The ’12 Days of Christmas’ is a classic holiday song first published in its current form in 1908. In a nod to the classic carol, join The Hockey Writers as we count down the 12 Days of Hockeymas. Each day, we will provide you with a piece of hockey history as we eagerly await the start of the 2020-21 NHL season.
If we knew anything about Ryan Pulock before he was drafted by the New York Islanders, it was that he had an absolute rocket of a slap shot. From the moment the Islanders chose him with the 15th-overall pick in 2013, fans knew they were in for a treat. He’s shown he’s more than his slap shot, becoming a top defender on Long Island, but his offense continues to progress as he enters his fourth NHL season. Here are the top five goals so far in his career.
5: Pulock All Alone
Pulock’s offensive prowess was clearly on display here against the Vegas Golden Knights. On the power play, he saw an opportunity to sneak down the middle and open himself up for a pass. Taking the space available, he stepped up to win the game in overtime.
After the Islanders’ 17-game point streak, the remainder of the shortened 2019-20 season was an up and down affair. Wins like this showed the team’s resiliency and helped the Islanders’ close out a decent December before a turn for the worse, as injuries added up in January and February. Luckily, they managed to bounce back and make it within two games of the Stanley Cup Final.
4: Pulock Pots a Pair
The Islanders’ 2018-19 season was one many fans will remember for a long time. A bounce-back season with new management and head coach rejuvenated the fan base, and it was a win like this one against the Colorado Avalanche that made it easy to believe.
Pulock’s two goals, including the overtime winner, came from nearly the same spot. The first one was the result of a casual give-and-go with Jordan Eberle and the second after some hard work and nifty moves by Casey Cizikas, who doesn’t often get the credit he deserves on a heavily defensive team.
3: Windy City Snipe
Pulock’s snipe against the Chicago Blackhawks wasn’t a typical laser-focused slap shot like we’re used to seeing. Instead, the goal showed us his ability to see offensive chances and jump into holes. After receiving a back pass from Alan Quine, Pulock took the puck down the half-wall, beat the Blackhawks’ forward to the net and roofed a short-side shot for his third point of the period.
2: Third Period Rocket
Pulock has a knack for heroics and is always in a position late in a game to help put the Islanders on top.
Against the Philadelphia Flyers during the 2019-20 season in what we would be a playoff series preview, Mat Barzal circled the wagons in the dying seconds of the third period, finding Pulcok above the right circle before blasting home the game-winner.
1: Pulock Opens Scoring
In what would be the last goal of the season for Pulock, he opened up the scoring against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a must-win Game 5 in the Eastern Conference Final. From his signature spot on the point, Pulock set up on the power play and was fed a perfect pass from Nick Leddy before scoring the first goal of the game.
The game was eventually tied, leading to two white-knuckle overtimes. Luckily, the Islanders came out on top after Anders Lee picked up the puck just inside his own zone. Racing down the ice on a two-on-one with Eberle, he slid the puck over for a quick one-timer to win the game forcing a Game 7.
Pulock has become a leader for the Islanders and a go-to defender for head coach Barry Trotz. He’s found ways to contribute offensively despite a more defensive style of play implemented over the past two seasons. Islanders fans can expect more of the same for the 2020-21 season after Pulock signed a two-year deal earlier this year.
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Jon Zella is a 30-year-old Long Island native currently living in Syracuse, NY. Outside of hockey, he enjoys motorcycles, beer, coffee, and his dog Olive.