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Neal Pionk

Mar 24, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Neal Pionk (44) acknowledges the fan after being named the third star of the game and scoring his first career NHL goal in a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports (Danny Wild)
Mar 24, 2018; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Neal Pionk (44) acknowledges the fan after being named the third star of the game and scoring his first career NHL goal in a 5-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Danny Wild-USA TODAY Sports (Danny Wild)

Neal Pionk scored his first career NHL goal in tonight's win over Buffalo.

Pionk spoke after the game and said (NYR Game Notes):

  • On his goal tonight"It started with a great play all around by the forwards. I think Zucc entered the zone, kicked it out to Hayesy. Haysey dropped it to Ves and Ves made one heck of a play. All I had to do was tap it in."
  •  On realizing he scored his first NHL goal…"It's hard to believe it at first. It's just such a great feeling when those guys come get you and they all give you a huge hug. Something I will never forget."
  •  On Lindy Ruff's assessment that the more responsibility he gets, the more comfortable he seems…"I've handled that before in past seasons with previous teams. So when I get more responsibility it's about easing into it, not trying to be too complicated, and taking it game-by-game."
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Feb 13, 2018; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Neal Pionk (44) during a game between the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)
Feb 13, 2018; Saint Paul, MN, USA; New York Rangers defenseman Neal Pionk (44) during a game between the Minnesota Wild and New York Rangers at Xcel Energy Center. Mandatory Credit: Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sports (Brace Hemmelgarn)

Neal Pionk had three assists in Wednesday's win over Pittsburgh and led all skaters with 26:03 in the game.

Pionk, 22, has five assists in the past three games and eight points in the last eight games.

Since Pionk was called up, Alain Vigneault has said:

  • 2/14: He's a good skating defenseman, is willing to take a hit to make a play, has good poise with the puck, improved skating since training camp and a "smart young man" with a good understanding of the game.
  • 2/15: He can skate his way out of trouble, makes easy outlet passes and was got more ice time due to the injury to Steve Kampfer.
  • 2/16: Pionk, and John Gilmour, have made contributions in a "very positive way" and that the challenge for them will be being able to sustain and maintain their level of play on a consistent basis.
  • 3/12: "I've really liked his game, both with the puck and without it." Pionk is a "smart player, has a good "gap and "competes."
  • 3/14: Marc Staal was asked by Pierre McGuire about Pionk and said,"he was unbelievable tonight, I thought he played outstanding. He's been solid and getting better and better." (NBCSN)
  • 3/16/18 | Vigneault said on Friday, "I think that with Neal, he is a bright young man. He understands the game and I think he understands the percentages in the game. He is putting himself in a good spot, I really like his compete level, he competes hard. He has a good skill set and he can make that pass and there is no doubt that in college and prior to that he was considered an offensive defenseman and good on the rush, good on the PP. There is some upside there with him. We need to continue to work at his game and improve it."
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Feb 11, 2018; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; New York Rangers defenseman John Gilmour (58) skates away from Winnipeg Jets forward Nic Petan (19) during the second period at Bell MTS Place. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Terrence Lee)
Feb 11, 2018; Winnipeg, Manitoba, CAN; New York Rangers defenseman John Gilmour (58) skates away from Winnipeg Jets forward Nic Petan (19) during the second period at Bell MTS Place. Mandatory Credit: Terrence Lee-USA TODAY Sports (Terrence Lee)

Through two games in the NHL, John Gilmour and Neal Pionk have played:

John Gilmour:

  • Calgary: 17:11, 2 shots on goal, 2 shot attempts blocked, 2 hits, 1 giveaway, 2 takeaways (12:24 at even strength, 2:46 PP, 2:01 PK)
  • Winnipeg: 12:45, 3 shots on goal, 3 shot attempts blocked, 1 missed shot, 2 giveaways (10:18 even strength, 2:27 PP)

Neal Pionk:

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Sep 18, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers Neal Pionk (44) scores the game winning goal against New York Islanders goalie Eamon McAdam (34) in overtime at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)
Sep 18, 2017; New York, NY, USA; New York Rangers Neal Pionk (44) scores the game winning goal against New York Islanders goalie Eamon McAdam (34) in overtime at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports (Noah K. Murray)

Neal Pionk scored the OT winner for the Rangers in tonight's game against the Islanders.

To see the video, click below.

Pionk spoke after the game and said (NYR Game Notes):

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Chris Drury said that the Rangers have been looking at Neal Pionk for two seasons and that every team is looking for right handed puck moving defensemen. (NYR)

Drury said that Pionk's combo of "character, compete level and grit, to go along with the way he plays the game - both offensively and defensively - are the reasons why we wanted to add him." (NYR)

Gordie Clark said that Pionk was the top offensive college free agent defenseman on the market and said that he has the opportunity to be the right hand shot offensive defenseman the Rangers have been looking for. (NYR)

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Defenseman Neal Pionk said that he chose the Rangers after visiting with the organization, meeting the management team and speaking with Alain Vigneault. (Duluth News Tribune)

It was reported when he signed that around 20 teams were interested in Pionk.

Pionk said that he likes the Rangers style of play as well as the success they have had the past few years. (Duluth News Tribune)

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The Rangers have announced that they have signed defenseman Neal Pionk out of the University of Minnesota Duluth.

Pionk, 21, had seven goals and 27 assists in 42 games as a sophomore this past season and is 6-0, 190.

From the Rangers release, "He established collegiate career-highs in several categories in 2016-17, including games played, goals, assists, points, and plus/minus rating. In addition, Pionk helped Minnesota Duluth win the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Championship, and he also helped the team advance to the Frozen Four and the National Championship Game."

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