FAIRBANKS-Former Alaska Nanook hockey center Cody Kunyk made his NHL debut Sunday for the Tampa Lightning. After being a healthy scratch for nine games Kunyk played a little over 10 minutes in Tampa's regular season finale against the Washington Capitals.
The WCHA player of the year got 2 shots on goal, a block and a hit as Tampa won 1-0 in a shootout over the Caps. The win gives the Lightning the Eastern Conference 4 seed and home ice against the no.5 Montreal Canadiens in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Kunyk was interviewed by FoxSports at the first intermission and described what his first NHL experience was like.
"Stepping on the ice for the first time for warm-ups there the guys kind of let me go out there alone and make a fool of myself but you know I knew that was coming. It's a huge honor to be on the same ice as some of these guys," Kunyk said.
Kunyk also mentioned the difference he felt between pro and college hockey.
"Definitely the speed and the size of the guys. Coming out of college there's still some of those guys that are playing like they're still in juniors and stuff like and so definitely the change in speed. I think it was after my second shift it felt like I played a full game already."
"[I] just got to be smart and not be too chancy with the bounces of the puck but you know the biggest thing for me is just focusing on the defense first and hopefully the offense will come."