The defense of the men’s hockey team took another hit on July 6, as junior defender Sasha Pokulok inked a contract with the Washington Capitals of the National Hockey League.
Pokulok is the second member of the Red’s defensive unit to jump to the professional this postseason, as junior goaltender David McKee signed with the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in April. The terms of Pokulok’s contract were not disclosed.
This was not an unexpected development, as Pokulok became the first-ever Cornell player to be taken in the first round of the NHL entry draft when the Capitals selected him with the 14th overall pick in 2005.
“We’re all very happy that Sasha will have a chance to fulfill a lifelong dream of his — playing professional hockey,” said head coach Mike Schafer ’86 in a statement. “We wish him the best as he moves on to a new challenge.”
“Sasha is a big, strong defenseman who we are excited to add to our group of young prospects,” said Washington Capitals vice president and general manager, George McPhee in a statement. “His game has progressed nicely in two years at Cornell and we feel confident that he is ready to take his talents to the professional level.”
The 6-5, 230-pound defender had an immediate impact from the blue line for the Red, amassing 10 points in his first two collegiate games and was also named to the all-tournament team at the Florida College Classic and the 2004-05 ECACHL All-Rookie team during his freshman campaign. Over the course of the 2005-06 season, Pokulok notched four goals and nine assists in 27 games for Cornell, helping the team to a 22-9-4 record and a spot in the NCAA quarterfinals, where the Red lost, 1-0, to eventual national champion Wisconsin in triple overtime. Pokulok leaves the East Hill after appearing in 53 games in two season, tallying a total of seven goals and 16 helpers for a career 23 points.