During a season and during a career, there are ups and downs, and ebbs and flows. Good days and bad days.
On the whole, January 6, 2013 was a pretty good day for Vancouver Giants defenseman Brett Kulak.
In the negative side of the ledger, Kulak’s Giants club dropped their third game in as many days with a 5-4 nail-biter loss to the Calgary Hitmen. On the positive side? The NHL lockout ended, Kulak put up a goal and two assists for his first three-point game in the WHL in front of Calgary Flames brass, and he celebrated his 19th birthday.
“It was really exciting for me to get the goal on my birthday,” said Kulak, after the game. “And on Friday, it was my brother’s birthday. I got a goal that night too, in Red Deer. It’s always nice that my family can come here and watch the games. It’s always good to play good in front of them.”
The weekend’s offensive explosion is par for the course for Kulak’s up and down 2012-13 campaign. The Giants struggled out of the gate and then began a hasty re-build; they shipped out Nathan Burns, David Musil and Austin Vetterl in October alone. The Giants’ moves have left them with a very raw, young club anchored by a very young blueline anchored by Kulak. After all the wheeling and dealing, Kulak remains as the only NHL-drafted player on the club, and is given a bit more freedom to become a catalyst for his team.
The new-found freedom has also lead to more offensive production for Kulak and a more prominent role on the club. While his 25 points thus far this season represent a career high (and an major uptick in production for him), he’s also factored in on double the percentage of Giants’ goals as he did last year. He notes that his appearance at Calgary Flames development camp in early July allowed him to evaluate his game.
“The development camp was really good for me,” said Kulak. “I got to see how fast things were going and how fast those guys moved around. I think from that time until now, I think physically I’ve gotten a bit stronger, a bit heavier and stuff. Just doing what I can to help the team, I’ve got to be a good role-model for the young guys who are developing here.”
Kulak likely has another year left in the Western Hockey League, as his early 1994 birthday means that he won’t be considered an overager until the 2014-15 season. For now, Kulak is taking things one game at a time and settling into his new role as a veteran leader on a very young Vancouver Giants club.
“Obviously we’re not the team we were last year and that, but still being able to put up numbers, I’m happy with that. I’m just trying to come out each night and work my hardest. The points will come, I guess, just hard work. I’ve got to put on a good show so the young guys who are developing can watch,” said Kulak.