By Mark Simon
Special to NHL.com
March 12, 2004
At 26, Atlantic City Boardwalk Bullies forward Jon Cullen has the distinction of being both an ECHL rookie and one of its senior citizens. As the average age of the league has gone younger, Cullen is one of the ECHL’s elder first-year players, but he doesn’t feel that should hurt him from being viewed as a legitimate prospect.
“I’m a smaller guy, so I always have had to prove myself on the ice,” said the 5-foot-10, 175-pound Cullen. “I’ve always had to compete against bigger guys and prove I can play. There have always been doubts. Now they’re about my age. If I can just do my part on the ice, the rest will take care of itself.”
Cullen has done his part and then some in his first pro season. On a team heavily reliant on young players for its success, Cullen has thrived the most among the 12 rookies on the roster. He leads all rookies in scoring at midweek (and ranks 14th in the league) with 63 points on 24 goals and 39 assists. His 11 power-play goals and three shorthanded goals are tied for the most among first-year players.
“One of my strong points is playmaking,” Cullen said. “I think (the success) comes from a combination of things. I play with a good bunch of players. I’m linemates with (leading Atlantic City scorer) Luke Curtin. We meshed together really well.”