ROCKFORD, Ill. -The Rockford IceHogs, proud American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate of the Chicago Blackhawks of the National Hockey League (NHL), announced today that Kevin Lankinen has been named the winner of the Role Model of the Year Award (Vuoden Esikuva) at the annual Finnish Sports Gala (Urheilugaala). The Finnish netminder was announced as the recipient of the award this afternoon during the ceremony at the Hartwell Arena in Helsinki, Finland.
Lankinen was originally named a nominee on Dec. 1 for his efforts in promoting youth literacy across Finland. After backstopping Finland's national team to gold at the 2019 World Hockey Championship, the 24 year old launched his own book discussion club that now reaches an audience of nearly 14,000 subscribers on the group’s Facebook page: facebook.com/Lankisenlukupiiri. Through the reading group, Lankinen organizes various book-club meetups, promotes literacy to an international audience and discusses interesting reads with his fanbase.
Additionally, the Helsinki-native ensures that a portion of proceeds from every book bought through the club is donated to a foundation in Finland that gives underprivileged children the opportunity to compete in athletics. Lankinen was also one of 60 Finnish ambassadors of “Read Hour," which was an exercise that coincided with the United Nations’ International Literacy Day campaign that urged the entire country to set aside time to read for an hour on Sept. 8.
It was not the only award Lankinen came away with on the day, however. The men's national hockey team won the Sports Phenomenon of the Year Award after defeating Russia in the gold medal game at the 2019 World Hockey Championship. Lankinen played a major role in the team's success, posting a 1.50 goals-against average, .942 save percentage and two shutouts throughout the tournament, including stopping 43 of 44 against Russia in the finale.
So far this season, Lankinen is 7-7-2-0 with a 3.10 GAA and a .908 save percentage over 16 appearances with the IceHogs. He led the club to wins in four straight appearances from Oct. 30-Nov. 16 and later set the IceHogs' franchise-record for saves when he stopped 55 Milwaukee Admirals shots to backstop Rockford to a 2-1 overtime win over the AHL's then top-ranked team on Dec. 10.
On Jan. 3, Lankinen was named the IceHogs' representative to the 2020 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Ontario International Airport in Ontario, California, which will take place from Jan. 26-27.
Next Home Game: Monday, Jan. 20 vs. Belleville Senators | 1 p.m.
The Rockford IceHogs host the Belleville Senators for the first time ever on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The evening is headlined by $5 kids tickets and discounted adult tickets, an Xbox One X and PS4 console giveaway and poster and popsocket giveaways.