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FORMER WHEAT KING CAPTAIN THRIVES WITH ISLES

Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers

Ryan Pulock continues to live the bubble life as one of four remaining teams in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Coached by Barry Trotz, the Islanders are currently battling the top seed Tampa Bay Lightning in the National Hockey League’s Eastern Conference Final. Game four of the best of seven series goes Sunday afternoon in Edmonton, with Tampa leading two games to one.

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(New York Islanders Facebook)

A former captain of the Wheat Kings and first round draft choice of the Islanders, Pulock has played a key role for the club as it looks to return to the Stanley Cup Final.

“I want to bring some of that offensive touch to the team. That’s an important thing for me,” added Pulock. “Obviously my main goal is focusing on my own defensive game, but I like to chip in offensively when I can.”

The Bubble

The Bubble is something that the NHL has implemented so that the playoffs can be played and to minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission among players, coaches, and all team officials. The Western Conference is in Edmonton while Pulock, Trotz, the Islanders and the rest of the Eastern Conference playoff teams began in Toronto.

All teams are in their designated hotels and they’re not able to leave, although the NHL has certain activities and areas that players can go. Pulock hasn’t been able to golf yet. However, he has heard rumours that it could be an option going forward, and as an avid golfer, that’s always intriguing news.

At the end of the day, however, it’s all about the task at hand and that’s winning games.

“It’s actually been pretty fun. Each team has their designated floor and we’ve had the chance to have a big ping pong tournament,” shared Pulock. “We’re getting a great chance to bond with each other and become closer. I think the NHL has done a great job in setting things up and doing everything they can to make sure everyone is safe.”

Pulock says life in the bubble has exceeded his expectations.

No fans


(New York Islanders Facebook)

Teams still have their own horns after they score a goal, but that really is the one thing similar to what they’re used to. All games are being played without fans in the stands. The NHL is doing its best to provide fans an enjoyable experience on the television.

On the ice, it’s business as usual, just without thousands and thousands of fans screaming and heckling in the stands.

“It’s been a little different, but I don’t think it’s been as bad as I expected,” ended Pulock. “I think the NHL has done a good job with some of the noise they’ve pumped in; it kind of feels real. We’re playing for a Stanley Cup so the intensity is high and everyone knows what’s up for grabs.”

Pulock is one of three former Wheat Kings with high hopes of winning the Cup this season. Joining him are Ryan Reaves and Mark Stone of the Vegas Golden Knights.

While Tampa Bay leads the Islanders 2-1 in the Eastern Final, Vegas is down three games to one to Dallas following Saturday’s 2-1 loss in Edmonton. Game five of that series goes Monday night.

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