Ginley, Kulmanovsky Earning Recognition Throughout NAHL

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Ginley, Kulmanovsky earning recognition throughout NAHL

When hometown players in the North American Hockey League come to mind, it’s easy to think of the five for the Fairbanks Ice Dogs — defenseman Justin Woods and forwards Logan Wendling, Colton Wolter, Tayler Munson and Alec Hajdukovich.

Joe Ginley and Nick Kulmanovsky also are from this part of the planet and they’ve been significant contributors this season to their respective teams’ successes in the junior league.

Ginley, a 5-foot-11, 175-pound center, is the fifth-leading scorer for the Corpus Christi Ice Rays in his first full season with the Texas program.

“The kid’s a workhorse, he’s an unbelievable skater and he works 110 percent on every shift,” Ryan Bennett, Corpus Christi assistant coach and scouting director, said during a telephone interview Wednesday afternoon.

Kulmanovsky’s goaltending is a key reason that the Alaska Avalanche of Palmer are in first place in the NAHL’s West Division.

“I think Nick has got great attributes,” Alaska head coach and general manager Corey Millen said by cell phone Wednesday. “He’s a good competitor and he strives to be a great goalie.”

DJ Carnley, a forward from North Pole, started this season in the NAHL with the Fresno (Calif.) Monsters, contributing four goals and an assist in 14 games for the West Division squad.

Ginley was playing last season for the California Titans in the NAHL Prospects League when he received a tender from Corpus Christi. The 2010 graduate of Moorpark High School in California joined the Ice Rays in time for the 2011 NAHL playoffs.

Ginley discovered year-around mostly pleasant weather in Corpus Christi — “It’s not negative 50,” he said with a laugh —, and an offensive side of his game.

Ginley has generated eight goals and 17 assists for 25 points in 40 games for the Ice Rays, who are in playoff contention in the South Division with a fourth-place record of 20-20-3.

“Mainly, they (coaches) pushed me and told me what I had to do to play,” Ginley said. “I make it personal to go to the corners and be the first to the puck.”

Ginley’s totals, said Bennett, are all the work of the 19-year-old center, who played for Monroe Catholic as a freshman and West Valley as a sophomore before heading to a midget hockey program and attending high school in Cochrane, Alberta, as a junior.

“We didn’t do anything; all of his points came through his hard work,” Bennett said. “He doesn’t give up on any play and he takes the puck to the net. He’s a meat-and-potatoes type of guy who’s not afraid to get in the slot and shoot the puck. He creates a lot of opportunities for us.”

Kulmanovsky thrives on trying to deny scoring opportunities.

Calmness between the pipes is one of the reasons that the second-year junior netminder sports a 17-9-1 record with a 2.59 goals against average and .911 saves percentage for the West Division-leading Avalanche (28-14-3).

“One of the things I stress in my preparation before the game is to not let my emotions control my game,” the 18-year-old said Wednesday night by phone. “We’re trying to get this team to first place (at the end of the regular season) and I’m doing everything I can to help out.”

The Avalanche coaches have been doing a lot to help the 5-foot-11, 175-pounder be mentally sharp every time he plays.

“He’s young and he’s still learning the mental aspect of the game,” Millen said. “That’s what junior (hockey) is for.”

The current Palmer High School senior literally grew up in hockey.

He started playing at age 2 and later developed through the Arctic Knights youth program. He spent his freshman and sophomore years of high school at Culver Academy in Indiana before spending his junior year with the Fargo (N.D.) Force in the United States Hockey League and the NAHL’s Wenatchee (Wash.) Wild, who traded him late last season to the West Division rival Avalanche.

Also, his father, Dima, played collegiately as a left wing for the Alaska Nanooks from 1992-95.

“I just kind of grew up around hockey. It’s more like I kind of walked into it,” Nick Kulmanovsky said.

Danny Martin

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