Kulmanovsky Blanks Crusaders

It was the one thing which had eluded Nick Kulmanovsky thus far this 2012-13 season…but such is no longer the case. The 19 year old goaltender, who has played exceptionally well all season for the Grande Prairie Storm, finally has his first AJHL shut out. 

Kulmanovsky kicking out 31 shots on Friday night, in front of 1785 fans at the Canada Games Arena, as the Storm blanked the Sherwood Park Crusaders 2-0. The product of Fairbanks, Alaska, had come close on several previous occasions, but was finally able to post his first “zero”, as he raised his record to 13-5 on the year.

Coach Blaine Bablitz credits his first-year goaltender with much of the success the Storm are having this year. Balbitz says Kulmanovsky gives the club a chance to win even when the offence isn't clicking on all cylinders.

“Nick deserves all the accolades he's getting. He's been a major part of our turn-around this season.  His great lateral movement is key to slamming the door shut on our opponent's scoring chances.”

Marc-Etienne Drapeau got the scoring started for the home side just 3:32 into the first period. However, that would be it for any more goals until Ryan Matthews found the open net in the last half minute of play. Matthews was the only Storm with multiple points, as he also assisted on Drapeau's goal.

Neither powerplay was able to get much sustained presssure, as the Crusaders went 0-for-5 and the Storm were scoreless in four opportunities. Coach Bablitz likes his club's chances any night where their penalty killers can stiffle the opposing powerplay.

“The PK unit was effective tonight, as guys were rotating well and getting into the lanes to block shots. We feel that any time where we can be 100% on the penalty kill, the odds of winning the game are heavily in our favour.”

Despite the win, the Storm remain five points back of Spruce Grove for top spot in the AJHL North, as the Saints also won, edging Whitecourt 3-2. Grande Prairie, however, still has five games in hand on Spruce Grove.

The victory was also the Storm's first in three tries this season against the Crusaders, after falling twice previously this season in Sherwood Park.  The two clubs meet again Saturday night at the Canada Games Arena. Game time is 7:30.

– Story supplied by Don Whiteford of www.PeaceCountrySports.com