Pulock eyes NHL spot


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Ryan Pulock has a pretty good sense of what it’s going to take to earn a regular spot in the National Hockey League

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This article was published 04/07/2015 (2704 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Ryan Pulock has a pretty good sense of what it’s going to take to earn a regular spot in the National Hockey League

The four-year member of the Brandon Wheat Kings, who served as captain for the last two, said that life in professional hockey takes a new level of commitment.

“It’s a dream to be drafted and play at a higher level,” said Pulock, who is spending his summer in Brandon after his first season in the American Hockey League. “I think it’s staying focused, continuing to get better every year and every day and trying to take that next step. It’s hard to get there; it’s the best league in the world, so you have to put a full day’s work in every day to try to improve.”

File photo Former Brandon Wheat Kings captain Ryan Pulock skates last year at Westman Place while preparing for camp with the New York Islanders. Pulock spent his rookie professional season in the minors but is aiming to jump to the NHL club this fall.

A shoulder injury cost him nearly two months last season, limiting him to 54 games with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers. Still, the 20-year-old blue-liner was able to score 17 goals and add 12 assists, with only six penalty minutes.

Pulock, who hails from Grandview, said his gaudy offensive numbers were in large part due to the opportunities that he was given.

“I got power-play minutes and that’s kind of my specialty if I want to be successful,” Pulock said on Friday after golfing in the BIRT Cup fundraiser. “I got that chance and I was able to succeed with that.”

Pulock was called up to the NHL for a day in early December by the New York Islanders but never saw action. A month later he was chosen to play in the AHL all-star game but was injured two days later and had to miss it.

Pulock said the biggest change from the Western Hockey League to the AHL is the size rather than the speed. But he also noticed a massive difference in the amount of skill on the ice.

“In junior you get the guys that are just as fast as these guys but as a whole there are probably more guys throughout the lineup as good as some of the better players in the Western Hockey League, which is different,” Pulock said. “Every shift you have elite players that you’re playing against so that was probably the bigger difference. For myself, it’s good because I have to continue to improve my game. It makes me a better player and that’s what I’m going for to take the next step.”

Pulock was drafted 15th overall by the Islanders in 2013. Last weekend, he was quick to chat with former defensive partner Ryan Pilon after he was also picked by the Isles in the NHL draft.

“It was cool,” Pulock said. “Obviously when I was here we played together quite a bit and we became pretty good friends. It’s nice going to camp and, for myself, being around the organization long enough to help him in his development throughout these next few years. It’s nice to have someone I know and be able to help someone like that who I really respect.”

Pulock already made Islanders history when, in a pre-season game against the New Jersey Devils on Sept. 26, 2014, he scored the franchise’s first goal in the Barclays Centre. The team is making a permanent move into the Brooklyn building next season.

He remains hopeful that he’ll be able to play more games with the Islanders soon.

It won’t hurt Pulock’s chances that a couple of his former teammates in Bridgeport are no longer in the organization. Former second-rounder Aaron Ness signed with the Washington Capitals, while 2012 first-rounder Griffin Reinhart was dealt to the Edmonton Oilers.

Pulock said after four years of playing against Reinhart when he was with the WHL’s Edmonton Oil Kings, they became close.

“You play against each other a lot but I think we became pretty good friends last year,” Pulock said. “Now with him gone, I hope he does well in Edmonton. For myself, I just have to keep doing what I’m doing and continue to keep improving my game. Hopefully next year I can go to camp, have a good camp and see what happens from there.”

» pbergson@brandonsun.com

» Twitter: @PerryBergson

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