Andrew Poturalski has been dreaming of this moment since he first started playing hockey. On Tuesday, the 23-year-old Williamsville native will make his National Hockey League debut for the Carolina Hurricanes when they take on the Minnesota Wild.
"This is what I've worked for my whole life," Poturalski said over the phone on Tuesday afternoon. "It's not an easy process getting to the NHL but it has been a lot of hard work and a lot of long days and stuff like that but it's finally awesome that the time has come and I'm just excited to make my debut."
Poturalski has spent the year with the Charlotte Checkers of the American Hockey League, leading the club in scoring with 48 points [16G, 32A] in 69 games played.
"The hardest thing is to stay patient, you see guys all around the league making their debuts and stuff and you always want it to be you," Poturalski added. "You've gotta trust the process [subtle Joel Embiid reference] and try and get better every day and just wait for your time to come. That's what I've tried to do all year and just try to get better all year and I'm happy the time has come."
Before turning pro, Poturalski spent two seasons with the University of New Hampshire where he put up some pretty impressive numbers. In his second season, he was named a finalist for the Hobey Baker Memorial Award, given to the nation's top collegiate player. In 37 games he registered 52 points [22G, 30A].
In his summers, Poturalski, who is still a Buffalo Bills fan, spends his time training on and off the ice back home. He knows he owes a lot of his success to his time learning and improving his game in Western New York.
"Buffalo is crazy with hockey and honestly it's all I grew up with. It's kind of been my whole life but it's exciting and it's a great town with a great hockey tradition."
Poturalski's family made the trip to Minnesota to see his first game. When he steps on the ice it's a moment he'll surely never forget.
"I mean just going try and soak it all in and enjoy every moment of it, it has been my dream. Obviously to score a goal or something like that would be awesome but I'm just going to enjoy it a lot."