Ryan Pulock is far from a household name, but he was sort of a big deal on Thursday night when he made his season debut in the New York Islanders’ cross-town rivalry game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.
Prior to the puck drop, Islanders head coach Doug Weight confirmed that Pulock was going to play and Jaroslav Halak would be the starting goaltender.
Pulock began his hockey career with the Brandon Wheat Kings of the Western Hockey League. The 23-year-old right-handed defenseman matriculated to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers of the American Hockey League, where he notched 39 goals – 22 on the power play – in three seasons. He then traveled to Brooklyn to play for the Islanders after signing a three-year, $4.275 million contract.
However, his professional career hasn’t always been smooth sailing as he only played 15 games during the 2015-16 season and one game in the 2016-17 season. He certainly got a couple of chances to prove himself, but Thursday’s opportunity was specifically for a more permanent spot in the Isles’ lineup.
Pulock addressed the local media, saying, “It’s exciting. Now’s my chance & I’m just looking to go in there & get pucks on net & use my shot, obviously that’s a big part of my game.”
The Isles entered Rangers territory with a dreadful 0-for-20 record on the power play. They finally ended that zip record as Pulock deflected a pass to Anders Lee, who jammed the shot into the net for a power-play goal, just 2:40 into the opening period. Pulock collected his first point (assist) of the season on Lee’s third goal of the season.
Pulock was a notable member of the Isles’ top power play group, which consisted of Lee, John Tavares, Nick Leddy, and Jordan Eberle. He might not be the immediate answer to the team’s power play woes, but his moment was definitely one to remember. He provided a much-needed spark to the lackluster power play.