And now there are two!
Carter Rowney, born in Grande Prairie and raised in the Sexsmith area, on Tuesday became the second former Grande Prairie Storm player to play in a National Hockey League game when he stepped on the ice in the first period of a game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Nashville Predators in the PPG Paints Arena in Pittsburgh.
Wearing No. 37 for the Penquins, Rowney took a regular shift playing between Carl Hagelin and Bryan Rust.
“I don't know if I did shake off the nerves,” Rowney said after the game when asked if he was nervous going into the game. “It was a great moment for me and my family. I'm just trying to take it all in.”
Rowney, was on the ice for 9:24 over the 60 minutes in Pittsburgh`s 4-2 win and besides five-on-five play also saw some ice time on the Penguin penalty kill.
He had originally been called up from the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the American Hockey League last week, but didn`t get into the lineup in a game against the Boston Bruins. He has 10 goals and 11 assists in 26 games with the AHL team so far this year.
“It`s a little different then the AHL,“ Rowney said of the NHL. “Everyone is a bit stronger and faster.“
After watching the Penguins-Bruins game from the sidelines, Rowney returned to the Baby Penguins helping them to two wins.
He was among the hottest players on the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton roster headed into the AHL All-Star break on the weekend. After missing about a month and a half due to injury, Rowney returned to the Pens lineup on January 13 in Rochester. He recorded eight points (5+3) during the next eight games, and posted a four-game goal streak from January 13-18, a career best for the 27-year old centre.
It has been a long road to the NHL for the former Alberta Junior Hockey League 2008-2009 playoff MVP.
The Sexsmith native played three full seasons for the Junior A Storm finishing his career off with an AJHL championship and in the spring of 2009. He was also the AHL Penguins team MVP last season.
He started his minor hockey in Sexsmith and then played with the Bantam AAA Storm and the Midget AAA Storm before moving onto the Junior A Storm.
After graduating from the junior Storm he spent four seasons in NCAA Division I hockey with the University of North Dakota Fighting Sioux. His first pro game was with the AHL Abbotsford Heat in 2013. He then moved to Wilkes-Barre/Scranton and also spent time with their farm team – the Wheeling Nailers in the East Coast Hockey League.
“It is something you strive for your whole career,“ said Rowney of making it to the NHL, where his parents and brother got to see his debut live. “This is something you want to build on. I think it is going to make me even more hungry.“
For the record, on Tuesday he was minus-one, had no penalties, no shots on goal, had two hits, didn`t give the puck away and had one takeaway and was 30 per cent on draws.
The other former Storm player to see NHL action was Grant Stevenson, a native of Spruce Grove he played one year with the team.
He played with the Storm during the 2000-2001 season, received a scholarship at Minnesota State U – Mankato where he played for two seasons before signing with the San Jose Sharks of the NHL. He played in the AHL and ECHL before being called up to the Sharks in 2005-2006 appearing in 47 NHL games with 10 goals and 12 assists.
He signed with the Atlanta Thrashers and then the Calgary Flames, but never played another NHL game after his stint with the Sharks.
Stevenson ended his pro career playing in Europe.
The Penguins have not yet announced how long Rowney will remain with the NHL team, which has a game at home against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday.