Thursday, January 24, 2013

Pulock Poised for Return

Ryan Pulock practiced fully with the Wheat Kings in Red Deer
on Thursday
The Brandon Wheat Kings should have their captain back on Friday night when they open a three-game in three-night Alberta road trip in Red Deer.

Ryan Pulock has missed the last five games with a chipped bone in his wrist but was fitted with a playing cast earlier this week and was medically cleared to return to the Brandon lineup.

Pulock practiced fully with the club Thursday in Red Deer for the first time since suffering the injury January 8th and while there were some limitations, the Grandview, Manitoba product felt pretty good overall.

“I mean, obviously, there’s some mobility issues there,” said Pulock, who was ranked sixth among North American skaters in the NHL Central Scouting Service’s mid-term rankings earlier this month, “It’s a thing that you need to battle through and I’m prepared to do that.”

Pulock also missed six games earlier this season with a facial injury but is still tied for 11th among all WHL defencemen in scoring with 31 points, including ten goals.

His return couldn’t have come at a better time for the Wheat Kings, who have a challenging weekend ahead with not only playing three games in a 45-hour span but also facing three of the top four teams in the WHL’s Eastern Conference in Red Deer, Edmonton and Calgary.

“I think this is a key step in the year. They’re some tough teams, but definitely beatable teams if we come out and play the games we need to play,” said Pulock, “It’s getting down to the wire here and we need to step up and start getting some points.”

Brandon (17-27-2-2) will enter the weekend 11 points out of a playoff spot – the furthest the team has been out of a playoff spot in two decades – but the club has gone 3-2-0-0 in five games since the WHL trade deadline.

The Wheat Kings have played better over the past two weeks and Pulock is just hoping to slide back into the lineup and add to what has already been established in recent games.

“Last few games have been pretty solid. There was a little setback against Saskatoon (on Tuesday) but I think it was a good learning curve for us,” said Pulock, “Guys realize that they have to come to work every night, they can’t take nights off or else it’s really going to hurt you. With me coming back, it’s going to add a little bit of excitement – I’m excited, for sure.”

Pulock’s return could also be a boost to Brandon’s power-play, which has gone 3-for-22 in his absence and has now fallen to 21st-place in the Western Hockey League.

Chaff...Pulock may not be the only returnee to the Wheat Kings’ lineup Friday. Rookie F John Quenneville practiced fully Thursday after missing the last three games with a groin injury...D Rene Hunter also practiced fully Thursday after leaving Brandon’s last game in the second period with what appeared to be a hand injury...Brandon is 3-0-0-0 against the Rebels this season including a 6-5 win in their only other visit to Red Deer on December 30th... Brandon netminders Corbin Boes and Curtis Honey have combined for a 2.37 GAA and .931 SPCT in five games since the January 10th trade deadline...after this weekend’s road trip, the Wheat Kings will play eight of their next nine games on home ice.

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