Meet Our Coaches

Who are these guys on the ice in the black coats teaching and developing the next generation of hockey players in Santa Rosa? Read below, we think you’ll be impressed!

Become a Flyers Coach!

The Flyers are always looking for qualified coaches to volunteer and bring their love of hockey to a new generation!

Vern Lakusta - Head Coach - Mites 8U

USA Hockey Certified Coach

Coach Vern has a college national championship under his belt, along with holding a very cool and interesting long-standing record for many years, but you’ll have to ask him about that record! 

Born and raised in the small town of Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta in Western Canada, Vern grew up playing Canada's game from a very young age through his early adult years. After 4 years of Junior A hockey in the Alberta Junior Hockey League where he captained the Fort Saskatchewan Traders to the league final in his final season, his playing days ended after a year of college hockey in Edmonton where he was a member of the Canadian College National Championship team Nait Ookpiks (1989-1990).

Vern is eager to give back to the sport that he grew up playing and to share his hockey knowledge with the our players. 

Coach Vern and Coach Jesse are sharing Mites Head Coach duties. See Jesse's bio below.

Josh Gagnebin - Head Coach - Squirts 10U

USA Hockey Certified Coach

Tom Billeter - Head Coach - Peewee 12U

USA Hockey Certified Coach - Level 4

Coach Tom’s coaching career started many years ago with the Flyers when helping to develop a generation of players that have now become adults, many of whom you can see playing for the Santa Rosa Growlers. After coaching a generation of Flyers from Squirts through High School during the late 90’s and early 2000’s, Tom took a coaching hiatus to finish his college hockey playing career. After graduation and moving back to Santa Rosa, Tom turned his focus to coaching at the Collegiate level where he amassed a record of 60-13-3 leading SRJC to 4 straight PCHA championships and making lots of noise at the National level. At one point SRJC was ranked 3rd this side of the Mississippi and eventually went on to compete at the ACHA Regional tournament. Since stepping aside as SRJC’s head coach, Tom returned to coaching the Flyers youth teams. He has coached at the Intro, Mite and Squirt levels over the past 7 years.

Tom’s playing days started as a Mite for the Flyers, peaked at the ACHA Division 2 collegiate level, then took a nosedive to the NHL (Night Hockey League – aka beer league) where he plays weekly with many of his college teammates. 

In addition to coaching and playing, Tom has established college clubs and served as General Manager for SRJC’s hockey team. Upon graduation from high school and winning the Midget A CAHA Championship in 2001 for the Santa Rosa Flyers, Tom realized he and his peers had no options to continue playing hockey locally and with support from Flyers alumni Jonathan Wachter and Carlos Perez they formed the SRJC’s Ice Hockey Club and team. After three years of causing a ruckus with his fellow Flyer alumni at the college level with SRJC, Tom transferred to CSU Sacramento. CSU Sacramento’s ice hockey team was on hiatus and needed resurrecting, Tom provided his experience in forming SRJC’s hockey club/team with CSU Sacramento students and the Hornets’ hockey team was once again alive and Tom was skating with them. The SRJC hockey team went on a four year hiatus when Tom and his peers moved onto four year colleges.

Tom moved home to Santa Rosa after receiving his college degree and was approached by the former Flyers players who he coached in the late 1990’s, requesting Tom to reestablish the SRJC hockey team so they’d have a place to play locally. Tom guided the SRJC team to reformation in the 2010-2011 hockey season and was railroaded into coaching as well. Tom served as General Manager of the SRJC hockey team from 2010 to 2019. The SRJC program is close to Tom’s heart, and he still provides support to the program and assists in raising funds. 

Mike Kovanis - Head Coach - Bantam 14U

USA Hockey Certified Coach - Level 4

Coach Mike has been involved with the game of hockey for over 30 years as a player, coach, referee and administrator. He started off like many others in Northern California during the 1990’s by getting introduced to the sport through roller hockey. While growing up he skated with the North Bay Bandits, who made four national appearances at the NARCH Finals.


During his youth ice hockey years Coach Mike skated for legendary SRJHC Coach Warren Smith and was part of an 18U CAHA championship team in 1999. Following his minor hockey career, Mike went on to skate for the Division 1 ACHA program at Mercyhurst University in Erie, Pennsylvania, winning a league championship in 2004.


Following college, Coach Mike wanted to help the future generations of players and get involved as a coach and mentor. In over 15 years of coaching, he has coached all ages and abilities, from 10u recreational teams to ACHA Collegiate teams. He has made four appearances as a Head Coach at the CAHA Finals with teams at the 14u and 18u levels, including two championships and one runner up. He was also a part of two league championships and a Regional Tournament appearance with the SRJC Polar Bears, one season as an Assistant Coach and one as the Head Coach.


Coach Mike has also been involved with USA Hockey at the State, Regional and National levels. He has served as an evaluator at NorCal Select Camps on numerous occasions. He has also worked as a team leader for USA Hockey select camps including the Pacific District Select Camp in San Jose, CA, the Western Regional Select Camp in Colorado Springs, CO and the National Select 17’s camp in Buffalo, NY. Along with coaching the 12u team this season, Coach Mike also serves as the Director of Coaches for the SRJHC. Anyone with questions or looking for unbiased advice on what hockey path would be best for their child is encouraged to reach out.

Jesse Kofalk - Head Coach - High School, Mites 8U

USA Hockey Certified Coach - Level 5

Coach Jesse brings over 30 years of hockey experience to the Flyers. He played Tier 1 hockey in upstate New York and played his Junior career in the MJHL. He holds over a decade of coaching experience at the Youth, Tier, and High School levels. He is currently the Western Scout for the Chicago Cougars of the Premier Division of the United States Premier Hockey League (USPHL). 

Jesse is passionate about growing the game in California and serves all of Northern California as a skills and development coach. He excels at providing High School and Tier players with skills, development, drive and opportunity to play at the next level and increasing their chances to play collegiately.

Owen Anfinson

USA Hockey Certified Coach - Level 3

Coach Owen’s hockey resume is a geographical wonder and covers many parts of the USA. Owen grew up playing hockey in America’s hotbed for hockey, the State of Minnesota. After youth hockey, Owen played for Northfield High School where he served as team captain in his final season and was an All-Conference student athlete in the 1999-2000 hockey season. Owen played NCAA Division 3 for Gustavus Adolphus College after graduation from high school and continued onto playing at Washington State University at the ACHA collegiate level. Owen’s crafty and sneaky style of play that he developed from his years of college hockey is on display in Snoopy’s Adult Hockey League where he is a standout.

In addition to playing all over the USA, Owen has coached for Universities in Texas and Washington State. Owen was an assistant coach for Washington State University in the late 2000’s before serving three years as assistant coach for the University of Texas, both at the ACHA level. His college coaching experience is an excellent source of knowledge that he brings to the Santa Rosa Flyers youth club. Owen has been coaching with the Flyers since 2019, shortly after moving to Sonoma County.

Zane Newell

USA Hockey Certified Coach - Level 4

Coach Zane brings over 40 years of hockey experience to the Santa Rosa Flyers. A native of Anchorage Alaska, he grew up learning the game of hockey outside at school and with the Boys and Girls Club Youth Hockey Program. He played junior hockey for the South Coast Hockey Program in Orange County, California. During his 20-year career in the United States Coast Guard, Zane traveled around the country where he gained 10 years of youth hockey coaching experience across multiple divisions. He played a major role in the development for hundreds of players in Erie, Pennsylvania with the Erie Youth Hockey Association and the Santa Rosa Junior Hockey Club. Zane is married with a 12-year-old son, Cale and enjoys helping to spread the joy of hockey to others.

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