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07-01-2013, 08:59 AM
Seth Lake
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Location: Nashville, TN
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Kivihalme, like most players drafted directly out of U.S. high school hockey, will be a long-term investment. The certitude he shows on the power play and while either leading or joining offensive rushes suggests he could fit on the next level. The major question is whether he will develop enough physically to be reliable in his own end.
"Obviously I need to work on my upper body," Kivihalme says. "The doctor said my growth plates are still open, which is great news."
The defenceman notes about half of the 13 teams who interviewed him during the recent NHL combine asked about him passing on Colorado to play major junior hockey. Kivihalme said he was approached over the past year by the eventual WHL champion Portland Winterhawks, whose title-winning squad included four players with Minnesota ties (overage goalie Mac Carruth, rookie wings Paul Bittner and Keegan Iverson and fellow draft prospect Oliver Bjorkstrand, a Dane who also has U.S. citizenship).
"I will definitely consider it if the team that drafts me wants me to go," Kivihalme says, who stresses his father and his mother, Shanda, are each big on education.
1. What factors prompted you to commit to Colorado College?
"Having a constant view of the mountains, that's something you don't see a lot of in Minnesota. Right when I walked in there, it just felt right, the campus and everything. I feel their style of play suits me because they are a good skating team, good puck-possession team, and their D loves to create offence from the back end, which I love doing."
2. In your mind, what areas of the game need the most improvement before you will be ready to turn pro?
"My defensive play and being a little more physical on the back end. That goes hand in hand with developing my strength a little more, that will make it a little bit easier. Improved strength will also help with my shot."
3. Whom in the NHL do you study because he or they play a style close to what you realistically aspire to do at that level?
"[The Ottawa Senators'] Erik Karlsson and [Chicago Blackhawks'] Duncan Keith. I like Keith's intensity in the D zone, but they're both great offensively. I like Karlsson's creativity, I like to be creative too. I see myself an offensive defenceman who can be responsible defensively too."
4. Your father and grandfather each played professional hockey, but I understand you participated in a variety of sports while growing up? How important was that mentally?
"For the mental side, it was definitely very important for me. It's nice, playing different sports, getting a break from hockey when you need it. I played soccer and lacrosse, which is kind of like hockey and soccer. I enjoyed playing all types of sports."

Soccer and lacrosse background builds foot-eye and hand-eye coordination and also both improve vision in terms of reading the play and making quick decisions.

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