whole time and, if you play well, you get the recognition. Growing up, Kari Lehtonen (who starred for the Wolves in parts of four seasons) played for the same team as I did in Finland and I always kind of followed his career and idolized him.”

Q: What part of your individual game are you working on right now?

A: “The same things I have been working on for a year and a half now. Just getting square to pucks, reading the play better. Always working on getting square to pucks is the biggest thing for me because it usually gives me more of a chance to make the save and control rebounds more.”

Q: What is your pregame ritual you stick by?

A: “I am not superstitious, so ritual is definitely the word for it. Just to get a nap in after the big lunch. Get a nap and then head to the rink and grab a cup of coffee. I like listening to music beforehand so I am less tense. Playing soccer with the team is nice, too, because once warmups start it is time to get amped up and focused.

Q: What is the most embarrassing song on your playlist now?

A: “Oh, wow. I don’t think I have any. I don’t listen to embarrassing music. I am a country and rock guy. Eric Church is probably my favorite country artist.”

Q: Netflix recommendations that you watch right now?

A: “I go through a lot. I am watching ‘Narcos’ right now. I finished ‘Stranger Things.’ It was unreal. I just finished ‘Game of Thrones,’ too, and I am kind of upset because I have to wait for the next season. On my top list are ‘Sons of Anarchy,’ ‘Breaking Bad,’ and Dexter.”

Q: What is the craziest thing you witnessed at a hockey game?

A: “When I was playing for Minnesota Duluth and when we played University of Nebraska Omaha, they would throw a fish on the ice when they scored. Then a guy would come in on a cart and wave it around.”