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Potter’s impact felt early at Gilmour

By Ryan Williamson, 04/08/17, 3:45PM MDT


Husband of former Olympian thriving in first season as school’s head coach

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.” 

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2017 USA Hockey National Championship Sites

Division Location Host Dates
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