The Grande Prairie Storm is celebrating its 26th anniversary in the Alberta Junior Hockey League and 27th overall in 2021-2022, but junior hockey in the city stretches back over 40 years. The first junior team, formed in 1966, was named the Junior Athletics and played in the Peace Junior Hockey League. The team then became the North Stars and won several PJHL championships at the Junior B level and Peace Cariboo Junior Hockey League titles as a Junior A team. When Grande Prairie joined the Rocky Mountain Junior Hockey League, the name was changed to the Chiefs.
In the summer of 1995, fresh off the experience of hosting the 1995 Canada Winter Games, a group of local community-minded people – the Storm Founders - banded together to help the struggling junior franchise eliminate a debt and get Junior A hockey back on track in the Peace Country. The debt was eliminated and a new community, non-profit, volunteer-driven organization called the Storm, flying under the Swan City Hockey Association banner, was formed.
Success both on and off the ice has been the tradition of the Storm since 1995. The team won the RMJHL league championship its first year and have also represented Grande Prairie in six final four appearances, capped by winning the AJHL championship in the 2003-04 and 2008-09 seasons. Since joining the AJHL in 1996, The Storm have the second-most wins of any team and owns every modern-day AJHL attendance record. In 2004 the team hosted the Royal Bank Cup Junior A Canadian championship where the team finished as the top team in the round-robin and ended up hosting the most successful RBC ever. The Grande Prairie event smashed the old Royal Bank Cup attendance record by over 9,000 and still holds the per-game average attendance record at over 2,700.
During the Storm short history, the team has had two AJHL Rookie of the Year (Blaine Bablitz 1998 & Zachary Okabe 2018), three Most Valuable Players (Mike Lefley in 2002, Dustin Sather in 2007 & Tanner Fritz in 2011), three Top Goaltenders (Jonathan Cayer in 2004, Chad Carder 2009 & Nick Kulmanovsky 2013), two Most Outstanding Defencemen (Kyle Radke in 2004 and Donny Lloyd in 2007) and two AJHL Playoff MVPs (Scott McCulloch in 2004 and Carter Rowney in 2009). McCulloch was also the first Storm player drafted directly into the NHL by the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2004 draft. The second former Storm to be drafted into the NHL was Darren Kramer, who was selected by the Ottawa Senators in the sixth round in the spring of 2011. Grant Stevenson was the first Storm player to play in an NHL regular season game when he suited up for the last half of the regular season and the playoffs with the San Jose Sharks in 2005-2006.
Since the team was formed in 1995, dozens of former Storm players have received scholarship funding to continue their educations at Canadian or American universities and colleges.
“The Grande Prairie Storm Hockey Club exists to develop a quality junior hockey team made up of dedicated and talented hockey players who want to work together with the community, volunteers and administration. We constantly look for ways to improve our organization and are proud to be an integral part of the Grande Prairie region. We encourage educational advancement and strive to achieve the highest possible results in pursuit of a National Championship"
In September of 2006 the Grande Prairie Storm, along with the Grande Prairie Burn Society and the Sunrise Rotary Club, hosted the Edmonton Oilers training camp. It was the first time ever the NHL team had moved its camp totally out of the Edmonton area and it was a huge success. The camp continued a long relationship the Storm has had with the Oilers, including having the Oilers take part in an annual golf tournament in Grande Prairie.
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