Kevyn Adams, MBA, who joined Harborcenter’s management team in October 2013, will oversee the operations and direction of the program which will boast a full-time staff of coaches that will lead and support skill-building programs for players and coaches to provide a slate of rigorous on-ice training programs.
Adams comes to Harborcenter from the Buffalo Sabres coaching staff, where he spent the last two years as an assistant coach with the team. Prior to that, Adams worked for two years as the Sabres’ player development coach, working with players on their individual skills through on-ice drills and off-ice video sessions. His coaching experience stems from an 11-year playing career in the NHL, during which he played for six clubs including the Toronto Maple Leafs, Columbus Blue Jackets, Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes, Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks. Originally drafted 25th overall by the Boston Bruins in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft, Adams helped lead the Hurricanes to the franchise’s first Stanley Cup in 2005-06.
Before his NHL career, Adams played collegiate hockey at Miami University (Ohio), where he graduated as the school’s third-highest scoring player in team history and was inducted into the RedHawks’ Hall of Fame in 2012. A native of Western New York, Adams played for several local teams including the Niagara Scenics (now Buffalo Junior Sabres) and the Wheatfield Blades.
CHARLIE MENDOLA – Assistant General Manager / Assistant Director of Academy of Hockey
Charlie Mendola joins the Academy of Hockey Staff as the Assistant Director, reporting to Kevyn Adams, the Director of the Academy. As Assistant Director, Mendola’s responsibilities will include assisting in the creation, implementation, marketing and servicing of all Academy programing that will make Harborcenter a development destination for hockey players. A native of Western New York, Mendola played for the Niagara Scenics Jr. A (now Buffalo Jr. Sabres), before continuing his playing career at the Rochester Institute of Technology. Mendola continues to be active in WNY hockey as a youth hockey coach. He currently coaches multiple teams, and at times will also be utilized as an on-ice coach for Academy of Hockey programming.
Mendola comes to the Academy after 15 years in the Retail Banking field including multiple positions at HSBC Bank USA and First Niagara Bank. Most recently, he was the First Vice President and an Area Manager of Retail Banking at First Niagara Bank.
MATT ELLIS – Academy of Hockey Development Coach
Matt Ellis joins the Academy after playing 58 games for the Rochester Americans last season. The Ontario native retired this summer following a 14-year professional career that included 356 games in the NHL. Ellis skated for the Sabres in parts of seven seasons, scoring 18 goals and 43 points in 302 games. Throughout his career, Ellis played a leadership role in the Sabres developmental system, serving as captain of the Sabres AHL affiliate in three seasons in both Rochester and Portland. Upon being claimed by the Sabres in 2008, Ellis and his family have made Western New York their permanent home and have resided in Clarence for the past eight years. Through the final two years of his professional playing career, Ellis turned to the Academy to facilitate the on-ice portion of his offseason training regimen, working heavily with Academy director Kevyn Adams and skating development coach Mike Ansell.
JOHN DAIGNEAU – Academy of Hockey Director of Goaltending
John Daigneau joins Harborcenter’s team as Director of Goaltending for the Academy of Hockey. Daigneau spent the last four years as assistant coach at Canisius College, including the Griffs’ 2013 Atlantic Hockey championship and NCAA berth. He also spent two seasons as an assistant coach at the University School of Milwaukee, helping the team to the 2010 WIAA Boys State Championship, as well as assisting with multiple youth teams in the Milwaukee Winter Club Organization.
Prior to coaching, Daigneau was a standout goaltender at Harvard and helped lead the Crimson to four NCAA tournaments and two ECAC championships. As a senior, he earned ECAC Championship Most Outstanding Player accolades and was honored with the John Tudor Memorial Award as the team’s MVP. Daigneau also spent time with the Idaho Steelheads and Pensacola Ice Pilots of the ECHL and the Wichita Thunder of the CHL, winning a Kelly Cup Championship while with Idaho. Growing up in the suburbs of Milwaukee, Daigneau played youth hockey followed by two years in high school. He moved away from home to play in the USHL prior to his junior year of high school and spent three years playing for the Rochester Mustangs and the Chicago Steel. Daigneau earned a Master of Sport Administration degree from Canisius College in 2012.
Daigneau will work with the rest of the Academy coaching staff to implement elite level training and development programs for all positions and skill levels, as well as provide additional goalie-specific support to Marty Biron.
MIKE ANSELL – Academy of Hockey Development Skating Coach
Mike Ansell joins Harborcenter’s Academy of Hockey staff as a Development Skating Coach. Ansell spent the past 7 years as ColdRush Hockey Skills Director, working as a power skating and skills coach with multiple professional players and many NCAA athletes. He started his coaching career with the AA Ashburn Xtreme before moving on to the AAA DC Capitals organization, where he served for two years as the head coach for the U16 DC Caps. In 2012, Ansell became head coach and Director of Player Development for the Washington Little Capitals, Northern Virginia’s Tier 1-AAA youth hockey program.
Ansell is a homegrown hockey player from Northern Virginia and played his youth hockey locally for the Reston Raiders and Broad Run High School, earning All-Met honors his senior year. He then left for Ontario to play in the OPJHL for the Couchiching Terries and the Hunstville Wildcats. Ansell finished his junior career with the Fort Erie Metors before moving on to play college hockey at the NCAA Division III level for Buffalo State where he graduated in 2008 with a Bachelors of Science degree in Health and Wellness.
DAN COLLINS – Academy of Hockey Development Coach
Dan Collins, a native of Syracuse, NY joins the Academy of Hockey staff as a Development Coach. Dan had a very successful major junior hockey career, drafted in the 2nd round of the 2003 OHL Draft by the Plymouth Whalers. He played 4 years for the Whalers, winning the 2007 OHL Championship. Dan was also voted as having the Best Shot in the 2007 OHL Coaches poll. During his major junior career he also represented the United States in numerous tournaments, winning the 4 nations cup as well as a Gold Medal at the 2005 Under-18 World Championship. Also during the 2005 season Dan was drafted in the 3rd round by the Florida Panthers in the NHL draft. Following his junior career he played parts of 3 seasons for the Rochester Americans as well as in the East Coast Hockey League. After retiring Dan and his family moved to the Buffalo area where they now live in Getzville, NY.
Dan will work with the rest of the Academy of Hockey staff to provide elite level training and development programs for all different age and skill levels.
NICK TUZZOLINO – Academy of Hockey Development Coach
Nick Tuzzolino joins the Academy of Hockey Staff as a Development Coach, returning with his family to Buffalo following his playing career. Originally drafted in the 7th round of the 2005 NHL Draft by the New York Islanders, Tuzzolino, a defenseman, played in over 500 professional games between the AHL and the ECHL during a career spanning 10 years. Growing up in East Amherst, NY Tuzzolino played his minor hockey in Buffalo with the Amherst Knights, the Buffalo Regals, and the Buffalo Lightning (now Buffalo Jr. Sabres). During his senior year of high school he played with the Lincoln Stars of the USHL before continuing his hockey career in the OHL, splitting time between the Sarnia Sting and the Sudbury Wolves.
Tuzzolino will work with the rest of the Academy coaching staff to implement elite level training and development programs, also serving as Assistant Coach to the Buffalo Jr. Sabres 20u OJHL team.
MARTIN BIRON – Academy of Hockey Development Coach
Martin Biron has been connected to Buffalo for almost 20 years. He was selected by the Sabres in the first round of the 1995 draft and made his debut that same season, at the age of 18. Biron went on to spend parts of nine seasons in blue and gold, and currently ranks fourth in franchise history with 300 games played. Biron posted a 134-115-37 record with the Sabres, with a 2.53 goals against average and .909 save percentage. In 2007, he was traded to the Philadelphia Flyers and led the team to the 2008 Eastern Conference Finals. Following his time in Philadelphia, Biron went on to join the Islanders and Rangers, retiring from the NHL on October 20th of last year, almost 19 years after playing his first NHL game. In all, Biron played in 508 NHL games and compiled a record of 230-191-80.
As the Academy of Hockey’s Director of Goaltending, Biron will work to create an innovative approach to coaching that position. He will help shape and implement all goaltending aspects of the Academy of Hockey. Biron will work to form programs, create specialized instruction plans and drills, and aid in The Academy’s advanced use of video. In addition, he will develop the Academy of Hockey’s goaltending philosophy, and formulate both in-season and offseason goaltending development programs.
OLGA KHMYLEV – Operations Supervisor / Academy of Hockey Business Manager
Olga Khmylev has been a member of the Sabres family for years and years. Her father Yuri played for the Sabres from 1992 to 1996 and has worked in the scouting department for over a decade.
Khmylev went to Boston College on a full scholarship for tennis and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communications and East European Studies. She worked for the Sabres as a public relations intern during the 2011 World Juniors, and has since then worked for the IIHF as a results manager at the 2012 and 2013 World Junior Championships in Calgary and Ufa, respectively. Khmylev also attended the Game Officials Education Program at the 2014 IIHF Hockey Development Camp at the Sport Institute of Finland in Vierumaki, Finland. Last year, she worked as a hockey and football sideline reporter for Time Warner Cable. Khmylev was also the host/reporter for the Canisius College hockey team and assisted them with their multimedia production. Most recently she worked in production at the hockey venues for NBC at the Sochi Olympics.
As the Academy of Hockey’s Program Manger, Khmylev will be reporting to Kevyn Adams and assisting the entire Academy coaching staff in the behind-the-scenes logistics of all of their development programing and will be the liaison between the Academy and participant families.