After playing for the St. Cloud State Huskies for four years and gaining some short but valuable experience with the San Antonio Rampage, Ben Storm has officially started his professional hockey career as a member of the 2017 Kelly Cup winning Colorado Eagles.
It’s been a perfect start for Storm, whose Eagles have four wins in four games. Storm, a defenseman originally from Laurium, Mich. has two assists on the young season.
Naturally, when exiting a college and beginning a career in the professional ranks, there has to be a few changes that players will have to go through. This is no different for Storm.
“In college, you are playing against 18- and 19-year-olds, and then in the pros, you are playing against 20- to 35-year-old guys, who are larger, stronger, and faster. You have to make quicker plays in the pro leagues, and just really have to keep your head up to be successful,” the 23-year-old said.
Drafted by the Colorado Avalanche in the sixth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft with the 153rd pick, the young defenseman has been given plenty time to develop his skill set within the NCAA with St. Cloud State University.
“Going back [about five or six years ago] it was definitely a dream come true for me, coming from such a small town in Michigan. It was everything I ever dreamed of as a kid, and to be drafted by an organization like the Avalanche was incredible,” Storm said.
After his time with the Huskies, Storm gained some valuable experience by joining the San Antonio Rampage in the AHL. Although he skated in just seven games, jumping into a spot with the Rampage allowed Storm to get a taste of what the NHL type of game will be — giving him an idea as to what he can work on during his time in the ECHL.
“Here [in the ECHL] there are a lot less lines, so you get a lot more ice time, and that is a huge difference for me. You have to be in better shape to play in this league when rolling defensive lines. I have enjoyed my time with the Eagles so far, and I look forward to the rest of the season here.”
When it comes to development prior to the major jump up to the NHL, having an AHL affiliate in the same state as the NHL counterparts is rare. Starting next season, the Colorado Eagles will move up to the AHL, becoming the top affiliate of the Colorado Avalanche, and being their main supplier of talent.
Allowing the players to develop with the Colorado Eagles and then make the jump up to the Avalanche will also allow players to adjust to the elevation change — a problem that has been noted by the change of traveling between San Antonio and Denver.
“I think the promotion is great. With the fan base [the Eagles] have here, I think that the AHL system will really gain a lot of support from these fans and this community. I think it is great for the organization and that the guys will really enjoy it.” Storm said.
Heading into a brand new league can prove to be a challenge, but it would appear as if Storm is aware of these new set of obstacles, and is prepared to face them head-on.
Featured Image Credit: Standout Imagery