Nothing broken, Sound Tigers all-star Pulock got a break
BRIDGEPORT — The plan had been to write this story Monday, from a lot closer to Bridgeport, N.Y., than Bridgeport, Conn.
Ryan Pulock was supposed to represent the Bridgeport Sound Tigers at the AHL’s all-star event in Syracuse, N.Y., earlier this week. He was picked for the second year in a row, in fact.
He’d have challenged Ryan Graves on Sunday in the hardest-shot contest, maybe challenging the Hartford defenseman’s bullet at nearly 104 mph. He’d have shown off his skating in the four-on-four and three-on-three scrimmages Monday night.
And then he blocked a shot off his leg Saturday night in the third period and could barely stand.
“To be honest, at the start, I wasn’t really sure” he was OK, Pulock said after he practiced with the Sound Tigers on Thursday.
“I couldn’t really put any weight on it. It kind of hit me in a good spot, right? I wear shot blockers, but it kind of missed them.”
The spot swelled quickly, and he knew he wasn’t going to be able to get his skate back on the next day. Alan Quine took his spot in Syracuse.
But at least nothing was broken.
Bridgeport has had five all-stars miss the event due to injury in the past seven years. Well, four: Mark Katic in 2010, Calvin de Haan in 2012, Joe Whitney this year, and Pulock, twice now. He injured his shoulder even before his selection was announced last year and had to miss the event.
“It is what it is. I was able to use the break for rest,” Pulock said.
The Sound Tigers’ 31-game stretch run begins Friday night at home against Lehigh Valley. The Sound Tigers’ top defense pair, Adam Pelech and Scott Mayfield, are both in the NHL right now (with Pelech reportedly out long-term).
Pulock took on some new responsibilities over the past month, more ice time and particularly more penalty-kill time, and he has thrived.
“Ryan Pulock is taking huge steps right now,” coach Brent Thompson said. “At the beginning of the year, he was getting his feet underneath him, getting the pace back. Right now, he’s playing with pace. He’s assertive. He’s moving the puck.”
Thompson said Pulock has been getting his shot off better, and he’s not just talking about the ginormous slapper that devastated the AHL last year.
“He still needs to work on staying low,” Thompson said. “He can’t lose that D-side positioning.”
But his mobility is an asset in his own zone.
“I think I’ve been moving better in the defensive zone,” Pulock said.
“I’ve been trying to defend harder, to be harder on guys. It’s been an area that needs to get better.”
His improvement has helped him be more confident.
“He’s a first-class pro,” Thompson said. “He works extremely hard. He wants to be in the NHL. He wants to help this team win. He’s doing whatever we ask to get better.
“It’s a credit to him. Everything we talk about, he does, on a daily basis. That’s why he earned a spot in the AHL All-Star Game and why he’s going to play in the NHL.”
So is the all-star defenseman ever actually going to play in an all-star game?
He shook his head with a little smile. “Good question.”
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