The Grande Prairie Storm of the Alberta Junior Hockey League are proud to announce the signing of Peace Region products Lars Kaliel and Zachary Cunningham.
Cunningham is coming off an impressive season offensively where the '01-born defensemen put up 4 goals and 15 points in 35 regular season games while adding another 2 pts in 5 games at the CSSHL (Canadian Sports School Hockey League) Championships. Cunningham was influential in helping the Northern Alberta Extreme capture their 2nd CSSHL Championship title. He saw action in the AJHL last season as an affiliate player with the Drayton Valley Thunder where the then 16-year-old tallied 1 goal and 1 assists in 6 games.
Coach Keillor says Cunningham displays the characteristics that the new type of defensemen has to have:
“Skating and puck movement, that’s the name of the game. You look at the successful teams at every level, they all have defensemen that can skate the puck and move the puck at full speed. Zac is an exceptional east/west skater and his escapability and puck skills make him an offensive threat. I see a high ceiling with Zac and I think working with coach Blake who was an offensive skilled defenseman himself will be a good fit. We had trouble providing offense from our blueline last season. I think a guy like Tyrell Boucher is primed to lead the way this year and will be a great mentor for Zach”.
Kaliel will make the transition from the GPAC Midget AAA Storm to the Jr. A club. Lars was among top goaltenders in the Alberta Midget Hockey League the entire season, and posted a 3.25 GAA and a .913 SAV%. Lars was an affiliate with the Storm last season, and he got his first start in the AJHL on the final regular season game of the year. Against the Lloydminster Bobcats, Lars guided the Storm to a decisive 5-1 win in front of a packed hometown crowd.
Keillor says he sees a lot of similarities in Lars to another talented AJHL goalie:
“I see a lot of Logan Drackett with Lars, he’s a jokester, a 1st class teammate and he battles”. That’s high praise for the 17-year-old as Logan Drackett was an All-Star Goaltender for 2 seasons with the Calgary Canucks essentially single handedly helping turn the Calgary franchise into a contender overnight before accepting a D1 scholarship with Rochester Institute of Technology. “They’re the type of guys you want, and its 100% their personality. They have a smile on their face when the come to the rink and they will do whatever is asked of them. Lars is a beast in the gym and his athleticism is high end. Mitch Paradis our goaltending coach has kept a close eye on his development and speaks very highly of his character and ability. Lars is a young man but has maturity in his game, there’s no doubt he will push his partner to own the net”.
Both Cunningham and Kaliel are graduates of the Grande Prairie Minor Hockey system. Fans will get the opportunity to see both in action when the Storm hit the ice for Main Camp in late August. The Storm will host 2 preseason games at Revolution place; first up is the defending AJHL Champion Spruce Grove Saints Thursday Aug 30th at 7pm followed by the Whitecourt Wolverines on Friday Sept 7th at 7:30pm. Stop by Revolution Place today to secure your season ticket!
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