Storm Wahlrab is a 6’ 3” – 210 pound native of Laguna Niguel, CA and the newest member of the Lone Star Brahmas’ roster. Wahlrab who turns 21 on February 16th has seen his hockey career take him from Southern California, to the Texas Gulf Coast, Washington State, Western Pennsylvania, back to Southern California and Springfield Illinois before he found a home in British Columbia with the Victoria Grizzlies of the BCHL.
His many stops along the way may lead some to look at Wahlrab as a journeyman until they look a little deeper. Starting as a defenseman with the California Titans U16 team in the NAPHL he impressed NAHL scouts. During the 2010-11 season the Corpus Christi Icerays brought Storm in as an affiliate player. He played three games with the Icerays and was the youngest player by far to crack an NAHL South Division roster that season. Following the season, the Wenatchee Wild selected Wahlrab in the fourth round of the 2011 NAHL Entry Draft. That summer he was selected to the USA Hockey Select 17 Player Development Camp.
The 2011-12 season started with Wahlrab suiting up for the Wild in the NAHL West before being released. Storm landed in Pittsburgh with the Hornets of the T1EHL where he made the move to forward.
2012-13 found Wahlrab back in Southern California with the T1EHL LA Junior Kings. He also had a cup of coffee with the Springfield Jr Blues of the NAHL. Bill Bestwick GM and Head Coach of the BCHL Victoria Grizzlies attended a summer tournament in Las Vegas where he saw Wahlrab play.
“I went and saw him at a showcase in late June,” said Bestwick. “Liked what I saw, liked who I met, his personality and his other intangibles. He has size, he can skate and he can do a lot of things well.” After bringing Wahlrab to Victoria for training camp Bestwick was even more impressed with what he saw. “Storm is a physical presence and in my opinion has the potential to be a major contributor to the Grizzlies with his skill and finesse combined with a hard-nosed attitude. Storm has great hands and is very versatile as a player on both sides of the puck. We will need his physicality and net presence.”
That first season in Victoria Wahlrab put up 10G – 10A in 53 regular season games and 2G- 1A in 16 playoff games. Going into the BCHL playoffs OverTheBoards.net had the following scouting report naming Storm one of the players to watch in the post season. “Plays an old school game, which is much appreciated by the rest of the team. Hits hard and can use his size to crash the net and score goals, isn’t afraid to mix it up and play against top lines and get under the opponent’s skin.”
This season Victoria started with a new management, a new head coach and a new scheme. Storm put up four points in 20 games and was released at the BCHL trade deadline after the Grizzlies’ roster moves put them over the league limit of six 1994 born players.
Wahlrab prospered in Canada and elevated his game. ”I loved being in Canada where hockey is engrained in the culture,” he said. “Victoria was not only a beautiful city, but had amazing hockey. I loved every minute I spent there. It developed my entire playing style by pushing me to improve every day.”
With his release in hand Wahlrab and the Lone Star Brahmas found that they were a good fit for each other. Storm was looking for an organization where he could receive some exposure in his quest for an NCAA D-I scholarship and the Brahmas could use a versatile, talented player who can play up front or on the back end. Being able to play forward or defense, Wahlrab offers head coach Dan Wildfong some flexibility with the lineup he puts on the ice each night. “Ever since I was little I always switched,” Wahlrab said. “I honestly love both positions equally. I love scoring and the forecheck on offense, but I love to step up in open ice and make good first passes out of the zone.”
He likes to consider himself a kind of hybrid of Milan Lucic and Jaromir Jagr. I like the hard-nose forecheck and hitting guys all over the ice,” he said. “I want to make the opposing team’s defense afraid to handle the puck. I feel like my size and strength lead to the tough hockey player which I like being, but I also have hands and vision that when there is time I like to use.”
Residing in Southern California, Storm’s father Rick became an LA Kings fan when Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky was traded there by the Edmonton Oilers. “He threw me on the ice at age two,” Wahlrab said of his father. “I’ve loved it ever since then.” While Teemu Selanne is Storm’s favorite hockey player, he finds his guidance and leadership from his father. “My dad has always been the man I look up to in life.”
Having developed through the LA area youth leagues, Storm was familiar with current Brahmas teammate Liam Stirtzinger. “Liam and I played against each other in 18u, said Wahlrab. “He and I always battled against each other, and frankly we didn’t really like each other.” Now that they are teammates he looks at things a bit differently. “Coming here he and I have really clicked and we look at the past and some funny times.”
A new friend is not the only thing that he has found since arriving in North Texas. “It’s a great atmosphere,” he said of the Lone Star organization. “There are so many things around the rink like Chipotle and In-N-Out that most hockey teams don’t have. The hockey of course is fast paced and tough. I really enjoy it here.”
Besides his quest for a D-I commitment, Wahlrab has set one more goal for this season. “A championship my last year would be a dream,” he said. To that end, Storm wants to give something back to the fans that support the team as well. “I want them to know that I will always bring action and intensity to the game. Hopefully they like me on their side and what I can bring to the Brahmas.”
With one point, a +2 rating and some big hits in two games played with the Brahmas, it looks like Storm Wahlrab is well on his way to seeing his goals fulfilled.