New York Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton announced today that the team has recalled defenseman Neal Pionk from the Hartford Wolf Pack of the American Hockey League (AHL).
Pionk, 22, has skated in 48 games with the Wolf Pack this season, registering one goal and 16 assists for 17 points, along with 20 penalty minutes. He ranks fifth among AHL rookie defensemen in assists and ranks ninth among AHL rookie defensemen in points thus far in 2017-18. In addition, Pionk ranks second among Wolf Pack defensemen in assists and points this season. He has recorded eight assists/points in his last 12 AHL games. Pionk made his AHL debut on Oct. 6 vs. Charlotte, and he tallied his first career AHL assist/point while skating in his second career AHL game on Oct. 8 vs. Lehigh Valley.
The 6-0, 190-pounder played two seasons of collegiate hockey with the University of Minnesota Duluth (2015-16 and 2016-17) prior to beginning his professional career. Pionk skated in 82 career collegiate games, registering 11 goals and 40 assists for 51 points, along with a plus-35 rating and 69 penalty minutes. He helped the University of Minnesota Duluth win the National Collegiate Hockey Conference (NCHC) Championship and advance to the Frozen Four and National Championship Game in 2016-17, as he recorded 34 points (seven goals, 27 assists) and a plus-24 rating in 42 games. Pionk tied for fourth among NCAA defensemen in assists, ranked fifth among NCAA defensemen in points, and ranked sixth among NCAA defensemen in plus/minus rating in 2016-17, as he was selected to the NCHC Second All-Star Team, the NCHC All-Tournament Team, and the NCAA Frozen Four All-Tournament Team.
The Hermantown, Minnesota, native was signed by the Rangers as an undrafted free agent on May 1, 2017.