Colorado Rubber

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After five seasons in Colorado, Wyoming native Salmans heading home to play for NCDC’s Warbirds


Joey Salmans started playing hockey in Wyoming before leaving for Colorado prior to the 2019-20 season.

Earlier this offseason, Salmans decided to head back home, signing to play for the NCDC’s Casper Warbirds near his hometown of Laramie.

“The coach (Jacob Smulevitch) watched me play throughout last season and has been interested in having me play for him,” said Salmans. “Playing in my home state close to my hometown at a rink that I grew up playing in was a big reason for going there and also playing for a coach who cares about the players.”

In Colorado, Salmans played for the NoCo Jr. Eagles in 2019-20, then the Rocky Mountain RoughRiders from 2020-22 and Colorado Thunderbirds from 2022-24.

“This last season was an amazing environment with a great group of guys who all bought in to the process,” Salmans said. “Success was not measured by wins and losses last year. We grew as a group and I developed a ton of hockey IQ and leadership skills throughout the season.

“I’ll always remember the great group of guys that I have had the opportunity to play with each year that helped each other to achieve their goals.”

Growing up, Salmans said hockey became his passion early on and that he’s grown to love the game more and more each season.

“I have always looked up to my older brother as a role model,” Salmans said. “Watching my brother play in Laramie and enjoy the sport encouraged me to want to play as well. My parents always had the Avs playing on the TV which made me look up to them as well.

“I had a lot of influential coaches in Colorado. Rhett Gordon from NoCo made a huge impact in my career preparing me for AAA hockey. Neil Runbeck from the RoughRiders helped me develop my skating and puck handling. Phil Patenaude coached me my last two years of 18U hockey and taught me a lot about playing at the next level and a lot about life beyond hockey. Christian Grunnah has been my skills and power skating coach for the last six years developing me into the player I am now and continuing to make me better. Jordan Pietrus has hugely impacted me into making me a better man and better hockey player.”

Looking ahead, Salmans has his goals set.

“In the short term, I want to prepare for the upcoming season to make the opening roster,” said Salmans. “Long term, I want to play NCAA Division I hockey and become a physical therapist.”

Photo/Abby Salmans

— Matt Mackinder

(June 7, 2024)

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