[sny-box]The Brandon Wheat Kings had just beaten the Medicine Hat Tigers 6-3 on Monday night at the MTS Centre, taking a surprising 2-1 lead in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference quarter-final series, and the locker-room was a place of unbridled joy. Teenage kids living the dream, and winning.
It was then that Brandon's head coach and GM Kelly McCrimmon quietly approached his stud 16-year-old defenceman Ryan Pulock.
"I know what day it is tomorrow," McCrimmon whispered, below the din. "You can go home."
The day was Tuesday, March 29, the first anniversary of the worst day in Pulock's life, when his 13-year-old brother, Brock, lost his life in a car accident while the family was driving to see the oldest of three Pulock sons, Derrick, play for the hometown Grandview Comets senior hockey team.
Ryan Pulock was in the car, too, along with his mother, Tannis, and grandmother.[/sny-box]
The story of Pulock's loss is a tough one, for what is described by the Free Press as a family that "is never far away." In fact, Ryan pays tribute to his brother through hockey:
[sny-box]But Brock is never far from his older brother's thoughts. Ryan has a tattoo of a Maple Leaf on his chest with the No. 4, Brock's number. That same number is written on the blade of every one of Ryan's hockey sticks.
"I want to make it as far as I can," Ryan said. "That's what he'd want me to do. Try to make him proud. He's in the back of my head in everything I do. All the time."[/sny-box]