RILEY POLLOCK – 04.27.2023

It didn’t take long for Dryden Hunt to make an impact in the playoffs.

He opened the scoring for the Wranglers Wednesday night in his first AHL postseason tilt, after suiting up in 246 regular-season outings over five years in the league.

In Game 1 against Abbotsford, he threw a puck towards the net and caught a deflection off of a Canucks defender’s stick to find twine at the 13:19 mark of the opening frame.

It certainly wasn’t his most highlight-reel-worthy goal, but the way a puck goes in doesn’t matter – especially in playoffs.

Calgary skated to a 3-2 overtime victory and can take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series on Friday night at the Scotiabank Saddledome. Puck drop is at 7 P.M. (TICKETS)

“We talked about that (before the series),” said Hunt after practice Thursday. “In the playoffs, you aren’t always going to get the prettiest of goals.

“Obviously it went off somebody’s stick but it’s more about getting there. Getting the first one out of the way is nice and it was a great crowd last night so it was a fun game.”

Hunt has adopted Calgary as his home. He had a house in the city before he was traded here on March 3 in a deal between the Flames and Maple Leafs, and has enjoyed every minute of playing at the ‘Dome for the Wranglers since then.

“It’s been pretty surreal playing here,” he explained. “I’ve got my house, I get to drive to practice from my house. It’s a weird feeling, I’ve always been on the East Coast, so far away from home, so it’s pretty special to play here.”

It may have been Hunt’s first AHL playoff game Wednesday, but many of his teammates got a lot of postseason experience as members of the Stockton Heat last year. Hunt says that experience – mixed with some of the fresh faces in the locker-room – is a great mix when making a push for the Calder Cup.

“A lot of the guys have been there before they went on a long run last year,” he said. “Experience helps for sure and I also think it helps to have the young energy, a little bit of that ignorance of just not knowing what playoffs are all about, sometimes that can benefit you as well so we have a little bit of everything.”