Posted 2 years 110 days ago ago by David Fine
Former Storm Captain reflects on time in Nebraska
David Fine/Kearney, Neb. – There’s so much to be excited about for Colorado Eagles forward Kenny Brooks. It’s an afternoon off before a weekend home set against South Carolina and springtime is coming to the Rocky Mountains. Did we mention the Eagles were riding a franchise-best 16-game winning streak?
“Coming to the rink every day is pretty easy when you’re winning every night,” says Brooks. “You come to practice in the morning and everyone is in a good mood.”
Listen to Brooks talk about his time in Colorado, Penn State and Kearney
Brooks was in the lineup for 16 of the wins (South Carolina halted the streak at 17 on March 4) and the club has lost just once since January 22. He won his first seven Eagles games. Since making his Colorado debut in December against Idaho, Brooks has missed just one contest and the ECHL-best Eagles are 29-9-0-0. The 25-year-old has six goals and 12 points in 37 games.
Don’t forget about practices; there’s fewer skates here than he had with the Storm! The Eagles often play three games a week, leaving time for only one or two skates.
“It’s nice. When you get off practice, you do things to make yourself better,” says Brooks. “It’s not as much of a grind. At Penn State and in Tri-City, you practice all week long than have your games on the weekend. Here, you [often] play Wednesday, then Friday and Saturday, then get a practice before the next Wednesday. It’s nice to have stuff to do outside here [in Loveland, Colorado].”
It wasn’t all rosy for the former Storm Captain just a few months ago.
From ATL to Colorado
Brooks attended training camp with Providence and Atlanta, affiliates of the NHL’s Boston Bruins. In November, he was released from the ECHL’s Atlanta Gladiators a week after making his professional debut.
“It’s a little bit of an eye opener. It shows you there’s not much job security and you have to work as hard as you can. It showed me how many good players are in this league.”
Without another immediate opportunity, Brooks went home to Las Vegas, Nevada and kept on working. One month passed and, “Colorado needed a player.”
The smile returns in his voice when talking about his first “real” professional stay.
“I didn’t even have to say anything,” he recalls. “As soon as they called I’m coming. I thought [the elevation] would be a little worse. The first few skates, you feel it. After the first week or two you’re used to it. You come in the locker room and the guys let you know what’s correct. I learn from the older guys.”
Making an impact
Brooks played with the Storm from 2009-12. Kenny’s father, Mr. Kirk Brooks, purchased the Storm in 2009. In Kenny’s first season, he billeted with Dave and Shari Jorgensen and lived with future NHL star Jaden Schwartz. Kenny keeps in touch with Dave, Shari and Jaden. Over three seasons, Kenny became one of the franchise’s all-time fan favorites.
There’s a sense among many Tri-City diehards that he was part of the first “generation” that built to the Storm’s first Clark Cup in 2016. In his final season, he wore the “C” and led, among others, Nick Lappin (New Jersey Devils), Trevor Moore (AHL’s Toronto Marlies) and Mike Vecchione (Hobey Baker frontrunner with Union) and Brian Ward (ECHL’s Adirondack Thunder).
In an interview a year ago, Ward said he learned the ropes from Brooks. Ward succeeded Brooks as Captain in 2012-13. Tory Dello, then 15 years old, played three games under Ward’s influence. Three years later, Dello captained the Storm to the Clark Cup. The cycle continues…
“The age  I came in, I was a boy,” says Brooks. “I think I left somewhat of a man there. I’ve heard that from a few guys. If I could be back in Tri-City playing the rest of my life, I’d be right there.”
Upon “graduating” to manhood in Tri-City, he ascended to Penn State University’s team when some club players still comprised the squad. In 2013-14, the school joined the newly-formed Big Ten Hockey Conference. This season, Penn State achieved its first number 1 ranking in the polls. Sense a theme? Guide, influence and move on. Rinse and repeat.
Throughout it all, his father has been there.
“He’s a big part of my life and career. He comes out to watch a game once a month. I talk to him on the phone quite a bit. Now that I’m a little bit older, hockey-wise, he just lets me play. When I was in Tri-City, I was younger and still learning the game, he helped in a different way.”
There’s so much for this 25-year-old to be excited in his first professional season. Brooks’ hockey life has been about making an impact and leaving it a better place than where he started. It’s a treat to hear from a young man that continues to show great appreciation to the people that have helped him there along the way.