Jan 30, 2018

Wild forward Luke Kunin was the team’s lone participant in the 2018 AHL All-Star Challenge, earning the All-Star bid in his first full professional season.  

“I was very humbled and honored to be selected for it and represent Iowa and the organization,” Kunin said.  

Kunin’s All-Star festivities kicked off with the Skills Competition, where he competed in three events: AHL Live Rapid Fire, Turning Stone Resort Casino Pass and Score and Dunkin’ Donuts Breakaway Relay.  

In the Rapid Fire event, Kunin went 1-for-5, scoring the only goal against Providence’s Jordan Binnington. Teamed up with Manitoba’s Mason Appleton and Rockford’s Tyler Highmore, the three scored on all three chances in the Pass and Score Competition.  

The Skills Competition closed with every player competing in the Breakaway Relay, getting one chance to net a goal. Kunin capped off his night by rifling a wrist shot past Bridgeport Sound Tigers goaltender Christopher Gibson. Ultimately, the Eastern All-Stars won the Skills Competition 18-12. 

“The skills competition, that was a lot of fun, doing those kinds of events,” Kunin said. “The way it’s set up was great. It was a fun first night. You have some fun with it, share some laughs and just enjoy it.” 

In the All-Star Challenge, the Central Division headed into the tournament as back-to-back champions. However, the team dropped all three games and failed to make the championship. Despite the earlier than expected departure from the tournament, Kunin enjoyed his time in Utica at his first All-Star appearance.  

“It was a great experience,” Kunin said. “Whenever you get to go to an All-Star game, you want to take advantage of it and just enjoy it and I definitely did that.” 

The All-Star nomination was a recognition of the work Kunin has put in at both levels of professional hockey. With Iowa, he’s registered 14 points (7g, 7a) in 26 games, while also chipping in four points (2g, 2a) in 17 games with Minnesota.  

“It has a lot to do not just with the team success but the guys I’ve been playing with,” Kunin said. “A lot of guys could have gone as well and are having really good years on our team. It’s not just me, I was just happy to represent the organization.” 

Kunin returns back to Iowa, where the Wild embarks on a three-game California trip. In an extremely tight playoff race in the Central Division, Kunin is ready to focus on clinching the team’s first-ever playoff berth.  

“We’ve got a little downtime before the Cali road trip,” Kunin said. “Just heal up a little bit, trying to get my game back to where it was before I got hurt and gear up for the rest of the season.”  

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