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Coaches and Hockey Operations Staff


Oliver David

Head Coach
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Oliver David was named head coach of the Dubuque Fighting Saints on May 31, 2017, and he enters his second season with the Saints as the bench boss. He returns back to the Fighting Saints after serving as an assistant coach on ex-NHL coach Mike Johnston's staff with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League, and after serving two of three seasons with the Fighting Saints as an assistant coach, and the final as the associate head coach and assistant general manager.

No matter where Oliver David has gone, success has followed closely alongside. Following the conclusion of his professional hockey career, he has won championships on the coaching staff of California youth hockey programs, completely turned around the Kenai River Brown Bears organization, remains the winningest coach in the franchise's history to this day, and oversaw the Dubuque Fighting Saints to three consecutive playoff berths, including one trip to the Clark Cup Final in 2016.

David is in rare company, as one of very few American coaches to coach in three well-known junior leagues. For Oliver, that includes the North American Hockey League, the United States Hockey League, and the Western Hockey League.

David got his bearings as a coach at the junior level in Soldotna, Alaska with the Kenai River Brown Bears. After taking over the head coaching role in 2009, as well as serving as the alternate governor and director of hockey operations, the Brown Bears saw an immediate turnaround. He led the fledgling team to four consecutive Robertson Cup playoff berths, which had not been accomplished once before, and a record of 87-74-17 (.540).

He is entering his tenth season of coaching junior hockey, and has firsthand knowledge of the tradition of excellence here in Dubuque which has spanned seven consecutive playoff berths and two Clark Cup championships since 2010–11. In his time here serving under Matt Shaw and Jason Lammers, the Fighting Saints accumulated a record of 108-61-11 (.639). Mostly in charge of the defense, David coached standouts such as Michael Davies, Keegan Ford, Casey Johnson, Tampa Bay Lightning draft selection Ryan Zuhlsdorf, and Edmonton Oilers draft selection William Lagesson.

David originally hails from Los Angeles, California, and he remains a staunch advocate for hockey in the Pacific District. The west coast is burgeoning hotbed of hockey that has produced Fighting Saints alumni such as Dylan Gambrell, Robby Jackson, and Jacob Hamacher. His time in California saw championships with several youth hockey teams, including a national championship with the California Wave.

The coaching bug bit David while he was playing with EC Pfaffenhofen of the Bayernliga rehabbing an injury. He has not looked back since, and has remained a successful coach at every stop on his journey.

David, along with his wife, Denee, and children Oden and Denver, live in Dubuque.


Kalle Larsson

General Manager
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Kalle Larsson was named General Manager of the Fighting Saints on May 30, 2017. He originally joined the Dubuque Fighting Saints as the Director of Player Personnel in August 2015. As GM, he oversees current and future Dubuque Fighting Saints players.

Larsson joined the Fighting Saints from the Sioux City Musketeers, where he previously served as the club's Assistant General Manager and Director of Scouting. The Gothenburg, Sweden native joined the team late in the 2013-14 season and provided insight to the organization during two USHL drafts. In 2014-15, Sioux City finished in the top spot in the USHL's Western Conference.

Prior to joining Sioux City, Larsson was the Associate Head Coach at his alma mater, Lawrence University in Appleton, WI. Larsson played for Lawrence from 2003-2007, scoring 19 points in 22 games his senior season. Larsson returned to Lawrence as an Assistant Coach in 2010. He spent four years on the coaching staff of the NCAA Division-III program before joining Sioux City. 

Larsson graduated from Lawrence with a double major in Government and International Studies, and a minor in History.

Larsson lives in Chicago with his family.


Phil Axtell

Assistant Coach
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Phil Axtell joined the Dubuque Fighting Saints' coaching staff on July 30, 2018. He most recently served as the head coach of the Quad City Mallards of the ECHL.

With the Mallards, Axtell led the club to a Kelly Cup Playoffs berth as an interim head coach during the 2016–17 season. He directed the team to the tune of a 21-12-2 record, a franchise-high 8-game winning streak, and the team's first 40-win season in over a decade. He was promoted to full-time head coach for the 2017–18 season, serving as one of the youngest coaches in the ECHL at just 31 years of age.

The Mallards partnered with the Vegas Golden Knights prior to the 17–18 season, and as a result, Axtell had the opportunity to take part in the newest NHL franchise's inaugural development and rookie camps.

Axtell has played both professionally and collegiately, as he played for the Mallards during the 2010–11 season, and saw time with Northern Michigan University, and Michigan Tech.

Prior to that, he played two seasons with the Cedar Rapids RoughRiders, was named a USHL All-Star twice, and was part of the magical run in the 2004–05 season that saw the Riders capture the Anderson Cup as regular season champions (42-11-5), and the Clark Cup.


Matt Millar

Assistant Coach
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Matt Millar joined the Fighting Saints as the team's Goalie Coach and Director of Hockey Operations in August of 2013, and was promoted to Assistant Coach in June of 2017.

Prior to joining the Saints, Matt spent 10 years in Minnesota. He played, and then coached, at Bethel University, which saw a MIAC regular season and league championship, followed by an NCAA Division III Tournament appearance. Shortly after that, Millar helped coach the Edina Bantam AAA and Hill-Murray High School to Minnesota state titles.

Before leaving Minnesota for Dubuque, Millar was an amateur scout for the NHL's Arizona Coyotes from 2009 to 2011, and was a regional scout and Strelow mentor for USA Hockey's National Team Development Program.

Internationally, Millar has been an assistant coach with USA Hockey during the Five Nations Tournament (2017), and the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament (2018). He has worked with two USA Hockey Goalie of the Year recipients in Mike Lee (2000) and Hunter Miska (2016).

Millar comes from a hockey family. His father, Peter, was an athletic therapist for the Edmonton Oilers and an equipment manager for the Los Angeles Kings. All totaled, Peter spent 25 years in the WHA and the NHL.


Colby Drost

Director of Scouting
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Colby Drost was promoted to Director of Scouting on June 13, 2018. He was named Assistant Director of Player Personnel in July, 2016.

Drost adds experience at the college, USHL, and USPHL levels. He served as a recruiting coordinator at Skidmore College (Division III), where he secured 13 student-athlete commitments during the 2015–16 season, and those players helped lead the program to its second-ever national ranking during the 2016–17 season. At the USHL level, he served as a scout with the Sioux City Musketeers and the Dubuque Fighting Saints.

Most recently with the York Skipjacks, a top-flight organization in the US Premier Hockey League, he filled the role of Director of Scouting for the past four seasons. During his tenure, he secured 17 Division I student-athlete commitments and the organization produced 16 USHL draft picks, 17 NAHL draft picks, and 27 USPHL All-Stars.

Drost graduated cum laude from the University of New England with a B.A. in history and received a Masters of Legal Studies from Northeastern University.

Drost is based out of Franklin Lake, New Jersey.


Nick Hart

Athletic Trainer
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Nick Hart enters his third season as the head Athletic Trainer for the Dubuque Fighting Saints. He spent the past two years in upstate New York as the Assistant Athletic Trainer at Elmira College (NCAA Division III).

Prior to his time at Elmira College, he served as an athletic training student intern with the Omaha Lancers of the USHL. Hart earned his bachelor's degree in athletic training from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, and recently graduated with a master's of science degree in education from Elmira College.

Originally from Lincoln, Nebraska, Hart currently resides in Hazel Green, Wisconsin.


Brian Stoya

Equipment Manager
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Brian Stoya joined the Dubuque Fighting Saints as equipment manager on August 1, 2018. The New York native enters his first season in this role, in charge of all Fighting Saints equipment maintenance and orders.

Stoya most recently joined the Saints after serving as an equipment management intern with Union College's Men's and Women's teams during the 2017–18 season, and prior to that, as a student equipment manager with SUNY Cortland during the 2016–17 season. He also had the opportunity of a lifetime to be the equipment manager during the 2nd and 3rd annual Miracle on Ice Fantasy Camp in Lake Placid, N.Y.

Stoya grew up with the game of hockey, and he has been involved in equipment management in some capacity over the past three years. He grew up as a defenseman from the age of four in Lake George, N.Y., and played Junior B hockey with the Adirondack Jr. Wings, and completed his playing career at Mohawk Valley Community College in Utica.


Jim Romagna

Strength and Conditioning Coach

Jim Romagna enters his ninth season with the Fighting Saints as an established Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach (National Strength and Conditioning Association) and a Certified Personal Trainer (American Council on Exercise). Romagna is the Department Head at The University of Dubuque in the Health Wellness and Sport program and owns and operates Natural Fit Fitness Training and Consulting, and Romagna Performance with his wife Jennifer. Romagna has competed nationally in more than 20 bodybuilding competitions, appeared on the cover of Muscle and Magazine, and has written freelance articles for many national magazines. 

A Loras College alumnus, Romagna worked as the Strength and Conditioning Coach at Loras College from 2000 to 2007. He and his wife Jennifer and four children, Jade, Angelo, Ava and Beatrice, reside in Dubuque.


Amy Edwards

Housing Coordinator
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Amy Edwards, a billet since the 2013/2014 season, joined the Dubuque Fighting Saints in July 2018 as Housing Coordinator. 

Through collaboration with coaches, billet families, players and their families, she is committed to facilitating a positive housing experience for all Dubuque Fighting Saints players.

Edwards is a native of Dubuque, graduated from Loras College with an Elementary Education degree, and resides in Peosta, IA with her husband, Doug and children, P.J. and Mary.


Patti Swartz

Housing Coordinator

Patti Swartz returns for her final season with the Dubuque Fighting Saints organization as housing coordinator. She has spent the past 8 seasons working with the team and previously helped with housing for the Thunderbirds.

Patti resides in Dubuque.

 


JoAnne Gibson

Education Coordinator

​JoAnne Uthe-Gibson joined the Dubuque Fighting Saints in 2010 as the Education Coordinator for the team. Gibson received a Master of Arts in Teaching degree from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. She taught at Dubuque Senior High School from 1975-2008 and is currently an adjunct faculty member at the Northeast Iowa Community College.

Gibson assists the players in preparing for the next level in their educational careers. She enjoys working with the Saints players to be academically ready when they leave Dubuque, whether they are in high school, or are taking online courses to prepare for college.

Gibson resides with her husband, Don, in rural Hazel Green, Wisconsin.

Fighting Saints Scouting Staff