Some events are destined to occur. Kent Hulst’s induction into the Portland Pirates’ Hall of Fame was one such event. In the itinerant world of professional hockey, his long-standing relationship with the Pirates was unique. Hulst is the all-time franchise leader in several categories. He played in 473 games during nearly eight seasons with the Pirates. His 147 goals and 360 points are also franchise records. He also has a franchise career record 19 game-winning goals. In addition, Hulst has played in more playoff games (67) than any other Pirate. He and Andrew Brunette are tied for the franchise lead in playoff points (51). Hulst is the all-time playoff goal-scoring leader (22).
Hulst joined the Pirates during the first month of the 1993-94 season, the team’s first in Portland. He played his first game for the Pirates on October 20, 1993, a 3-2 win over the Moncton Hawks. That season, he would score a career-high 34 goals and finish with 67 points. After an injury-shortened 1994-95 season, Hulst set more career highs in 1995-96 with 47 assists and 72 points. He was second in team scoring that year. Hulst helped lead the Pirates from the AHL’s worst record at the half-way point of the season to game seven of the Calder Cup Finals. That year, he was third on the team in postseason scoring with eleven goals and 27 points. He led the team with four game-winning goals.
Hulst was originally drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 4th round of the 1986 NHL Entry Draft. After a standout junior career with the Belleville Bulls of the Ontario Hockey League, he got his first professional experience playing seven games for the Flint Spirts of the old International Hockey League during the 1988-89 season. He would also play in two playoff games for the Newmarket Saints of the AHL that same year. It was there that he met former Pirates’ assistant coach Paul Gardner, the coach he played for during the 1989-90 season in Newmarket. Gardner is credited with bringing Hulst to Portland because of their relationship.
Hulst has received several honors during his career. He was given the President’s Award following the 1996-97 season as the player who best represents the Pirates on the ice and in the community. He was the co-winner of the Players’ Player Award following the 1999-2000 season. He was also chosen as the captain of the Team Canada squad for the 2001 First Union AHL All-Star Classic played in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, Pennsylvania. It was his first All-Star action.
Hulst is current the head coach of the Portland Junior Pirates
YEAR INDUCTED: 2002