Arizona Rubber

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Nepsa’s hiring means CAHA goaltending trending upward


Mike Nepsa has worked with many successful junior, college and pro goaltenders, but this upcoming season, he’s bringing his expertise to the Jr. Coyotes and the Coyotes Amateur Hockey Association as the club’s new director of goaltending and goalie coach.

Nepsa comes to the Valley having worked numerous gigs last season. He was the goaltending coach for NCAA Division I Canisius College (Atlantic Hockey), goalie coach for the Buffalo Beauts of the National Women’s Hockey League, a goalie instructor for the Academy of Hockey and Buffalo Jr. Sabres with former NHL goalie Marty Biron and a goalie instructor with Bob Janosz School of Goaltending.


“I was working seven days a week non-stop last year,” said Nepsa, who worked with Hobey Baker Award finalist Charles Williams at Canisius.

Nepsa noted that his time working with renowned goalie instructor Shane Clifford in Pittsburgh helped shape his individual career in the business.

nepsa1“I would not be where I am today in the coaching world if it wasn’t for Shane Clifford,” said Nepsa. “My relationship with Shane goes back more than a decade when I went to him myself as a student. Shane helped my game advance to give me the opportunity to roster in the pros, specifically in the ECHL with Wheeling, Toledo and Orlando. He employed me to work for him instructing his private goalie lessons in 2012. By 2014, I was running all of Shane’s lessons at the main location, seeing over 80 goalies per week. Shane has helped me continue to be a part of the game that I love through coaching. He gave me my first opportunity in coaching and has always supported me. Surround yourself with good people and good things happen.

“The friendship that I have gained with Shane and fellow instructor Frank Gribbin is something that means a great deal to me and I truly owe them for all they have done to get me to where I am today.”

Jr. Coyotes Elite Program hockey director Marc Fritsche could not be more elated with Nepsa coming on board.

“Goaltending is obviously a key position with unique needs and we all agreed that bringing in a coach with Mike’s knowledge to work with all of our goaltenders was a top priority for our program,” said Fritsche. “It is advantageous to have someone focus directly on our goaltenders, which will help them improve and develop at a greater pace. Mike is a good fit for our coaching staff. His addition complements our already solid team of coaches. We have guys with a lot of hockey knowledge, and good player skill coaches on our benches, but the one thing we were missing was a dedicated resource for our goaltenders. Mike fills that void and will thrive in this position.

“Recognizing his extensive background, as both a player and coach, and his ability to teach is a recipe for success and our goaltenders with benefit greatly.”

Coming to Arizona with the idea that he can help build the goalie landscape of an already-existing NHL market is what really attracted Nepsa to the area at first.

“I am excited to build this goalie community brick by brick from the ground up, so that 10, 15, 20 years from now, goalies from Arizona will be set to a higher standard,” Nepsa said. “My dream is to impact this area the same way Shane Clifford has impacted the Pittsburgh area. I enjoy working with all ages of students from seven years old to pro and all in between. The fundamentals stay the same at every level and I enjoy seeing the foundation being built when I work with the younger goalies. As the student grows, I like being a part of helping them build more layers to their game and help them achieve their goals.”

— Matt Mackinder

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