IRONBOUND COACHES & STAFF

Sam Cheema - Hockey Director

London, UK

Hockey Director and Head Coach, 19U Premier & 14U Elite.

Sam was born and raised in London UK and ended his playing career whilst representing Great Britain internationally at the World Games in Kazakhstan,  Sam started his coaching career while still playing with Guildford Flames Juniors and Imperial College, London.

In 2017, Sam moved to New York City and has progressed full time into coaching.  Sam's coaching resume extends to skills development for mites through college athletes (training NCAA, NCDC and Junior Hockey Players) - with a heavy focus on athletic development.  Outside of his team commitments, he works with athletes on a holistic view to training (recovery, nutrition, mobility, performance, and on-ice skill development). Sam also works with NY Blind Hockey Association and College Hockey Showcases (Sweden & Denmark) as the lead skills and skating educator.

Sam graduated from Kingston Business School, London, with a degree in communications planning and strategy.

Nora Maclaine

Head Coach, 19U Elite; Assistant Coach, 19U Premier, 16U Premier.

Nora played ice hockey for the Boston Shamrocks before being recruited to the University of Connecticut (UCONN) NCAA I in 2015. As a forward, she finished her four year college career with 14pts. Nora joined Ironbound in 2021 as a coach for our Premier and Elite teams.

Damon Smith

Assistant Coach, 19U Premier, 19U Elite, 16U Premier, 14U Elite. 

Damon Smith, entering his twelfth season coaching. Damon played youth hockey in Massachusetts and high school hockey at Thayer Academy in Braintree, Massachusetts before playing NCAA Division III Lacrosse at Franklin & Marshall. Coach Smith has a focus on each individual within the context of a team, and he is committed to ensuring that each player has strong fundamental skills while keeping an eye on the bigger picture.

Ross Gibby

Assistant Coach, 19U Elite.

Ross Gibby began playing hockey at age 8 in Chatham, NJ and went on to be named Captain of the Chatham High School varsity team. 

He is a Level 4 USA Hockey Coach with 6 years of experience working with female hockey players. He is as passionate about character development as he is about the game. 

Blake Kessel

Verona, WI

Head Coach, 16U Premier.

Blake’s was drafted by the New Islanders in 2007. He went on to play for UNH hockey for 3 seasons where he was added to the all-hockey east team 2009-10 season and represented the USA at the 20U World Jr Championships. Blake signed with the Philadelphia Flyers in 2010 and played for within 13 professional organizations over his 10-year professional career.

Now, Blake has settled in New Jersey with his wife Courtney (Birchard) Kessel – who also coaches for Princeton University. Blake has 2 siblings who also play hockey – Amanda and Phil – who are both currently playing in the US national team and NHL respectively.

Zac Gross

New Jersey

Assistant Coach, 16U Premier.

Ironbound is proud to announce the addition of Zac Gross to the Ironbound team. Gross brings a wealth of experience with him. He began his coaching career 10 years ago in the New Jersey Stars organization as the head coach of the Midget AA team and the NJ Kings Junior Tier 1 independent team. For the past seven years, he has coached his daughter Gabriela from Mite to Bantam with the Jersey City Capitals.

In addition to his coaching career, Gross played professional-level hockey in France and NCAA Division 1 at Quinnipiac University. Gross also played Juniors in the United States Hockey League (USHL) with the Rochester Mustangs, Major Juniors with the Wexford Raiders in Toronto and was a member of the United States 17U National Development Team.

James Witmer

New Jersey

Head Coach, 14U Premier.

James is a native Canadian with a passion for the game and owns Cutting Edge Ice Academy in Elmwood Park, NJ. James has a deep passion for the game of hockey and the growth of player development. James has worked with leading skill coaches through his facility and provides opportunities for players to develop their game through innovative ways.

Dave Barbossa

New Jersey

Assistant Coach, 14U Premier.

Dave Barbosa is a returning coach for the girls' 12U Peewee A team. Dave played varsity high school hockey at Hudson Catholic in Jersey City and was in the 10 all-time scoring leaders in the state. He then went on to play Midget tier 1 with the Essex County Chiefs and from there onto Juniors Hockey with the NJ Golden Blades. In 1988 Dave was invited to try out for the Weyburn Red Wings for tier 2 Junior hockey in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League. Dave played at Seton Hall University where he also played varsity baseball. In 1991 Dave began playing with the Newark Sabres off the M.A.S.H. League until 1999 when the league folded.

Dave graduated from Montclair University and from 1992 to present he has been a firefighter in Jersey City. Dave has been coaching youth hockey for the past 7 years.

Frankie Loftus - Skills Director

New Jersey

Frankie is a specialist skills coach with over 10 years of experience working with Olympians, USHL, Prep School, NCAA D1 and professional hockey players. He specializes in overspeed training and creativity.

Aerin Frankel - Goaltending Coach and College Mentor

New York

Aerin started her hockey career in Westchester, NY. Since then she has gone on to be the prominent goaltender in the NCAA with the Northeastern Huskies.  She was named to the U.S. Under-22 Women’s Select Team for the first time in August 2019 where she competed for Team USA against Canada at Lake Placid, New York.

Frankel was also selected to the U.S. Women’s National Team for the first time in December 2019 where she participated in the two-game Rivalry Series. The highlight came on Dec. 17, 2019, when Frankel backstopped the U.S. to a 2-1 victory against Team Canada during the second game of the Rivalry Series in Moncton, New Brunswick. Frankel stopped 27 of 28 shots faced in the victory.

Jeff Lovecchio - Head of Strength & Conditioning Programing

Jeff is a former professional player who spent over 10 years in the professional game. Jeff played NCAA D1 hockey at Western Michigan before signing with the Boston Bruins and joining their AHL affiliate in Providence. Now fully in the strength and conditioning space Jeff is one of the best trainers in the hockey world. Operating out of St Louis his clientele ranges from NHL - AAA players and is extremely well respected in hockey.

Andrew Coyne - Registrar & Administrator

New Jersey

Andrew Coyne was born and raised in New Jersey, growing up playing ice hockey for the Jersey Penguins, NJ Rockets, & St. Peter's Prep Maruarders. Andrew joined Ironbound in Fall 2019, assisting, Owner, Kathryn Kehoe in day-to-day operations and also as the Commissioner & Treasurer of the Garden State Girls Hockey League (2019-2020).

Currently, Andrew is a Junior at Endicott College in Beverly, MA studying Sport Management. Along with Ironbound, Andrew works as a Tournament Director and Administrator for the National Girls Hockey League (NGHL). Andrew is also the brother of former Ironbound and current Endicott College Women's Ice Hockey (DIII) player, Molly Coyne.