Toronto native Rick Emmett brings over 20 years of playing and coaching experience at the elite amateur and professional levels to the University of Georgia club hockey team. Following his playing career, Emmett returned to the hockey world stepping behind the Gladiators’ bench as an assistant coach to start the 2011-12 season. After two years under former Gwinnett head coaches Jeff Pyle and John Wroblewski, Emmett was promoted to the head job to begin the 2013-14 campaign and spent 89 games over the course of two seasons with the Gladiators.
Eric Linkowski, native of Fairfield, Connecticut, has over 30 years of experience in ice hockey, including a seven-year coaching stint with John Jay High School in Brewster, New York. During that time he earned Coach of the Year honors twice and won the league championship. Prior to coaching, Linkowski had a professional playing career that spanned over seven seasons from the CHL to ECHL levels, including stints with the Macon Whoopee and South Carolina Stingrays, two teams familiar to many hockey fans in the state of Georgia. He tallied over 60 points in 169 games during his professional career.
Chris Copelli, a native of Norcross, previously played for the Ice Dogs from 2005-2010 when he was an undergraduate at Georgia, graduating with a Bachelor’s Degree in Economics with a Minor in Religion. A captain his senior year, Copelli led the Ice Dogs to their second 10-plus win season in three seasons, including a clean three-game sweep over in-state rival, Georgia Tech, the most recent time the Ice Dogs have swept the annual three meetings of Clean Old Frozen Hate with the Jackets. Following his senior year, Copelli went behind the bench as an assistant coach helping guide the Ice Dogs to a second consecutive 10-plus win season, marking the first time the club achieved that feat since the 2004-05 and 2005-06 seasons. Prior to, during, and following his Ice Dogs playing career, Copelli has coached youth hockey at a variety of levels in the Atlanta area, including coaching with the Atlanta Phoenix Bantam and Midget AA club travel hockey teams as well as the Milton/Cambridge High School hockey club. Copelli also worked with the former NHL’s Atlanta Thrashers Hockey Development team from 2004-2011.
Beneke returned to the Ice Dogs in 2003, and is now in his 18th season with the Ice Dogs. In addition to his booming voice on the bench and practice ice, “Bene” brings a variety of experience to the team. Beneke played Junior semi-pro hockey in the Midwest, and then attended University of Massachusetts. Steve began his coaching with the Jr. Capitals in Washington, D.C. in 1990-93. Steve then moved west to work for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks NHL franchise for three seasons before moving to Georgia. Although Steve’s hockey playing experience lies between the pipes as a goaltender, he assists with all facets of the game, and boasts a 5-2-2 record as the head skipper behind the bench. For many years Steve has been an emotional leader with a big heart on the Dogs coaching staff, on and off the ice.
Kenny Day, better know as “Sarge” is in his first year with the Ice Dogs and will serve as the team’s General Manager. Day, a native of the Chicago area, retired from the U.S. Army as a Master Sergeant and has over 30 years of service as an Army paratrooper. He has been involved with club hockey for over two decades and brings a lot of experience with him . In addition to coaching and serving in administrative positions for several ACHA teams, he was the first commissioner of the SECHC where he has created a highly competitive league with SEC teams consistently competing at the ACHA National Championships .