Elias learned to play hockey while growing up in Toronto, Canada where he rose through the minor hockey ranks before receiving a Hockey Scholarship to Michigan Technological University. After finishing second in the 1974 NCAA championships Elias went on to enjoy a successful 15 year European professional career including winning the German Division 1 championship with Mannheim ERC. Elias started coaching as a collegian and has helped numerous young players develop their hockey skills before, during and after his professional career. With more than 30 years of coaching experience at all levels, Elias has helped players of all ages to achieve their goals. Elias has been associated with Okanagan Hockey School for more than 11 years.
Raised in British Columbia, Canada, Hicks has been coaching in Europe for over 11 years and currently resides in Austria. From 2001 to 2008 Hicks served as coach and assistant athletic director at Manhattanville College (NCAA Division 3). An Italian/Canadian, he has spent time coaching in Austria, Italy, Germany, and Switzerland. While coaching with the Vipiteno Broncos, he helped lead the club to two Italian Serie A2 Championships and a Coppa di Lega. Hicks has a Bachelor of Arts, Bachelor of Education, and a Master of Arts degree.
Blake Wesley has been part of the Okanagan Hockey Academy Penticton coaching staff since 2004. Prior to joining OHA, he was an assistant coach for three seasons in the Western Hockey League (WHL) with the Tri-City Americans and Portland Winterhawks, and a longtime player in the NHL, recording nearly 300 games played.
“Blake brings a wealth of experience to Okanagan Hockey Europe both as a player in the NHL and as a long-time coach in Canada,” said Hicks. “Blake, as a Hockey Canada High Performance 1 coach, has shown to be a great teacher of the game and a good leader of young athletes.”
As a player, the Red Deer, Alberta, Canada product was selected in the 1st Round of the NHL draft by the Philadelphia Flyers. He spent seven seasons in the NHL with the Flyers, Hartford Whalers, Quebec Nordiques, and Toronto Maple Leafs, playing alongside Hockey Hall of Famers such as Bobby Clarke, Ron Francis, Mark Howe and Peter Stastny.
“Blake is a very unique individual, from someone who toiled for years in the NHL as a defenseman to someone who has reinvented himself into a teacher, mentor and communicator of the game for young individuals striving for greatness,” said Al Coates, former NHL General Manager and current Okanagan Hockey Group Director. “From someone who has now spent over forty years in the NHL, I am appreciative of his many skills and work habits. We are excited for Blake to commence this new role for both him and OHG Austria.”
“After over 15 years with the Okanagan Hockey Group in Penticton, I look forward to the opportunity that awaits in Austria,” said Wesley. “I am excited to bring not only my passion for the game, but all of the knowledge and experiences that I have gained as a coach and player in North America to Okanagan Hockey Europe and I can’t wait to get going.”
Okanagan Hockey Europe is excited to add Greg Holst to the coaching family. The former NHL player with the NY Rangers and long time Austrian Pro and National team player will participate in Academy programs as a guest coach, and mentor coach during the 2020-21 season. As a coach Holst has won a title with VSV in the Austrian top pro league and has spent over 20 years coaching in various professional clubs and with the Austrian national team program.
“The energy level will rise the moment Greg walks onto our OHA campus in St. Pölten, our student-athletes are fortunate to have him as a guest coach and mentor”, comments OHE board member Alex Antonitsch.
Holst has been a long-time colleague and supporter of OHA in Canada and has previously worked closely
with Elias Vorlicek the original Director of Operations at Okanagan Hockey Europe, Blake Wesley Head
Coach OHA Prep and with the current OHA Director of Operations Oly Hicks.
Clint, 37, and his family come to St Polten after spending the past 4 seasons working in professional hockey in Switzerland and Hungary. The Vancouver, Canada native is a Hockey Canada High Performance 1 certified coach who most recently spent the past two seasons as the assistant coach with the Swiss League NLB hockey club La Chaux De Fonds. From 2016 to 2018 Thornton worked in the EBEL (Austrian / Hungarian Pro ) with Fehervar AV19, where he coached both pros and amateurs.
“Clint was a top youth coach in Canada and will be a great addition to the OHA coaching staff“, remarks Oly Hicks, Director of Operations of Okanagan Europe.
Prior to the past 4 seasons in Europe, Clint spent seven years coaching in the Canadian BC Major Midget League (BCMML). Highlighted by the 2012/2013 season, Clint was named BCMML Coach of the Year after a Macs International Tournament Championship, and a provincial title which saw the team reach the Pacific Regionals on the way to a record setting season of 34 wins, 2 losses and 2 ties.
“I am extremely honoured to join the Okanagan organization, and look forward to helping young student-athletes reach the next level in Hockey and Academics” said Thornton.
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.
Natalia comes to Okanagan via the Bachelor program at Sport Institute of Finland in Vierumaki. Natalia specialized in events management while in Finland and was part of the event operations team for the 2019 IIHF World Championships. Natalia works closely with all staff and student-athletes, in particular in operations of home games, tryouts, tournaments, special events and camps.
Over 25 years coaching and playing experience in Germany Austria Czech Italy
John Miner is the speciality coach for the academy’s defensemen as well as a team coach in the academy. John was born in Moose Jaw Saskatchewan, Canada. He played junior hockey with the Regina Pats of the WHL. In his last year of Junior he was a member of Canada’s World Junior National Hockey Team, winning Gold in Finland. John was drafted by the Edmonton Oilers. He played three years of pro with Edmonton and their American League affiliate, the Nova Scotia Oilers. He was with Edmonton when they won the 1988 Stanley Cup. John was traded to the Los Angeles Kings as part of the deal with Wayne Gretzky. John began his European hockey career with IWW-WEV. He played 20 years of professional hockey in Europe. He has played in the Austrian, Swiss, German, French and Danish Elite Leagues. John has won both Swiss and German championships with cologne and Zug respectively. During this time, he played in several International tournaments with Team Canada. John has been named to several All-Star teams while playing in Switzerland and Germany, as well as representing Canada in the Spengler Cup and Globen Tournament. John has completed Levels 1 & 2 to obtain his Canadian National Hockey Certification. John spent two seasons as assistant coach with Sierre of the NLB in Switzerland.
Okanagan Hockey Europe Director of Operations, Oly Hicks, announced today that Jared Wynia has been named the Head Coach of Okanagan Hockey Europe’s U16 Junior Varsity team.
“Jared will bring passion and enthusiasm to the Okanagan Hockey Europe campus,” said Hicks. “He is a young and talented coach that is an excellent communicator. His NCAA background will provide Okanagan Hockey Europe’s student-athletes with another excellent resource.”
Wynia, 29, has been an on-ice instructor for Okanagan Hockey Camps since 2008 and spent the past three seasons with the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton, serving as the head coach of their Midget Varsity team the past two seasons and as an assistant coach in 2017-18.
The Calgary, Alberta product is a Hockey Canada High Performance 1 coach and was the assistant coach of the Alberta Junior Hockey League’s (AJHL) Calgary Mustangs during the 2016-17 season.
“I am extremely grateful and excited for this coaching opportunity in Austria,” said Wynia. “I have had an amazing time in Penticton and I have been fortunate to have been surrounded by an amazing work staff that I got to learn from every day. Thank you to Okanagan Hockey Academy and everybody else who helped me along the way, I’m looking forward to starting this new hockey season in Europe.”
Prior to coaching, Wynia played one season of professional hockey in Germany, after a four-year career as a student athlete at NCAA Fredonia State University New York, (SUNY-Fredonia). Wynia graduated with a Bachelor of Science Degree. was named to the SUNYAC All-Academic team in all 4 consecutive University seasons, as well as receiving the 2012 SUNYAC League Rookie of the Year award.
Wynia played four seasons in the Alberta Junior Hockey League (AJHL) with the Canmore Eagles, Camrose Kodiaks and Calgary Canucks, accumulating 129 points (65-64-129) in 202 games.
Jan, a native of Zvolen, Slovakia, has been developing youth hockey players in Europe since 2008. Played professional hockey in Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia, United Kingdom, and United States for 12 seasons before becoming a coach. He has his B Coaching License from Slovakian Ice Hockey Federation. Vrtik also coaches with the Vienna Tigers youth hockey club and is an instructor at the Okanagan Spring/Summer Camps.
Dillon is from Kenton, Manitoba, Canada. He graduated from the University of Regina with his Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology, majoring in Human Kinetics. Dillon completed the Advanced Athletic Therapy program at Mount Royal University, is a Certified Athletic Therapist and is a Certified Strength and Conditioning coach.
Prior to arriving at the OHA Dillon was working in Calgary, Canada as both a therapist and strength coach with a variety of sport teams, including; hockey, football, rugby, pro rodeo and lacrosse. In Dillon’s spare time he enjoys playing hockey, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting and helping his parents and brother out on the family farm back in Manitoba.
Christoph is an Athletic Trainer and Physio-Therapist for the Academy. His experience as a high level professional soccer player and his interest in the functioning of the human body lead him to study physiotherapy and sports science at the University of Vienna after his career as a player. Since 2011 he has been working as a conditioning coach and Physio-Therapist at the national academy of women soccer in St.Pölten. Christoph is now looking forward to the work as an athletic trainer and Physio-Therapist at OHA Europe which gives him the unique possibility to also support young hockey players in reaching their goals.
Michaela was born 1973 in Horn, Lower Austria. After finishing her nurse´s training school in 1996 she earned her medical degree on the University of Vienna in 2004. 2007 Michaela started her education as a resident for Trauma Surgery and Sports Traumatolgy at the general hospital in St. Pölten. Additionally she acquired her degree for sports medicine.
Michaela is offering her medical attendance for our players in school and the Academy as well as she can guarantee an optimal supply in general hospital of St. Pölten or her private ordination with „Ärzte im Zentrum“.
The last years Michaela took care of projekts like „climb high“, which supports children between 10 to 14 in their physical development and is the medical support for SKN – Juniors, the St. Pölten soccerteam.
In her leisure time Michaela likes skiing, ski touring, gym, running, music and watching international sports events.
Gee, a resident of St.Polten, is managing the Hockey Camp Division at Okanagan Hockey Europe. He has a long career in the business of managing and promoting events. Since 1999 Gee has been working as a global concert promoter and event manager for some of the biggest names in the music industry. Being a long time hockey supporter, Gee is also a coach with the Okanagan St.Pölten Tigers, the youth hockey division of Okanagan Hockey Europe.
Timo Gless is The OHA’s newest assistant coach. Timo is a native of Cologne, Germany, and an Okanagan Hockey Academy Alum. Timo completed 4 years with the OHA and graduated in 2016. Since graduating from the Academy, Timo has been playing professional hockey in Germany.