The Grande Prairie Storm Alumni Association's first event was a big success on Tuesday afternoon.
Former and current coaches and players, former and current board members, a city council member, fans and others took in the Fletcher Mudryk & Co. Coach and Kramer Luncheon at the Holiday Inn.
The event was held to help raise money to get the new alumni group going. Guest speakers were former Storm, and Ottawa Senators, coach Cory Clouston and former Storm captain Darren Kramer, who signed with the Senators this spring.
"It was a fun event," said Storm business manager Don Moon. "It was great to see such a variety of people there, especially those players who played for Cory when he coached the Storm."
Both Clouston and Kramer spoke of the importance of having an alumni association so former players and others involved in the Storm organization can keep in touch. Clouston said he hopes to be back for another alumni event in a couple of years and would like to see the alumni at the event double or better.
They both spoke about how the Storm was a great stepping stone for them as their careers progressed.
Clouston, who coached the Storm from 1995-1999, went on to coach major junior hockey, in the American Hockey League and then to the Senators.
He commented, after watching a video from a Storm practice in 1995, that a lot of the same practice methods he used 17 years ago he continued through his different levels of coaching with a bit of tweaking here and there.
The former Storm mentor also mentioned that, if given the opportunity, he would welcome the chance to coach again in the NHL, even as an assistant coach. He said his move into the NHL came rather quickly after just over a year of pro hockey and that there is always more to learn.
Kramer said he will attend the Senators main camp and is expected to play in some exhibition games, but the team likely has him earmarked to start the season with their farm team in Binghamton. He said his goal, though, is to play for the big team whether it is this year or down the road.
The Peace River native also said his experience with the Storm was invaluable in his progress and that the Storm has one of the best Junior A franchises in Canada and provides everything a young player needs to get to the next level.
"It is certainly a feather in the cap of the Storm organization that a former player like Kramer raves about the organization," said Moon. "It was the same way with Cory when he was talking about the Storm and his experience here. We are proud of them too."
Clouston and Kramer were given membership cards by alumni organizer Devon Wardley as the first official alumni association members.
(Nathan can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org)