Since the infancy of international women’s hockey, Jenny Potter has been a name known by many hockey fans.
Beginning with Team USA’s gold-medal winning Olympic Team in 1998 and being a member of the 2011 gold-medal winning IIHF Women’s World Championship team years later, Potter’s name is synonymous with hockey success.
At the 2017 USA Hockey Tier I Girls National Championships, however, there’s another Potter that’s in the hockey spotlight. Rob Potter, the husband of Jenny Potter, is a head coach in the 19U division with the Gilmour Academy Lancers from Gates Mills, Ohio. In just his six month on the job, Rob has led the school to its first-ever Nationals appearance.
After Gilmour’s last coach left for a college job, the school’s team was left coachless. Then, in October, Potter was hired as the team’s head coach.
Potter admits he didn’t know much about the program when he took a job. But little did he know, he was inheriting a group that was ready to prove themselves.
“The coaching change kind of energized our girls,” said Team Manager Rebecca Heller. “The group worked so hard. I’ve never seen a group so razor-focused.”
The attitude of this team led to success and ultimately the Mid-American district championship.
But in the time following the Lancers’ district championship, there were a few challenges. The school’s spring break fell between the district and national tournaments. This meant some girls would be gone for trips and other activities and would miss out on preparation time. A number of Gilmour players also battled the flu prior to the team’s Nationals appearance.
With his team facing this much adversity, Potter said it made the Lancers’ first game against Belle Tire a difficult one to prepare for. It ultimately showed in a 4-1 loss.
One day later, however, Gilmour had its chance for redemption. The Lancers got their first-ever Nationals victory by jumping out to a 3-0 lead and eventually defeating the Madison Capitals 3-1.
“Getting that win was a huge confidence builder for us,” Potter said. “I could definitely see that the girls were intimidated in game No. 1. But they rallied nicely and defeated a really good Madison team.”
Unfortunately for Gilmour, that was its only victory of the tournament. The Lancers fell to the California Wave in their preliminary round finale, meaning the team’s season came to an end.
While this wasn’t the outcome the team was hoping for, a Nationals appearance is a step in the right direction for a school that has strong support for hockey. Gilmour has recently built two hockey rinks along with a weight room facility. The community has also supported the team by holding a pep rally prior to the team leaving for Michigan.
“The school has definitely made a commitment to hockey,” Potter said. “Making it to Nationals is a huge step in the right direction. They want to be known as a hockey school.”
As team manager, Heller is also excited about the direction Gilmour is headed.
“For years, we’ve had good hockey but haven’t been able to get over that hump,” she said. “This year helped put us on the map. A lot of people will now know the name Gilmour who didn’t before.”
|Youth Tier I (14U)||Scottsdale, Arizona||Arizona Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier I (15-year-olds only)||Scottsdale, Arizona||Arizona Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier I (16U, 18U)||Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania||Pittsburgh Penguins Elite||April 6-10, 2017|
|Girls Tier I||Rochester/Macomb, Michigan||HoneyBaked Hockey Club||April 6-10, 2017|
|Women's A, B, C||Rochester/Macomb, Michigan||HoneyBaked Hockey Club||April 6-9, 2017|
|High School||Cleveland, Ohio||Cleveland Suburban Hockey||March 22-26, 2017|
|Girls Tier II||Troy, Michigan||Troy Youth Hockey Association||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (14U)||Coral Springs, Florida||Florida Panthers Ice Den||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (16U)||Frisco, Texas||Texas Amateur Hockey||April 6-10, 2017|
|Youth Tier II (18U)||Lansing, Michigan||Lansing Hockey Club||April 6-10, 2017|
|Sled||San Jose, California||Sharks Ice||April 6-9, 2017|
|Adult Rec Men's||Wesley Chapel, Florida||Florida Hospital Center Ice||April 20-23, 2017|
|Adult Rec Women's||Ellenton, Florida||Ellenton Ice and Sports Complex||April 27-30, 2017|