Photo courtesy of Ryan Pulock

From small town to huge city with former Wheat King Pulock

Back in the 2010-11 season, a young man from Grandview, Manitoba, relocated for the first time. After living his whole life in his hometown, Ryan was set to call Brandon his hometown. Why? Because he was set to join the Western Hockey League’s Brandon Wheat Kings.

He had a solid rookie campaign with eight goals and 34 assists in the regular season. He added another two goals and four assists in the playoffs.

From there on, Pulock continued to get better and better. He returned to the “Wheat City” in the 2011-12 season where he had 19 goals and 41 assists, to go with three goals and two assists in nine playoff games.

After 156 games, Ryan didn’t go anywhere but he did enter a leadership role. He was named the team’s captain in the 2012-13 season. He had 46 points in that season, but the team didn’t qualify for the playoffs.

(Photo credit – Ryan Pulock played four seasons in Brandon.

Ryan returned to Brandon for his final junior hockey campaign the next year and enjoyed a career year. It consisted of 23 goals and 40 assists and another four playoff points in nine games.

During his time in Brandon, Pulock also played in the U17 World Hockey Championships and the U18 World Junior Championships.

Alas, the inevitability of not being able to be a junior player forever was setting in. His final game with the Brandon Wheat Kings ended up being on Friday, April 11, 2014, when his club was bounced from the playoffs by the Edmonton Oil Kings in five games.

Just as one door closed, however, a new one opened. During his final season with Brandon, Ryan played three games with the American Hockey League’s Bridgeport Sound Tigers. He had one assist in those contests.

He joined the team full-time the next season where he had 29 points in 54 games.

Back with Bridgeport in the 2016-17 season, Pulock served as an assistant captain and he played in 55 games and he had a career-high of 46 points. Bridgeport wasn’t the only place where Ryan was playing, though. He made his NHL debut with the New York Islanders in the 2015-16 season where he played 15 games. Ryan was originally drafted by the Islanders in the first round, 15th overall in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.

2017-18 brought another 68 games with the big club on Long Island. You can toss in a World Championship appearance with Hockey Canada. There’s no doubt that the last decade has been a whirlwind for the native of Grandview, Manitoba.

Growing up playing at the GACC in the Grand Plains Minor Hockey Association, Pulock made stops in Dauphin, Brandon, Bridgeport, and now he’s on Long Island full time.

Looking at the now:

There’s no surprise to the New York Islanders game plan. They play solid defence and they capitalize when they have the opportunity. It’s a game plan that has worked in the past for Barry Trotz, most notably when he helped the Washington Capitals win their first Stanley Cup title two years ago.

Now an Islander, Trotz relies on his whole team to buy-in and one of those players is a guy who plays big minutes at big times, Ryan Pulock.

The Grandview native is back with the team he started his NHL career with in the 2015-16 season. Since that 15-game season, Ryan has played in 159 games with the big club. Two of those games have come this season for a club that’s gone 1-1 so far.

They opened their season with a loss against Washington but rebounded with a solid win on Sunday against Winnipeg.

“I’m feeling good. I got to play quite a few exhibition games that got me ready for this,” said Pulock. “We had a tough couple of games to start. We played a pretty good game against Washington, we just couldn’t score.”

“Playing against the Jets we came out with a pretty complete effort and we were able to pick up a big win,” he added.

In his first two games, Pulock played more minutes than any other defenceman on his team. In turn, he also played more than any forward on the team as well. He doesn’t expect to play any less anytime soon, so that means his expectations of himself rise game-by-game.

“I’m always trying to get better and I’m always trying to produce more,” he added. “I think I’ve taken big steps on the defensive side of my game and I’m matching up against the top players on other teams.”

“I’m trying to play that shutdown role, but I also want to help out offensively,” continued Pulock.

Ryan’s career-high points-wise in the NHL came last year. He had 37 points (9G). The prior year he also was productive offensively, with 32 points.

“I think it all starts defensively. If I can play hard in my own end, we can stop their attack and sometimes I can hop up offensively,” he continued. “Also getting chances on the power play. We struggled with that last year, so it’s really important we improve with it this year and I think that will give me more chances to put up points as well.”

Both of the Islanders’ first two games were on home ice. With very minimal action coming in Manitoba, that means family mostly has to make the trip to see him play and that’s exactly what his dad, Dave Pulock did. He made the trip to Long Island to watch both of his son’s games to start the season.

“I’ve had support from my family and friends and other different people growing up,” Pulock continued. “It’s definitely special when they can come out. I think they enjoy it just as much as I do.”

“The support is huge and it’s really helped me push forward,” said Pulock “It’s really helped me with my career.”

Pulock and the club continue their homestand tonight. They welcome the 2-0 Edmonton Oilers to town. Ryan will play in Winnipeg against the Jets on October 17.

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