Staff

No athlete is a finished project, and no player is built in a day. At OHA, our coaches bring an unparalleled level of expertise to their coaching duties each day. Their tremendous experience as both players and coaches at the Major Junior, College, and Professional levels allows them to build the student athlete in an incremental manner, focusing on the small details that separate elite players from the rest – both on the ice, and off. 

Each athlete brings a unique skillset to the rink, and our coaches work to develop that particular player within the team concept. OHA’s coaches also share an incredible passion not only for player development, but for personal development as well.

scott-may-2019.pngScott May
General Manager

May was at the Delta Hockey Academy from 2013 to 2019 as the Director of Hockey Operations and previously the Director of Business Operations, as well as the Head Coach of their Female Prep team during the 2018-19 season and their Midget Prep team from 2013-2018. Prior to his time at Delta, May played eight seasons of professional hockey in the AHL, ECHL and Europe. He was selected in the seventh round, 222nd overall, by the Toronto Maple Leafs at the 2002 NHL Draft. The White Rock, B.C. product played four seasons of NCAA hockey at the Ohio State University, where he graduated with a degree in Business Operations Management.


heather-perrin-2019.pngHeather Perrin
Assistant General Manager

Perrin completed her Bachelor of Science majoring in Kinesiology at the University of Lethbridge and her Advanced Certificate of Athletic Therapy at Mount Royal College. After becoming a Certified Athletic Therapist, Perrin worked in a variety of sports including CIS Rugby, Junior and Provincial Lacrosse, Judo and Hockey. Perrin started working full time hockey in 2009 and has since been a team therapist in a number of leagues and programs including the JWHL, KIJHL, CSSHL, Team Alberta and Hockey Canada. Joining Hockey Canada in 2010, Perrin has worked at every level with the Canadian National Women’s Hockey Team, most recently serving as Team Therapist for the 2018 Olympic Team that won silver in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Perrin joined the Okanagan Hockey Academy in 2014 as the Manager of Athletic Therapy and Medical Services.


mike-needham-2019.pngMike Needham
Head of Player Development

Needham was the assistant coach of the WHL's Kamloops Blazers from 2014-2018, as well as their skills coach since 2011. Needham played 225 games with the Blazers as a player from 1987 to 1990, before moving onto the professional ranks where he appeared in 100 games in the National Hockey League. Needham played 95 games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, which included capturing the 1992 Stanley Cup, before playing five games with the Dallas Stars.


Untitled_design_4.gifRachel Cunningham
Head of Strength & Conditioning

Rachel Cunningham boasts an impressive resume, with experience in kinesiology and personal training. She has worked in private gyms and physiotherapy clinics, and from 2009-2013, Rachel was part of Okanagan Hockey Camps program. Rachel attended the University of Southern Maine, where she played Varsity Ice Hockey. She brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in fitness, nutrition, and rehabilitation to the OHA team.


mark-fitzgerald.pngBrett Vestby
Head of Operations & Events

Brett has spent the last 10 years working in sports and recreation, including at BC Hockey as Manager of Leagues, assisting with the Male and Female U15, U16, and U18 programs, and with the 2019 World Junior Championships in Vancouver and Victoria. He grew up on Vancouver Island where he played minor and junior hockey while graduating Vancouver Island University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Recreation Management. Brett also previously coached at the AA and AAA levels both in BC and Saskatchewan.


robert-dirk-2019.pngRobert Dirk
Head Coach, U18 Prep

Dirk played nine seasons in the NHL with the Blues, Canucks, Blackhawks, Ducks and Canadiens. He played his junior hockey with the WHL's Regina Pats and was the 53rd overall selection at the 1984 NHL Draft. Dirk is a former head coach at the ECHL, WCHL and UHL level, and also served as the head coach of Team Pacific at the 2010 World Under-17 Challenge.


Cassea-Schols.gifCassea Schols
Head Coach, Female U18 Prep

Schols joined OHA after spending one season as an assistant coach at Grant McEwan University. Schols has served as an assistant coach for Team Alberta on three occasions, winning the gold medal in 2019 at the Canada Winter Games. She was the head coach of the Northern Alberta Xtreme Female U18 Prep team from 2016-2019.

As head coach of the Edmonton Thunder Female Midget AAA team from 2012-2014, she guided the team to back-to-back Alberta Major Midget Female Hockey League championships, as well as a silver medal at the 2014 Esso Cup and a bronze medal in 2013.

Prior to coaching, Schols was a standout defenceman in the NCAA with Mercyhurst University, where she posted 94 points (20-74-94) in 144 career games. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts - Criminal Justice, Concentration Juvenile Justice.


Untitled_design_12.gifJessie Leung
Head Coach, U17 Prep

Leung spent several season in the BCHL – first as an Assistant Coach with the Trail Smoke Eaters and then with the Prince George Spring Kings as an Associate Coach. Prior to his time in the BCHL, Jessie spent 6 years with the Valley West Hawks in the U18 AAA League (Previously BCMML), first as an Associate Coach and then as a Head Coach. In 2016, he coached the Hawks to a league championship. Additionally, Leung has worked for the BC Hockey Program of Excellence as a both a Video Coach and Assistant Coach for the U16 program. As an Assistant Coach, he was part of the Silver Medal team in 2016 at the Western Canada Challenge Cup and in 2015 he served as the video coach for Team BC at the Canada Games. 


Untitled_design_7.gifTsukasa Arinami
Head Coach, U17 Female Prep

Born in Japan, Tsukasa has enjoyed playing youth and junior hockey in Canada and Finland. While playing junior hockey in Finland, Arinami enrolled in the top European Hockey Coaching Program at the Haaga Helia University of Applied Sciences located within the Finnish Olympic Training Centre (Vierumaki).

Upon graduating with Bachelors Degree in Sports Management and top European Hockey Qualification from Vierumaki in 2011, Arinami went on to coach from youth to top female and collegiate programs in Japan and throughout Asia. His additional career highlights include working with female Olympic players from multiple countries, being part of the staff member for the University Men’s Japanese National Team Program and other National projects. He continued his international experience as a coach at the IIHF Development camp in 2008. Arinami has also worked for 2017 NHL Hockey School China, where he travelled to different Chinese cities and ran skills camps as part of NHL’s plan to promote hockey in China. Tsukasa brings a wealth of international experience to OHA, and will also help open doors to recruiting opportunities in the Asian market.


dennis-mckinnon-2019.pngDennis McKinnon
Head Coach, U16 Prep

McKinnon is a former head coach of the BCHL's Trail Smoke Eaters and AJHL's Sherwood Park Crusaders. He has 20 years of experience with BC Hockey's High Performance Program, including the position of head coach of both the Team BC U16 and U17 teams from 2001-2004.


Craig-Bedard.gifCraig Bedard
Head Coach, U15 Prep

A former student athlete and team captain at the NCAA level with the University of Alaska-Fairbanks, Bedard is a former assistant coach with the WHL's Prince Albert Raiders and BCHL's Penticton Vees. He was the head coach of Team Pacific at the 2006 World Under-17 Challenge and the head coach of Team BC at the 2007 Canada Winter Games. 


Untitled_design_15.gifJeff Urekar
Head Coach, U15

Urekar is a former Head Scout and Assistant General Manager & Assistant Coach for the Trail Smoke Eaters of the BCHL. Prior to his time with the Smoke Eaters, Jeff spent 5 years with the Vancouver North East Chiefs in the U18 AAA League (Previously BCMML), holding several roles including Head of Scouting, Associate Coach and Head Coach. Additionally, Urekar has worked for BC Hockey as a regional camp evaluator for their U15 & U16 programs. With the BC Hockey program, he has also served as Head Coach for both the 2017 U15 BC Cup and the 2018 U16 BC Cup teams. Jeff will be on the bench for the upcoming WHL Cup as an assistant coach for the 2021 Team BC U16 Team. 


Untitled_design_9.gifShawn Dineen
Assistant Coach/
Player Evaluation Project Manager

Shawn Dineen joins OHA as Assistant Coach and Player Evaluation Project Manager. Dineen’s hockey career includes playing with the BCHL’s Penticton Vees before attending Denver University, and after graduation going on to play 8 years in the CHL, IHL and AHL.

After serving as Head Coach for the Merritt Centennials, Dineen moved onto pro scouting, responsible for evaluating free agency and trades as well as playoff pre scout. A proud moment in his career was being on staff with the Colorado Avalanche when they won the 1996 Stanley Cup Championship. Dineen has also scouted for the Vancouver Canucks, LA Kings and most recently, the Nashville Predators.

During his playing career, Dineen worked summers as an instructor with Okanagan Hockey Camps in Penticton, eventually becoming responsible for on ice content and staffing. He is excited to be back at Okanagan Hockey Academy working with the student athletes both on and off the ice.


Staff – Mikaela Reay.gifMIKAELA REAY
Assistant Coach

Mikaela played for 4 years (2016-2020) at the University of Lethbridge, earning her Bachelor of Health Science in Addictions Counselling degree. Previous to this, Reay competed in the CSSHL through her high school career. Reay’s coaching experience includes working as an Assistant Coach at the U13 & U15 levels as well as working as an Apprentice Coach at the 2022 Alberta Challenge Cup. Reay looks forward to utilizing her skills with all of the female student-athletes in our program.


Lucas-use-this-one.gifLucas Gore
Goaltending Coach

Gore is currently a goalie coach for the Spokane Chiefs in the WHL. Before that Gore spent time coaching with the WHL’s Kamloops Blazers and BCHL’s Prince George Spruce Kings. Prior to coaching Gore played one season with BCHL’s Vernon Vipers before playing three full seasons with WHL’s Chilliwack Bruins. He moved on to play four years at the university of Regina then finished his playing career with ECHL’s Stockton Thunder.


mike-duco-2019-headshot.jpgMike Duco
Okanagan Hockey Group Skills Development Coach

Duco is also the Skill Development Coach for the Pickering Panthers Jr. A team. Previously, Duco was an assistant coach for the Peterborough Petes of the OHL during the 2017-18 season after serving as a head coach with the ECHL's Elmira Jackals the previous season. On top of his duties with the Petes, he also was involved with the Peterborough Minor Hockey Association as a skills development coach and player evaluator.

The Toronto, Ont. product enjoyed an extensive nine-year professional playing career that saw him play 18 games in the NHL with the Florida Panthers and Vancouver Canucks, 267 games in the AHL, as well as time spent in the ECHL and Europe. Duco played parts of five seasons in the OHL with the Kitchener Rangers, where he was part of the 2008 J. Ross Robertson Cup-winning team as OHL champions.


Untitled_design_17.gifDesiree Koggel
Athletic Therapist

Desiree Koggel graduated with a High Honours Bachelor of Applied Health Sciences in Athletic Therapy from Sheridan College in 2018. Since graduating she has worked in a variety of sports including provincial and semi-professional football, AAA and Jr. A hockey, major series and provincial lacrosse, club and collegiate rugby, field hockey and soccer as well as professional curling. Most recently, Koggel has spent her time in multidisciplinary clinics while working with AAA GTHL and Jr. A hockey teams. In 2019 Koggel was a part of the medical staff for the GTHL Blue, who won the OHL Gold Cup. Koggel is a Certified Athletic Therapist (Canada), Certified Athletic Trainer (U.S.), and a Level 1 Barefoot Training Specialist.


mark-fitzgerald.pngLarissa Gemer
Athletic Therapist

Larissa graduated from the University of British Columbia, School of Kinesiology before moving to Ontario to complete an Honours Bachelors of Applied Heath Sciences in Athletic Therapy from Sheridan College. Gemer began interning with high school hockey and football programs in in Wisconsin in 2008 and has continued working with various sports such as hockey, field hockey, soccer, volleyball, and basketball at levels ranging from youth to university since moving to Canada. She has worked multiple seasons with both UBC’s and Toronto Metropolitan University’s Varsity Hockey teams. Larissa is a Certified Athletic Therapist in Canada and Certified Athletic Trainer in the USA.

Bryce.gifBryce Twible
Sport Science Lead

Twible graduated from the Human Kinetics program at UBC – Okanagan. During his time at UBC, he spent a year as the Assistant Athletic Therapist of the Kelowna Rockets. After graduation, Twible worked in the field of Sport Science performing force and bio-mechanical analysis. He has experience working with a range of athletes in the NHL, CHL and on the Canadian Alpine Ski Team. He is currently working towards completing his Master’s Degree in Sport Science. Twible joined OHA in September 2020.

Untitled_design_5.gifCole Sarafinchan
Strength & Conditioning Coach 

Cole Sarafinchan is a recent graduate of the University of British Columbia Okanagan’s Human Kinetics program, where he specialized in Clinical Exercise Physiology and Psychology.  Cole also enjoyed a long and successful minor hockey career, and looks forward to sharing his extensive knowledge of weight training with the student-athletes at Okanagan Hockey Penticton.


mark-fitzgerald.pngMark Fitzgerald
Human Performance Consultant

Mark Fitzgerald has spent the last 15 years working with athletes from a variety of sports at every level. He began his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs organization and also became the Head of Performance and Nutrition for the Canadian Hockey League. Most recently, Fitzgerald was the Head of Performance for the Anaheim Ducks. Fitzgerald is the founder of Elite Training Systems in Ontario, which has grown to four locations servicing athletes from all major and minor sports. Fitzgerald also serves as a consultant for a number of health and performance organizations including Under Armour, CHL, Ontario Tech University, and Toronto Aeros Rugby.


Gath-Astles.gif

GARTH ASTLES
Residential Life Coordinator 

Astles brings a wealth of experience and knowledge in working with youth and their families, through his work as a social worker with the BC Ministry of Children and Families. In addition, he has a unique understanding of the billet life – both as a host family through his childhood and as a billeted player during his time with the Seattle Breakers in the WHL. Garth feels this position has brought him full circle, back to the game he is most passionate about.


Staff---Dave-Nackoney.gifDAVE NACKONEY
Academic Advisor 

David Nackoney has been part of the Okanagan Hockey Academy since 2003. He has a Bachelor of Education degree and a Masters in Counselling from the University of Brandon Manitoba. Nackoney played university basketball and won two Canadian Championships and was named All Canadian.

Dave’s role includes, but is not limited to: 

  • Course Programming
  • Ensure course work is up to date and done to the best of ability
  • Personal Counselling
  • Keeping students on track with NCAA requirements
  • Working with Post-Secondary Schools

Dr_Connolly_Crop.jpgTrevor Connolly
Team Physician 

Connolly is an emergency physician at Penticton Regional Hospital. He was the recipient of the Resident Research Award in 2003 and the Alice Grant Memorial Award in Family Medicine in June 2002. Connolly obtained his Doctor of Medicine with Great Distinction from the University of Saskatchewan.

Looking for a program you can trust?

We have over 50 years of experience.

Joining Okanagan Hockey Academy was the best decision I made to advance my hockey development. I grew as a person and as a player thanks to our amazing coaches. My education was held to a very high standard by our education advisor and tutors. I also met people who will be lifelong friends."