Matt Kakabeeke - Hockey Director
A Kalamazoo native and KOHA's Hockey Director, Matt has had a hand in the youth hockey landscape in Southwest Michigan for more than 25 years. Developing players has been a passion of Matt's his entire adult life. He started coaching KOHA's travel teams in 1990 and has coached at the high school level, for the WMU Stallions, various State Games of Michigan teams and Team Michigan Festival teams as well. He's served on youth hockey boards and driven skill development teams.
Since 2004, Matt has served USA Hockey in the capacity of Associate Coach-in-Chief for the Michigan District, and in helping deliver ADM principles and philosophies to youth organizations throughout the state.
Matt holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice & Political Science and a Masters of Public Administration Degree, both from Western Michigan University.
Matt has served as KOHA's Hockey Director since 2017 and is also the head coach for KOHA's 2007 Gold K-Wings team.
Kyle Bushee - Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL)
Kyle Bushee - Entering his second season on KOHA's Skill Development Staff, Kyle is living the hometown hockey dream. He got his start with KOHA as a young player, and enters the 18/19 season with the Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL) as one of the All-Time leaders in league history for most games played. “It’s unique – I grew up going to games and playing between periods as a kid for the old K-Wings when they were in the IHL. To be able to play for them, it’s awesome. I live in my hometown, I get to do what I love in my hometown.... It’s really just a perfect scenario for me.” (Originally published at ECHL.com)
What other sports did you play growing up?
Baseball, soccer, cross-country, track
How important was it to get away from the rink during the off-season?
Tremendously important. Put the gear away. Play other sports. Have fun outside. Find other ways to improve your skills without going to the rink.
What was your favorite summer activity?
Just being a kid. Riding my bike. Playing with buddies.
Justin Taylor - Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL)
Justin Taylor - The Kalamazoo Wings veteran center was a sixth-round draft pick by the Washington Capitals in the 2007 draft, and has played primarily in Kalamazoo since the 2010 season amassing an impressive offensive career that has landed him at the top of the team's scoring list as the K-Wings All-time ECHL points and goal leader. The K-Wings loaned Taylor to the Utica Comets of the American Hockey League (AHL) for a couple of games during the 17/18 season. "I am excited to work with KOHA's players again this season. The Kalamazoo hockey community has given me so much, it's nice to be able to share what I've learned throughout my career and help young hockey players in our area. I look forward to getting back at it with the kids to continue their development as players and teammates," said Taylor.
Other sports I played growing up:
Roller hockey, flag footbal and biking
I was born on Manitoulin Island, In Canada. Have your kids look it up. Its right across from Alpena, Michigan - only a lake divides us!
Tom Askey has been involved in KOHA, as our goalie coach for over a decade. Tom played four seasons with The Ohio State University, and several years of professional hockey (NHL, AHL, IHL & in Europe) after being drafted by the Anaheim Mighty Ducks in the 1993 NHL Entry Draft. Tom is currently the goalie coach for the WMU Bronco Hockey team, runs local goaltending camps and clinics, and we are excited he will return to KOHA for the 18/19 season helping to develop our young players.
Fun Fact: When he's not on the ice with goalies, you can likely find Tom behind a mic and playing guitar with The Tom Askey Band at a local event or watering hole!
Tom Askey, WMU Goalie Coach
Zach Saar - Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL)
Zach Saar - First of all, he's huge. The 6'6" Plainwell native and former Penn State University Hockey standout played four seasons for the Nittany Lions and signed with the Anaheim Duck's affiliate, San Diego Gulls for the 2017-18 season. He signed with the K-Wings (ECHL) for the 18/19 season, “Signing in Kalamazoo means a lot on so many levels,” said Saar. “I wore that sweater with KOHA growing up and now to wear it again, everything has just come full circle. It means so much more than just myself. My career is coming back to where it started and it’s just really cool and kind of surreal.” Saar was raised in Plainwell, MI and played his youth hockey with KOHA. Growing up, Saar played soccer, football, basketball and golf when he wasn't on the ice, and is proud of the fact that he played hockey locally in Kalamazoo until he was 15 years old.
Favorite video game:
Favorite Fortnite dance move:
The Dinosaur impression never gets old
Garrett Skrbich - Princeton University Hockey
Garrett Skrbich - Back for another season on the KOHA Skills Staff is former Princeton Tigers Assistant Captain, Garrett Skrbich.
A Hermantown, MN native, Garrett began playing hockey at 4 years old on the outdoor rinks near Duluth. Growing up, he played soccer, baseball, golf and spent quite a bit of time wakeboarding. He didn't specialize in hockey until his Senior year of high school.
After graduating with a Chemical & Biological Engineering degree, a great opportunity with Pfizer brought Garrett to Kalamazoo. Aside from his playing experience, Garrett was an Assistant Power Skating Instructor mentoring under DI Minnesota-Duluth Bulldogs Skating Coach, Bronwyn Pichetti, as well as coaching at Minnesota summer camps, and assistant coaching for the summer AAA Ice Dogs High School hockey team.
Joel Martin (G) - Goaltender Joel Martin backstopped the Kalamazoo Wings for 9 seasons, recently retired from playing and accepted a position behind the bench with the K-Wings as an Assistant Coach. Martin ended his 14 year playing career in Kalamazoo as the franchise's all-time leader in wins, shutouts, games played, minutes played, and saves. Martin was named ECHL Goaltender of the Week 9 times and had three 30-win seasons, both of which are League records.
Joel Martin, Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL)
Dave Shyiak, WMU Bronco Hockey
Dave Shyiak - The Associate Head Coach of the Western Michigan University Bronco Hockey team since 2014, has two sons in our program. Prior to his 22 years (and counting) behind the bench at the NCAA level, as a player, Dave helped his NMU Wildcats to three 20-win seasons, two NCAA Tournaments and the 1991 National Championship. Dave has been a tremendous asset to our club; he's dedicated to helping KOHA create an elite environment for development and coaching education through our Coaches College clinics. Dave, his wife and their three children live in Richland.
Ben Miller - WMU Bronco Hockey
Ben Miller - Former Western Michigan University Bronco Hockey player, the Rochester Hills, MI native who grew up playing baseball and lacrosse too, loves that KOHA emphasizes the importance of kids playing multiple sports and getting away from the rink during the off-season. "Whether I was playing baseball, lacrosse or golf, getting away from the rink was important. It got me excited for the next season. I still worked on skills - like shooting and stick handling in my driveway - but in an unstructured environment," Miller said.
Entering his second season on our Skills Staff, Miller has these observations, "Being able to see the different age groups, and the progression of improvement through the birth years is proof that this model of development works. We did not have a model like the ADM; we had dads who sometimes didn't know much about hockey development. I like that coaches are trained in a different way now, and I think the players benefit greatly, especially down the road, when it matters most."
JJ Crew - WMU Bronco Hockey
JJ Crew - Prior to the 2017/18 season, JJ Crew was named WMU Bronco Hockey's Director of Player Development, assisting Head Coach Andy Murray and his staff in analyzing the development of their student-athletes and areas of improvement for the team.
Crew played 133 games (amassing 20 goals and 35 assists) during his four seasons at WMU, and after his playing career, stepped immediately into coaching. He spent two seasons as an assistant coach with the Hampton Road Whalers of the USPHL Elite League before taking the helm of the Colorado Rampage Junior A team. Crew spent the 16/17 season as a graduate assistant coach at Ohio University, where he helped the team finish ranked No. 2 in ACHA Division I.
"I'm excited about giving back to a youth program in a city I was fortunate to call home for 4 years while I was a Bronco at Western, and where I currently reside now as a staff member. I hope I'm able to make an impact in their lives like my youth coaches did for me, and maybe one day they too can become Broncos!"
Travis Sabin is a Level 4 USA Hockey certified coach who coached for several years in KOHA's Travel program, as well as behind on the bench for the Kalamazoo Blades Varsity high school hockey team. Travis has been actively involved with KOHA's development programs for the last several years, including our 8U program, various camps and our Pre-Travel Tryout clinics and skates. Travis brings terrific insight on our player's skill development and growth, as he is on the ice with as many age divisions as anyone on our Skill Development Team, and has been for years. We are excited about having Travis back as a member of our Skills Team for the 18/19 season.
Chris Noonan (G) - (First of all, yes, he is Frank Noonan's son!) Chris grew up playing with KOHA and then for the AAA West Michigan Warriors before spending two seasons on a Junior team in Syracuse, NY. Noonan attended Niagra University appearing in 54 games for the Purple Eagles Div I team during his four years, capped off with a stellar senior season (first in save % and GAA, leading all NCAA) that earned him the Atlantic Hockey Association's Goalie-of-the-year award . Noonan then signed on with the Toronto Marlies of the AHL (Toronto Maple Leafs affiliate) as a backup for their 2012 playoff run.
Chris works for Stryker and resides in Portage with his wife and their two young children.
Chris Noonan, Niagra University (AHA)
Jimmy Mullin, Kalamazoo Wings (ECHL)
Current K-Wing, and Tampa Bay Lightning fourth round draft pick ('10), Jimmy Mullin is back for a second year on KOHA's Skills Team!
Mullin began skating and playing hockey at a young age, but credits much of his success on the ice to playing multiple sports, "Baseball, basketball, hockey, tennis, lacrosse, soccer, and golf. I don't believe in kids just playing one sport growing up. Being a multi-sport athlete has lifelong benefits: coordination, flexibility, endurance, teamwork, time management, and so much more."
Mullin spent three years at Miami (Ohio) University ('11-'14) playing in the CCHA and NCHC then transferred to Minnesota State for his final year of eligibility.
Fun Fact: Though a training camp injury with Kalamazoo sidelined him for the entire 2016-17 season, Mullin still established himself as a household name by attending countless community service events and appearances earning him the team's annual Community Service Award.
A Plainwell native, Thorne, grew up playing youth hockey in Kalamazoo and high school hockey for the Kalamazoo Eagles under Coach Matt (Kakabeeke).
"Logan is an upcoming coach in KOHA. Logan has been actively involved with the '07 players for several years, both in House C and Travel. I have observed Logan grow and develop as a coach. Logan has been able to establish great relationships with this group, and I expect he will do the same has we broaden his responsibilities with more of our players, coaches and families."
Logan is entering his second season on our Skills Staff and works with our players from the youngest ages, up to our 12U &14U age groups. His commitment to their development is evident throughout his interactions with the players on and off the ice.
What other sports did you play growing up?:
Fun Fact: Logan is most often seen wearing Green Bay Packers fan gear (or Wisconsin Badgers, or Brewers, or... a cheesehead.)
Logan Thorne - GOALIE INSTRUCTOR
Travis Culhane, WMU Bronco Hockey
Travis Culhane - KOHA is excited to welcome Travis to our Skills Staff this season! Travis was recently announced as the Director of Hockey Operations for the WMU Bronco Hockey Team. He played his youth hockey with KOHA while his father, Jim, was at the helm of the WMU Bronco Hockey Team, and played high school hockey at Mattawan before attending WMU, where he worked with the Broncos in a hockey operations capacity during his time as a student. Travis holds a bachelor's degree in human resource management and was a member of WMU's Lee Honors College, where he was a Medallion Scholar.
Coach Kenny grew up in Kalamazoo, played his youth hockey for KOHA and played high school hockey at Portage Northern High School. He has been a part of USA Hockey's Coaching Education Program for 12 years during which time has been involved with multiple USA Hockey select camps and teams.
After graduating high school in '96 Kenny wanted to give back and started helping out with his younger brother's KOHA team and eventually coached his first team in '98. (His first team manager was none other than our own, Frank Noonan!)
Kenny was fortunate to be an assistant at Okemos High school helping that team make the final four in the state playoffs before returning to Kalamazoo in 2011 to finish college at Western Michigan University and join JD Kalleward behind the bench at his alma mater, Portage Northern HS, for the next 15 years.
What other sports did you play growing up?
In addition to Hockey I played baseball and soccer
Fun Fact: If our KOHA Skills Staff had a union, Kenny would 100% be voted its President/player representative.
Coach Rob was born and raised in St. Clair Shores, MI and played youth travel hockey for St. Clair Shores and Midget Minor AAA for the Detroit Falcons before attending Michigan State University.
After graduating from MSU three years ago, Rob moved to Kalamazoo and began coaching with our 2006 K-Wings alongside Head Coach, Mark Ostrander. When asked what he most enjoys about coaching kids, Rob said, "Seeing how happy just being at the rink and playing hockey makes kids."
Aside from hockey, Rob grew up playing baseball, and advocates for kids participating in multiple sports rather than specializing at too young an age.
Bobo, who grew up in the Kalamazoo area and began working with the USA Hockey Coaching Education Program back in 2010, is excited to return to our 18/19 Skills Staff.
A former goaltender, KOHA's Hockey Director, Matt Kakabeeke says this, "Nick and I have coached together for many years both at the high school level and with players participating in select festivals representing Michigan. Nick brings a passion for coaching and player development. His experience as an instructor in the USA Hockey Coaching Education Program has provided him with an extensive knowledge of LTAD and age appropriate training. Having Nick on the ice is a great benefit to our 6U, 7U and 8U players, coaches and families."