It’s not quite how Ryan Pulock envisioned his draft season unfolding.
One of the chief exports of the Western Hockey League for the 2013 NHL Draft, Pulock missed six games earlier in the season with a facial injury. A chipped bone in his wrist sidelined him for much of January.
To add insult to injury, his Brandon Wheat Kings are in the WHL’s Eastern Conference basement.
Needless to say, Pulock pictured his season going a lot different last summer.
“It’s been a different year for me,” said Pulock, who has missed 11 games in all this season. “I haven’t had to work through the injuries like I have through this year. It’s something new and it’s definitely very frustrating for me to have all this happen all in one year. I guess it’s part of the game and not much you can do about it.”
Serving as captain, it’s been difficult to lead his struggling squad from the sidelines.
“I’ve tried as hard as I can,” he said. “Obviously it’s tough when you’re not in the room before the game but I try to stick around the guys as much as possible and give my feedback to them but there’s only so much you can do.”
When he’s been in the lineup, Pulock has been one of the best the league has to offer. With 10 goals and 31 points in just 40 games, the six-foot-one, 211-pound blueliner is still situated among the league’s top-15 scorers at his position.
When he hasn’t been, Pulock’s been forced to watch from above – something that doesn’t sit well with the Grandview, MB. product.
“We’ve gone through some tough times this year and sitting up top and watching has made it that much tougher,” Pulock said. “It just kind of the way the year’s gone so far and hopefully we can turn it around and at least have a strong finish.”
What’s worse, Pulock was forced to watch the CHL/NHL Top Prospects Game, a bout between 40 of his top peers playing Major Junior. Originally named to compete, Pulock was forced to withdraw with a damaged wrist.
“That was definitely tough,” he said. “It was bad timing with things. Not much I guess I could’ve done about it but it’s the way it went.”
Though he’s since returned to Brandon’s lineup, he’s sporting a less than favourable accessory – playing with a cast.
Serving to protect the injured wrist, it also inhibits the movement he’s able to make with his bottom hand. So, while he remains the Wheat Kings’ top threat from the point, Pulock is playing at well under capacity.
“There’s a lot of limitations to my game,” he said, adding he’ll be re-evaluated in two weeks time. “There’s no movement in my wrist so it’s kind of tough at times. I don’t quite have the power I usually would but right now it’s something I’ve got to work through.”
He’s had experience.
He’s spent the entire season working through some difficult circumstances in his draft year.