By Warren Kozireski–
Former Nichols School and Williamsville native Andrew Poturalski recorded the second-highest rookie scoring total in his first pro campaign with the Charlotte Checkers two seasons ago and came close to equaling that mark last season.
Over the first two games of this, his third full in the American Hockey League with the Carolina Hurricanes affiliate, he scored twice and added three helpers for five points.
What more does a guy need to do to get an NHL call-up?
“Getting off to a hot start is everything that you need to do in this league and try to impress those guys up top,” Poturalski said after the first of two games in Rochester. “Go out and play your game and make things happen and control what you can control.
“I was a little disappointed (in training camp) that I didn’t get in any games in the preseason, but I’m here and being evaluated every single day, so I want to go out and show them what I can do.
“Everyone’s goal is to play in the NHL and that’s the same with everyone on our team…but you can’t really worry about those things because it will affect your game on the ice, so you worry about you…and see what happens.”
Three seasons at Nichols and one with the Buffalo Jr. Sabres led to a three-year stint in the United States Hockey League with Cedar Rapids, where he got noticed with 64 points in 60 games in his final year there including 27 goals.
That led to the University of New Hampshire where, in his sophomore season, he ranked second in the nation in scoring with 52 points in 37 games and was named First Team All-American and a Hobey Baker Award finalist.
He left college early to sign with Carolina, but not before being invited to a few NHL tryout camps.
“It was right after my freshman year and I thought I had a pretty good showing at UNH my freshman year and got a couple invites (to Buffalo and Boston camps). It was cool to get a taste of what pro hockey is like and what I need to do to succeed.”
Poturalski says he gets his competitive drive from his mom Diane, a LaSalle High (Niagara Falls) grad who played two years of Division I softball at the University of Iowa and was a 2002 inductee into the Erie Community College Athletic Hall of Fame. “I’d like to think I got her passion and aggression and she’s the one who is all over me if I play bad, so I definitely owe a lot of that to her.”
He needed that drive when recovering from breaking the same leg three different times in three different places over the course of a year before college.
“Bad things happen in three’s and I broke my leg three times, so I think I’m done with that. I really don’t put much thought into that anymore, but it gives me a greater appreciation for the game and how fortunate we are to play for a living, so I took some positives out of it even though it was a tough situation.”
The 5’10”, 190 lb. right shot has played center for most of his career, but moved to wing last year. That could make him more versatile if and when that opening happens at the NHL level.
“Hockey is always my passion and I never saw myself doing anything else with my life, so I’m just trying to stick with it and do as much as I can before my time is up.”