Vegas youth footprint changes with Storm-Flames merger
The term “March Madness” took on a whole new positive meaning in Las Vegas recently.
The Las Vegas Flames youth organization is now no more, but no worries as the program has successfully merged with the established Nevada Storm program, which is adding a 16U Tier I component to the organization in 2016-17.
Everyone involved feels the merger will show how two organizations can come together to form one organization that will benefit from two facilities (Las Vegas Ice Center, Sobe Ice Arena) as they work together to take youth hockey in the Valley to new levels of cooperation and development.
The youth organizations will join and will play under the Storm name, practice, play games and host tournaments at both the Las Vegas Ice Center (LVIC) and the Sobe Ice Arena.
In March, Flames president Bill Calhoun and Sobe Ice Arena director Wally Lacroix met with the Storm’s Gabe Gauthier, John Brooks and Kirk Brooks and discussed how to make Las Vegas hockey grow and improve the development and education of the kids. The obvious answer was to merge the two organizations into one for the benefit of the kids.
“The opportunity to merge was the best decision for all the children here in Las Vegas,” said Calhoun. “I am so grateful that I was able to work with John, Gabe and the Nevada Storm to make hockey stronger today than it was yesterday. The two facilities will be home to the all players and there will be games, practices, skills sessions and coaching under the common goal of building champions on and off the ice with a coaching staff that rivals the best in the nation.”
John Brooks, co-owner of the Storm and the Las Vegas Ice Center, is eager to start the transition immediately.
“I really look forward to the opportunity to work with Bill, Wally and the excellent coaches that the Flames bring and to take the Las Vegas hockey community in a single positive direction,” said Brooks.
There once was a time where Las Vegas had strong, competitive hockey that contended nationally under multiple organizations and now those players are either playing professional or collegiate hockey. In order to get back to this level, the organizations believe the right decision is to play as one organization. This will allow more players to play on the team most appropriate for their skills, get on the ice for more practices, work together for a common goal and most importantly, avoid the dissention that has truly been the enemy of youth hockey over the past few years.
Gauthier, who serves as the Storm and LVIC hockey director, is right there with Brooks about the new direction.
“I have seen youth hockey take many positive steps since I moved to Las Vegas two years ago and now I really feel like bringing it all together is the next logical step to put Las Vegas hockey on the national map,” said Gauthier. “With the junior team in the Western States Hockey League and the Tier I Midget team this fall, we now will offer Las Vegas youth unprecedented opportunities to develop as young players and leaders without leaving home.”
In addition, Gauthier will be looking to continue the Las Vegas High School Hockey League to form a team and participate in the Anaheim Ducks High School Hockey League.
The coaches for the 2016-17 season are Brian Fox and Jim Nyznyk (Mite Track 1 & 2), Scott Rensmon and Jeff Bruckner (Squirt B), Bo Lackas (Squirt A), Dell Truax (Pee Wee A), Bruckner (Pee Wee AA), Evan and Adam Zucker (Bantam A), Eric Lacroix (Bantam AA), Wally Lacroix (16U AA), Micah Sanford (16U AAA) and Gauthier (junior).
— Matt Mackinder