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Coaching Staff Bios

Rob Potter - Trainer/Coach/Consultant

Rob brings a strong 40 years of gift, talent and expertise in hockey to the Jr. Gamblers coaching staff as player, coach, mentor and trainer.

A Minnesota native, Rob grew up playing in Anoka. As a senior, Potter lead the Tornados historic season to the program’s first ever MN section championship and MN State High School Championship runner up.

After high school, Rob competed for two seasons as a critical member of the USHL’s most dominant team, the St. Paul Vulcan’s, before moving onto NCAA play with the University of Minnesota. With the Gophers, Potter helped lead the program to a WCHA Championship in 1987- 88 and 1988-89 and The Frozen Four in 1988-89, where the Gophers finished runner up in  NCAA National Championship.

Always having a strong desire to share his love for the game, Rob moved into coaching, mentoring and training at a young age alongside legendary hockey coach Herb Brooks. From this wealth of knowledge, Potter helped architect and build championship players, programs and teams at MN high school (Benilde St. Margarets and St. Thomas Academy), NCAA (University of Minnesota Duluth), NHL (San Jose Sharks) and IIHF (Team USA, Team Slovakia and Team Iceland) levels.

Rob, and his spouse, Jenny, continue this same work today, and with added focus on youth hockey, working alongside other NCAA, NHL and IIHF greats to develop the next generation of hockey leadership and champions.

 


Jenny Potter - Coach/Trainer/Consultant

Coach Jenny  Potter brings 26 years of hockey experience to the Jr. Gamblers organization as a player, coach/consultant and administrator.

As a player, Potter remains one of the most highly decorated ice hockey players in US history. She medaled in each of her four Olympic appearances, helping Team USA earn a gold medal in the 1998 Olympic Games, silver medals in 2002 and 2010, and a bronze medal in 2006. In the 2010 Olympics, Potter led Team USA in scoring and became the first Olympic player in history to net hat tricks in back-to-back games. That same year, she also served as Captain of Team USA. In addition to Olympic medals, Potter captained Team USA to World Championship titles earning (6) gold, (9) silver and (1) bronze medals with Team USA in a (14) year international playing career spanning (4) Winter Olympics, (10) World Championships and (2) 4 Nations Cups.  In 2009, she was nominated the Player of the Year for Canada’s Western Women’s Hockey League. 

Potter attended the University of Minnesota-Duluth for three years and the University of Minnesota for one year, earning All-American and Academic All-American status in all four collegiate seasons. In addition, she set both a program record for goals scored with the Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs and NCAA record for goals in a game with six. Potter led the Bulldogs to three, consecutive NCAA National Championship titles, and was the nation’s leading scorer in 1999-00. A two-time Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA) MVP, Potter earned her bachelor’s degree from Minnesota-Duluth in organizational behavior management in 2004. Not surprisingly, Jenny was awarded UMD's Outstanding Female Senior Athlete for 2003-04.

Most recently, Jenny was inducted into the UMD Athletic Hall of Fame as the all-time scoring leader in UMD Bulldog hockey history, earning 256 points (and a record 148 assists) in just 102 games. (1999-2000, 2002-04). She was a two-time finalist for the Patty Kazmaier Award (awarded to the most outstanding player in women’s NCAA I hockey). Jenny Potter still holds UMD season records for points (93), goals (41) and assists (57) and single-game marks for points (nine), goals (six) and assists (nine).

As an coach/consultant, Potter has completed successful head coaching tenures in the MSHSL (MN high school), NCAA (Trinity College and The Ohio State University) and IIHF (USA Hockey/USNDP Program/Team USA, The Slovakian Ice Hockey Federation/Team Slovakia and Ice Hockey Iceland/Team Iceland). 

Potter has extensive public speaking and mentoring experience. She has been profiled by numerous national publications, including the New York Times, Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and People Magazine, and has appeared on talk shows, including the Today Show, the Ellen DeGeneres Show (twice), David Letterman, and several other national and local networks.

Giving back to the game she loves so much continues to be a focus for Potter; training and developing future champions at the youth, NCAA, IIHF/Olympians and NHL level, and as a director for USA Hockey.


Brian Rafalski - Jr Gambler Director of Player Development/U15 Midget & 05 Bantam Major Coach

Coach Brian Rafalski was born in Dearborn, MI and played his youth hockey in the suburbs of Detroit.  After playing for the Madison Capitols of the USHL, Brian starred at the University of Wisconsin from 1991-95.  Having gone undrafted by the NHL, he went to Europe playing with Brynäs IF Gavle of the Swedish League then later in Finland with HPK Hameenlinna and HIFK Helsinki.  In both 1997 and 1999 he was awarded the Pekka Rautakallio Trophy as the best defenseman in the SM-Liiga, and in 1999 won the Kultainen Kypärä Award as the best player in the league.  

Rafalski moved up to the NHL in 1999 after signing with the New Jersey Devils.  In 1999-00 he was named to the NHL All-Rookie team and played in two NHL All-Star Games (2004, 2007).  He has played on three Stanley Cup Champions, with the Devils in 2000 and 2003, and the Red Wings in 2008, while having appeared in a total of five Stanley Cup finals during his 11 year NHL career.  Rafalski is also a three time United States Olympian and most recently been named to the United States Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.  

Since his retirement from professional hockey, Brian has done an outstanding job developing the next generation of elite american hockey players.  His Florida Alliance teams have finished ranked number one in the country for the 2013/2014 and 2014/2015 seasons and have finished ranked third nationally in 2015/2016 and 2016/2017.    In coach Rafalski's first season with the Jr Gamblers in 2017/2018 his 04 Bantam Minor team finished ranked nineteenth nationally (62nd ranking prior to his arrival) and they followed that up with a fourteenth ranking this past season as U14 Bantam Majors. 

Brian and his family reside in Waupaca, WI.

 

Brian Rafalski

Director of Player Development/U15 & Bantam Major Coach


Matt Carey - Bantam Minor Head Coach

Matt Carey was born in Detroit, MI but grew up playing youth hockey for the Fox Valley Blades after moving to Neenah, Wisconsin at the age of 8.  Matt's skill as a defenseman provided him the opportunity to spend two seasons playing Juniors in the NAHL with the Indianapolis Jr. Ice before moving on to UW-Stevens Point for college.  Matt was a standout defenseman for the Pointers all four years at Point.   After college Matt spent two seasons in the UHL with the Quad City Mallards; winning the  Colonial Cup Championship in his rookie season.  Matt Finished his playing career in the Central Hockey League playing for the Macon Whoopie.

Since his playing career ended, Matt has spent time behind the bench as an assistant coach for Merrill, Neenah and Oshkosh High Schools as well as an assistant coach with the Marian University women’s program.  

Matt is in his second year with the Jr Gamblers as the head coach of the 2006 birth year team who place second last season at the CCM World Invite in Nashville.  Prior to last season he coached in the Oshkosh Youth Hockey Association.  During his time in Oshkosh he has coached multiple age groups as well as having spent the last 6 years as the ACE coordinator and the Kohlman Cup Region 3 head coach in 2016 and 2017.  

Matt lives in Oshkosh with his wife Amanda and their two Children Ben 11 and Amelia 7.

Matt Carey

Bantam Minor Head Coach

Phone: 920-379-4605


Ryan Thomas - Hockey Director/Pee Wee Major Head Coach

Coach Ryan Thomas has coached at many different age levels during his career.  While coaching the Appleton United High School team with Don Hearn, he led this co-op team to their first High School State Hockey Tournament appearance in school history.  He has also coached at Neenah High School, Ashwaubenon High School, the Wisconsin Elite League, and the Northeast Wisconsin Jr Gamblers midget minor and midget major levels.  Coach Thomas is currently the assistant coach for Team Wisconsin High Performance – 18’s in the CCM High School NIT and continues to volunteer his time with various camps and clinics at the mite thru High School levels.

Coach Thomas, a native of Minnesota, grew up in Eveleth, MN, home of the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame. Since his early days as a mite player all the way thru high school, he has been coached and surrounded by great hockey players and great hockey minds.

At Eveleth High School, he was captain of his high school team his senior year. For his outstanding leadership and play, he was awarded the prestigious Dan O’Laughlin award (awarded to the most valuable player) and was voted to the all-area hockey team.

After high school, his playing career then took him to the USHL where he competed for two seasons as a member of the Waterloo Black Hawks. Playing two seasons in the best junior league in the U.S. was a tremendous learning experience, again learning from the great coaching he received as well as playing alongside, and against, future NHL players. Coach Thomas also played juniors for the Pikes Peak Miners in the AFHL (currently a member of the NAHL). While on this team, he was named team captain and also played in the league's annual All-Star game.

After juniors, Coach Thomas played four seasons for the University Wisconsin at Eau Claire (NCHA Div. III). At UW-Eau Claire, he received the Wallace G. Akervik (Top Freshmen Award) and the Jeff Jaraczewski (Team MVP Award). He twice received all WIAC honors and twice received all NCHA honors. His senior year he was named captain of the Blugolds by his teammates and coaches.  Coach Thomas' name is still in the top ten in scoring at Eau Claire with 56 goals, 64 assists for 120 points in a 100 games.  He still holds the record for most career shorthanded goals with 9, most goals in a game with 4 and most hat tricks in a season with 3.

Ryan currently resides in Appleton with his wife Llonda, daughter Casdyn and his two boys Ryker and Macalister.

Ryan Thomas

Director of Hockey & Pee Wee Minor Head Coach

Phone: 920-915-6396


Joe Sciborski - Pee Wee Minor Head Coach


Jeff Deanovich - Squirt Head Coach