skip navigation

2022-23 Season Head Coaches Bios

Director of Hockey Tony Lessel

Born and raised in St. Louis, MO  Tony enters his sixth season as Director of Hockey for the Jr. Everblades and the eighth year for Hertz Arena. Tony played youth hockey with the Chesterfield Falcons leading to tier 1 for the Jr. Blues and attending Chaminade College Prep. in St. Louis.

Since arriving in Florida in 2008 with a degree in Sport Management, Tony began working with the Florida Panthers in an entry-level sales position. From there he worked his way through the organization.  Within a couple of years, he was running the youth and adult travel/recreation programs out of Panthers Ice Den. Now with the Hertz Arena and the Jr. Everblades, Tony has grown both programs year after year with an emphasis on structure, development, and fun!

A USA Hockey Level 4 coach, Tony has coached numerous state championship teams of all levels over the years and worked with USA Hockey’s player development camps locally. He prides himself on development at the grassroots levels to ensure the stability of this great game in Florida for the future and has been recognized numerous times by USA Hockey for such achievements. Tony looks forward to raising many more championship banners once again this year for the Jr. Everblades.

Goalie Development Coach Mike Buckley

The Junior Everblades announce the hiring of Goaltending Development Coach Mike Buckley and the GDS Elite Development Program.  

A two-time Stanley Cup Champion, Mike has developed over 40 division 1 college goaltenders, 17 professional goalies, and 6 NHL draft picks. During Buckley’s eight seasons with the Pittsburgh Penguins, he amassed two Stanley Cups and mentored four AHL All-Stars and two AHL rookie of the year award recipients. 

Along with Coach Buckley, Steve Mastalerz will be working with Junior Everblades goalies. Mastalerz, a North Andover, MA native, played collegiately at UMass-Amherst before playing professionally. He is the Vice President of GDS and head instructor.

The GDS Elite program was designed to give goalies the best individual training curriculum for elite organizations. A GDS Elite program has been designed for Junior Everblades goaltenders, utilizing the same formula and structure Mike Buckley uses to develop the area’s top youth, NHL, and collegiate goalies. GDS Elite is designed to bridge the gap between parents, coaches, and goalies to promote long-term success within the Junior Everblades organization.  It will provide coaches and parents with educational tools to get the most out of their development. Buckley’s coaching model involves a systematic approach to positioning and play reading with a significant emphasis on the mental game. Each goaltender will be coached to their strengths and weaknesses, not a cookie-cutter approach.

8U Minor Head Coach Craig Kowlaski

8U Major Head Coach Ryan Vesce

Ryan joins the Jr. Everblades organization after a long and successful collegiate and pro career.  Ryan graduated from Cornell University in 2004 and went on to play for 14 years professionally across the NHL, KHL(Russia), AHL, SHL(Sweden), Liiga(Finland), and Switzerland’s NLA and Swiss League.  

Ryan is committed to improving each player and is looking forward to developing their hockey skills, work ethic, discipline, and leadership qualities. 

 

8U Major Head Coach Matthew Spiller

Matthew grew up in the small farming town of Daysland Alberta Canada. He played his youth hockey in his hometown until 16 years old and then moved onto the WHL for the Seattle Thunderbirds. He was drafted during his WHL career by the Coyotes. After the WHL he turned pro where he played 395 games in the American Hockey League and 68 games in the NHL with the Phoenix Coyotes and New York Islanders. Coach Spiller had a short stint in the Czech Republic before coming back to North America to finish his hockey career. 

Matthew currently lives in Estero Florida with his wife Megan, daughter Julia (10), and son Jacob (8).  Currently, he is a firefighter at SWFL International Airport. He loves coaching youth hockey and giving back to the game when he can. 

10U A Head Coach Austin Petersen

Coach Austin is originally from Los Angeles, California, and has been a part of the Junior Everblades organization for more than ten years.  A graduate of FGCU with a BA in Psychology, Austin is currently working towards his Master's degree in Clinical Psychology.

Austin played for the Junior Everblades in the 12U through 18U divisions, was selected for the USA Atlantic Developmental Team, and was a defenseman for Florida Gulf Coast University. 

Currently, a USA Hockey Level 4 coach, Coach Austin has coached the Junior Everblades for the past six seasons and has been a skating coach with the Hertz Arena Learn to Skate program for the past eight years.  His coaching accomplishments include numerous tournament championships, including the SAHOF State 12U A Championship, and  SAHOF State 10A Silver State Championship. 

Austin's coaching philosophy focuses heavily on, creativity, character development, and leadership skills. 

 

10U A Head Coach Ernie Hartlieb

Coach Ernie's interest in athletic performance development stems from his extensive career competing in ice hockey.  After a life-threatening hockey injury suffered at 18 years of age with a prognosis that he may never be able to play the game again, his passion for hockey and his desire to succeed expectations fueled his rehabilitation and lead him to become an all-rounded athlete who has garnered respect from coaches and players on all levels.

During his four years of collegiate play for the Miami OH Redhawks (CCHA), he received the Terry Flannagan Humanitarian Award recognizing Ernie's strong character and leadership skills both on and off of the ice.

Having played over a decade in the ECHL including four seasons playing at the AHL level (Worcester IceCats, Grand Rapids Griffins, Lowell Lock Monsters, and Rochester Americans), his eight seasons with the Florida Everblades culminated in the team Captain having his iconic #9 jersey retired.

Coach Ernie's leadership, motivational skills, training skills, and exceptional training ethics bring exciting elements to the Junior Everblades organization.

10U AA Head Coach Charlie Linglet

Coach Linglet concluded his 17th professional playing career in 2020.  He has gathered valued experience by playing in some of the strongest leagues in the world (NHL, AHL, KHL to name a few) while having the chance to learn from many experienced coaches along the way.

He begins his 2nd year of coaching with the Junior Everblades.  Coach Linglet is proud to return to the organization and is very excited to give his expertise to our young generation of players hailing from the Southwest Florida Region.

Coach Linglet wants his players to enjoy the game every time they come to the rink. He will contribute by helping his players develop their skill set, work ethic, team game, and discipline.

12U A Head Coach Marvin Degon IV

Originally from New England, Coach Marv is an esteemed alumni of the Cushing Academy and University of Massachusetts Amherst Hockey Programs. 

Degon earned contracts in the National Hockey League (NHL) with the Montreal Canadiens, the American Hockey League (AHL) with The Hartford Wolfpack and Hamilton Bulldogs.  Coach Marv also played in  the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (DEL) with the Wolfsburg Grizzlys and the Eisbären Berlin and in the Erste Banke Eishockey Liga (EBEL) with EC Villacher SV and HDD Olimpija Ljubljana. 

After playing in 600+ pro games, Degon hung up his skates in 2015 and settled in sunny Naples Florida with his family. Most recently, in 2022 Degon proudly laced up for a two-game return to hockey with The Florida Everblades. 

Degon joins the Junior Everblades program eager to share his experience, respect, and passion for hockey! With a focus on development, Coach Marv is committed to helping his players reach the next level while increasing their hockey IQ and overall love of the game.

12U A Head Coach Craig Morton

Originally from the Metro Detroit area, Coach Craig grew up playing youth hockey in Michigan within the Detroit Little Caesars organization.  Following a successful junior hockey career, he played four (4) years of college hockey at Eastern Michigan University, where he received his Bachelor's Degree in Political Science, minoring in Business Administration.

Craig is a USA Hockey Certified Level 4 coach; his background includes being a former Head Hockey Instructor for Maximum Development Hockey based out of Windsor, Ontario and currently is a Head Instructor and coach with Southeast Elite Hockey. In addition, he has been a coach within the Junior Everblades organization for over 15 years, dating back to 2006 where his JEB Squirt team won the SAHOF state championship.     

 

Coach Craig's philosophy is based around team culture, skill development, and, most importantly, having fun. 

 

12U AA Head Coach Mike Grenzy

14U A2 Head Coach Derek Poletis

14U A Head Coach Johnny Pelletier

14U AA Head Coach Jack Behan

St. Louis native Jack Behan has over 35 years of experience coaching nearly every level of youth hockey including High School, AAA, and Juniors. 

Jack coached the St. Louis Jr. Blues for twelve (12) years winning five National Championships.  While at Parkway South High School, he led the team to win two Missouri State Championships.  St. Louis University High also won two Missouri State Championships under his leadership.  Most recently, he coached for CarShield AAA Hockey. In 2012 Coach Behan was inducted into the St. Louis Amateur Hockey Hall of Fame. 

Jack has coached ten (10) players that have reached the NHL. Dozens of his players have moved onto Division I schools throughout his long career.

Coach Behan believes in a player development culture.  Teaching young players the game of hockey and providing life skills is his passion.  Discipline, accountability, and fun are the staples of Jack's coaching philosophy.   Creating a team culture of respect and brotherhood are his expectations.
 

16U A Head Coach Peter Jerabeck

Peter will be coaching the 16U A Jr. Everblades this 2022-2023 season after leading the 2020-2021 16U AA team to a regular-season championship. 

Coach Jerabeck has been coaching for the past 47 years. He brings a wealth of knowledge to the Junior Everblades organization. His successful career includes coaching at every level of youth hockey: Mites, Squirts, Pee Wee, Bantam, Midget, Juniors,  High School, and College. 

Peter continues to have the Passion-Determination- Enthusiasm- Commitment-and the love of the game. His main attributes and why he has been successful are very simple.  He is always transparent. Coach Jerabeck has the innate ability to help his players solve everyday problems athletes encounter that interfere with their ability to realize their potential on and off the ice.   Peter is looking forward to the 2022-23 season.

16U AA Head Coach Tony Lessel

Born and raised in St. Louis, MO  Tony enters his sixth season as Director of Hockey for the Jr. Everblades and the eighth year for Hertz Arena. Tony played youth hockey with the Chesterfield Falcons leading to tier 1 for the Jr. Blues and attending Chaminade College Prep. in St. Louis.

Since arriving in Florida in 2008 with a degree in Sport Management, Tony began working with the Florida Panthers in an entry-level sales position. From there he worked his way through the organization.  Within a couple of years, he was running the youth and adult travel/recreation programs out of Panthers Ice Den. Now with the Hertz Arena and the Jr. Everblades, Tony has grown both programs year after year with an emphasis on structure, development, and fun!

A USA Hockey Level 4 coach, Tony has coached numerous state championship teams of all levels over the years and worked with USA Hockey’s player development camps locally. He prides himself on development at the grassroots levels to ensure the stability of this great game in Florida for the future and has been recognized numerous times by USA Hockey for such achievements. Tony looks forward to raising many more championship banners once again this year for the Jr. Everblades.