From the drop of the puck, Oliver Kylington looked back in his element.

The Flames defender returned to Scotiabank Saddledome ice wearing his familiar No. 58 for the Calgary Wranglers, logging just over 18 minutes of ice time, while helping the AHL club to a 3-2 win over the Ontario Reign in his first game action since the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Paired with Colton Poolman, Kylington looked every bit the savvy veteran, calmly, but quickly distributing the puck to teammates at every opportunity and helping keep the danger in front of goaltender Dustin Wolf to a minimum.

“I’ve been working hard off the ice, with the coaches, (but) it’s always different when you play a game,” Kylington said after the contest. “I just tried to keep it simple from the beginning, and then I felt the game came to me a little bit quicker.

“I felt pretty good for a first game.”

Kylington played with confidence, too, earning cheers from the audience early in the second period for a sequence that saw him break up a cross-ice pass in the defensive end, then carry the puck with speed for 180-odd feet, forcing Reign netminder Erik Portillo into an important save off a backhand shot from in tight.

“I guess my legs still work,” he chuckled as he recalled the play.

He put his speed on display in search of a go-ahead goal midway through period three, too, dancing through the neutral zone, then dishing to Matt Coronato on the right wing before he raced to the front of the net in search of a deflection.

Wranglers head coach Trent Cull agreed, his new blueliner fit right in, right off the hop.

“I thought he looked comfortable,” Cull said. “I saw a couple smiles, you know, on the bench there a little bit, I thought he was solid on our powerplay; I mean, we didn’t convert, but he contributed.”

Those in attendance at the ‘Dome gave Kylington a warm welcome home, too, giving him one of the loudest cheers of the night when his name was called in the Wranglers starting lineup.

“The fanbase here in Calgary and just people around the city have been so nice and supportive when I’ve run into them,” he said. “I appreciate all the support, I really do.”

For Kylington, there’s perhaps a sense of fait accompli, that he’s returned to professional hockey after a lengthy absence, and has felt good doing it.

But Thursday’s win marks only the opening paragraph in the next chapter of his story.

“It was nice to get this over with,” Kylington said. “I just want to keep building and look forward to the future.”