This upcoming season, the Manchester Storm family will be even bigger. After extensive talks, the Trafford Tornados will become the Manchester Storm Academy for the 2017/18 season. This means that from September there will be a full junior development system wearing Storm colours.
For the first time in the Storm’s history, there will be a direct route from kids learning to play hockey at Silverblades Altrincham right the way through to the Elite League.
Storm Head Coach, Ryan Finnerty is very excited at the news, and went on to say:
“This is a really important step for us, we want to have kids from Manchester playing at a club where we can monitor their development with the aim to one day see them in the Storm lineup. We have a lot of knowledge and experience in the hockey world and we want to offer as much support to the junior players and the junior coaches as we can.” Said Storm Head Coach Ryan Finnerty.
Former Great Britain defenceman Mark Thomas will work with both clubs to ensure the best talent is identified. “It is always going to be tough for young British players to get the ice time and development opportunities they need to reach the top level. One of the key things is about identifying talent early and then tapping into the Storm’s knowledge and coaching staff to take them to the next level.
“My role will be to speak to Ryan about where the players are at and help him decide when it’s time to integrate them into the Storm senior team. Of course it will take some time for us start a production line, but I am really excited at the talent we have in the club right now.”
Last season the Trafford Tornados had 76 junior players ranging from 6-18 years of age and they had some success on the ice. The U11’s won the EIHA Northern Conference and had five players feature for the North of England and three players represent England in a select side against Scotland.
Former Manchester Storm winger Nick Crawley is the head coach of the Academy:
“This is a great move for us as a club. The junior section has stabilised over recent years and we are starting to see our membership increase again, which is what we need.
“For me I remain very proud to have come through the system in Manchester and then gone on to play for the Storm. Now I look at some of the kids on our teams and we are working very hard with them to get to that level. We have a great group of coaches and knowing we will be able to get the support of Ryan and the rest of the Storm organisation will be a great help”
Finnerty had his first taste of junior hockey in Manchester on Saturday, when he put on a skills session with Crawley and Thomas ahead of an U11s 3-on-3 tournament.
“There are some good kids out on the ice and I was impressed with what I saw, but our job now is to work to make sure they are getting the kind of coaching on and off the ice that their peers in North America or elsewhere in Europe do.”
This is an exciting new chapter for the Manchester Storm and the Manchester Storm Academy. Both parties are looking forward to working together to make the Great Britain and Elite League players of the future.