Even Ryan Ginand will tell you that the ECHL’s new All-Star Game format has some people scratching their heads. But what he might not realize is that this year’s “home team takes on the league’s best” format makes his selection all the more special.
With the Bakersfield Condors hosting the game this year — as well as playing in it — half the spots that would traditionally be available in the standard All-Star Game format were now gone. But even with that said, Ginand’s stellar first half could not be ignored. His 15 goals, 20 assists and 35 points all lead the Trenton Devils, as does his plus-9 rating.
“He totally earned it,” said Trenton Devils head coach Kevin Dean.
“I know every team sends a representative, but he’s an All-Star. What he did in December alone, playing the minutes he played, playing the penalty kill; which he’s not used to, all that stuff is a credit to him. He’s got a great attitude and he works his tail off. He’s coming along great.”
As for Ginand, the likeable 24-year-old didn’t seem to mind getting an opportunity to head out west while all his teammates were getting a few days off.
“I’m really excited, actually,” he said. “It will be nice to go to Bakersfield and see what it’s all about.”
And as for that controversial format?
“I don’t like that, I don’t like the concept of it. It makes no sense,” Ginand said.
“I’m curious to see how it goes, but I guess we’ll see.”
For Ginand, this marks just his second professional season, and first full season in North America after starting last season in Denmark. He’s already established career highs this year despite playing in 40 games for Trenton last season, and says a lot of his success this year just comes with being more comfortable.
“Last year was just a tough transition,” Ginand said.
“I came from Denmark, and obviously I needed to prove myself. It took a while for me to get my chance and get playing. When you’re in a role, it’s easier, obviously. The more ice time you get, the better you can do.”
From last season to this year, Ginand has certainly established himself as Trenton’s best player, if not one of the best players in the league. It seems like it’ll only be a matter of time before he gets an opportunity to take his game to the next level.
“I think so, but it’s not for me to say,” said Dean, when asked if Ginand was close to heading to the AHL.
“Depending on what happens up top, you never know. I think he could go up there and I think he could contribute and do well. With his speed and everything…and his defensive play has come a long way. That’s the thing at the next level that separates the guys. There’s something that keeps most of the players here in this league, and a lot of that is just experience. I think that’s what it was with Ginand, and he’s learning that, he’s learning the defensive side of the puck. That’s just helping him offensively as well.”
Mike Ashmore, mashmore98 AT gmail.com