Hermantown Native, Winnipeg Defenseman Neal Pionk Talks Quarantine Life

Pionk added that he knows it's going to be a while until he goes back to Winnipeg so in the meantime, he's staying in game shape.

DULUTH, Minn. – Four weeks ago, the NHL announced it would be suspending play immediately due to the coronavirus pandemic. That left many players, including Winnipeg defenseman and Hermantown native Neal Pionk, scrambling for answers in a situation that no one was prepared for.

“It was a time of the unknown. Usually in a world where you know things, you’re at least informed on stuff. But we had no idea what’s going on. It was a kind of sit and waiting kind of game in Winnipeg and honestly, it still is to this day,” said Pionk.

A few days after the announcement the jets told their players to return to their off-season homes as the team facilities would have to be closed.

“It worked out for me and a couple others who are closer to Winnipeg versus other guys who are far away. During the time that we were packing, we also got a text that borders could be potentially closed off in the next coming days so get out while you can. It was chaotic. It was hectic. But we made it,” Pionk said.

The NHL has been throwing out ideas to find a way to salvage the season. But Pionk says he wants to be realistic with his expectations.

“Obviously, everybody has their own circumstances that they’ll throw out and hypothetical playoff ideas. But those ideas can’t even start until we know more about what’s going on and when it’s going to end,” said Pionk.

Pionk added that he knows it’s going to be a while until he goes back to Winnipeg. So in the meantime, he’s staying in game shape.

“I took probably a week off and kind of just let the body heal and relax. But then after that, I don’t have a gym at my house but I’ve been doing body-weight workouts and pretty light stuff in a combination for just staying in shape, but also breaking the boredom too. It’s something to do to be honest,” Pionk said.

When the suspension was announced, the Jets were on a four-game win streak and sitting in first place in the Western Confernece wild card race.

“There was like four teams within two points of each other and about 12 to 13 games left, depending on the teams so it was going to be a heck of a race. That was something I was looking forward to,” said Pionk.

Pionk also gave a shout-out to fellow Hermantown native Dylan Samberg, who signed with the Jets earlier this week.

“We come from the same mold, as far as Hermantown and UMD. And we grew up knowing their family, too, with Hermantown being a small community and myself having three younger brothers. We’ve always known Dylan. We’ve known their family and we’re really excited to get him up there,” Pionk said.

Categories: Friday Night Frenzy, Professional Sports, Sports, University of Minnesota – Duluth