Brandon Wheat Kings defencemen Ryan Pulock and Eric Roy got to experience the moment they’ve dreamed about all their lives on Sunday in Newark, N.J.
The defensive duo took a big step towards playing in the National Hockey League by being selected in this year’s NHL draft. Pulock went 15th overall to the New York Islanders and Roy was taken in the fifth round, 135th overall, by the Calgary Flames.
Pulock was expected to go in the middle of the first round and he was ecstatic about going to Long Island.
"It was a little crazy," the 18-year-old Wheat Kings’ captain said. "I wasn’t quite expecting it that early. The rankings had dropped a bit, but to hear my name called, I hardly even remember the feeling. My heart kinda stopped and it was so exciting.
"I’m super thrilled about it and to get my first opportunity in New York is going to be special and I look forward to it."
Pulock, a 6-foot-1, 211-pound third-year blue-liner, tied for the Wheat Kings scoring lead with 45 points — including 14 goals — in 61 games, despite missing time with a broken orbital bone and a cracked wrist.
The Grandview native — the first Manitoban picked in this year’s draft — hopes to become a solid offensive defenceman for the Islanders and eventually make an impact on their power play, especially with his massive shot from the point, which has been clocked at 101 mph.
Pulock already has someone to lean on if he has any questions. Before the draft was over, Islanders defenceman Travis Hamonic, another former Wheat King, sent his new teammate a text offering any help he can give Pulock.
The only thing that could have made the day better for Pulock was if his brother, Brock, could have been there to enjoy the moment with the eight other family members at the draft. Brock died in a car accident in 2010, but he was on Pulock’s mind when he heard his name called.
"After being picked, he was one of the first things I thought about," Pulock said. "He would have been just as happy as I would have been and he would have been right here along with us if he was here. He was definitely on our minds the whole time."
While Pulock didn’t have to wait long to find out his fate in the draft, Roy had to be patient.
The 6-foot-3, 190-pound defenceman from Beauval, Sask., was taken approximately four hours after Pulock was selected, but he didn’t let the stress get to him and he just tried to relax.
When his name finally went up on the board, he reacted as coolly as he could.
"I have a bunch of family members here," said Roy, who finished fourth in Wheat King scoring with 39 points — including 17 goals — while playing in all 72 games last season. "They screamed when I got picked. I was just kind of a calm, relaxed guy and was more happy and smiling."
Roy, however, is excited about going to Calgary. The 18-year-old grew up watching the Flames on television and he can’t wait to join them and prove he can be a hard-working, two-way blue-liner. He’s also relieved that the pressure of the draft is finally over.
"(The draft is) something I’ve been waiting for since I came into junior hockey," said Roy, who joins former Wheat Kings teammate Mike Ferland of Brandon as a member of the Flames’ organization. "I’ve been thinking about it all day and I’m glad and really happy it’s done with."
Roy wasn’t sure when or if the Flames are going to host a prospects camp this summer as the Saddledome was one of the many buildings affected by the flood that hit Calgary last month. If there isn’t a camp, he plans to work hard in the gym and on the ice during the next few months to get ready for the Wheat Kings’ and Flames’ training camps.
Pulock, meanwhile, will have a very busy next few months, beginning with the Islanders prospects camp and the Canadian world junior team summer camp, followed by Wheat Kings training camp and then Islanders camp. He’s anxious to get started.
"It’s going to be a pretty short summer," he said. "It’s almost over for me, but what better way (to spend it) than to play hockey?"
ICINGS: This is the ninth straight year a Wheat King has been selected in the NHL draft, with Pulock becoming the fourth picked in the first round in the past 11 years … The Columbus Blue Jackets picked F Peter Quenneville, the brother of Wheat King C John Quenneville, in the seventh round ... Brandon C Tim McGauley was ranked 155th among North American skaters by NHL Central Scouting in the final draft rankings, but was passed over ... Next up for the Wheat Kings is Wednesday’s CHL Import Draft, with Brandon holding the seventh overall pick.