COACHING STAFF

JAY WITTA

OWNER / GM / HEAD COACH / USA Hockey Level 4 Certified Coaching Certification

Coach Witta is in his 8th year of Junior A’ hockey and 6th year with the Blue Ox. Jay’s career junior A’ coaching record is 278-98-11 and he has helped guide the Blue Ox to three National Tournament appearances in the first five years. Witta has also helped promote over 20 players to the TIER 2 LEVEL as well as 30+ players onto NCAA and ACHA college hockey.

Prior to purchasing the Blue Ox, Witta had been the head coach of the NA3HL’s Junior A’ hockey team – the New Ulm Steel. Witta completed a 67-33-10 two year record with a Silver Cup semifinal appearance 2015/16 and a Western Division playoff final loss to the eventual National Champion, Granite City 2016/17.  Jay worked daily with the Steel ownership in all aspects of the business – budgets, league communications, recruiting, trades, facilities, core value accountability, parent communication and player advancement. 2017 is when he, Bruce and Crystal Boudreau decided to Purchase a United States Premier Hockey League franchise in the Midwest West Division. The rest is history.

Jay is a Minnetonka, Minnesota native, played three years for the Minnetonka Skippers from 1985-87 where he was named captain his Senior season and helped guide the Skippers to their first ever Lake Conference Championship and was honored with an All-Conference Team selection. Witta was recruited by Herb Brooks at St. Cloud State University in 1987 to play on the inaugural SCSU Division 1 squad. After entertaining offers from various Division 1 & 3 programs across the country, Witta chose to stay close to home and attend St. Cloud State University as a walk on defenseman. Witta also played Junior A’ hockey in Humboldt, Saask. for the Broncos (SJHL) before an undetected heart issue caused him to retire and return back to Minnesota. Witta has been coaching for the past 25 seasons and served on the Minnetonka Youth Hockey Board for 2 years. Witta resides in Minnetonka with his wife Sara and their four boys. Bennett, Brody, Brooks and Griffin..

CONTACT JAY

ERIC THOMPSON

ASSISTANT COACH | USA Hockey Level 4 Certified Coaching Certification

Coach Thompson grew up playing hockey in North Dakota, and went on to obtain a Bachelor’s Degree in Sports Management/Coaching at St. Cloud State University. For the past 20 years, Coach Thompson has coached hockey at the College, Junior, High School, 18U, 16U, and Youth levels. In addition, he has lead teams to ACHA College Nationals, 16U AA Nationals, and 2 High School State Championships. Since moving back to Minnesota, he has been coaching with Minnesota High Performance & Tier 1.

Coach Witta has this to say about Eric: “I look forward to co-piloting this years team with Eric as he embraces our ‘player’s first’ culture and Blue Ox Core Values. His energy and passion for developing players will be contagious within our organization. I look forward to hopefully working with him the next 5 years.’’

Eric currently resides in Zimmerman, MN with his wife (Erica), daughter (Nia), and son (Tate)

MARK SCHIFFMAN

GOALIE COUNSELOR | USA Hockey Level 4 Certified Coaching Certification

Mark is a lifelong rink rat who grew up playing goaltender in the Bloomington Jefferson youth program. He is USA Hockey Level 4 certified and has more than 25 years experience coaching youth and high school goaltenders. Schiffman has three sons and resides in Waconia with his wife Kelly.

By day, Schiffman is executive director of a non-profit association focused with more than 30 years of public affairs and government relations experience. He’s a University of Minnesota-Duluth graduate and earned an MA from Hamline University.

TRAINING STAFF

KATIE McDONOUGH

POWER SKATING INSTRUCTOR

Katie was skating as soon as she was walking and some might argue that she skates better than she walks! Skating is in her blood. Katie comes from a very big hockey family but chose toe picks and tu-tus over hockey equipment and a stick. It’s a good thing she did it ensured that everyone knew just how important skating was and learned the right way to skate.

Katie had an exciting competitive figure skating career starting at 3 years old that spanned over 15 years and has been a power skating coach for close to 20 years. Diane Ness (Pro Edge Power Skating Founder) was Katie’s first figure skating coach before she made the switch to hockey full time and Katie worked under Diane Ness as an instructor for 15 years. She learned from the best in the business! Katie has extensive skating experience teaching a strong, balanced, and focused power skating session. Improvement is the overall goal, she helps gain this by introducing, developing, and refining players skating. Katie brings clear understanding of skaters edges and control of their bodies in the game. Her goal is to provide the proper techniques and skills to provide skaters the necessary tools to become powerful, fluid skaters/players. Katie works with teams individually, associations, and offers private lessons.

Katie is married to her husband Nick and their two children. When Katie isn’t on the ice she’s usually still at the rink taking in a game. When she can pull herself away from the rink you’ll find her at the cabin, taking in anything outdoors, her nose in a book or enjoying anything that involves her family and friends!

Contact Katie (612)242-8091 or kmoemn@gmail.com

RUSS BARONE

SKILLS INSTRUCTOR

Russell Barone began playing organized hockey at the age of 5. From that point on he played for a number of youth organizations including the Romeoville Huskies (CSDHL AA), Orland Park Vikings, Chicago Fury (Tier 1 elite league AAA), and the Chicago Hawks (CSDHL AA). After youth hockey, he continued on to play three years of junior hockey in Minnesota and Wisconsin.

After his last year of junior hockey, he committed to play NCAA Hockey for the Gustavus Adolphus Golden Gusties in St. Peter, Minnesota. Outside of his playing career, he is a proud graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College with a Bachelors in Exercise Physiology. From 2020 – 2021 he worked at Gilmour Academy as the Lancers U16/Prep assistant coach/skills coach/strength coach.

During the 2021 season he worked for the Odessa Jakalopes of the NAHL as an assistant coach/skills coach/and strength coach. Russell is now a personal trainer at lifetime fitness and owns Dynamic Hockey Development, LLC.

Welcome aboard the Blue Ox train Russ!

ALLYSON OBERNOLTE, LAT, ATC

ALLINA HEALTH ORTHOPEDICS / ATHLETIC TRAINER

Allyson graduated from the University of Minnesota Duluth in 2015 with a Bachelor’s of Applied Science in Athletic Training and a minor in Public Health Education and Promotion. She has experience working with youth, high school, adult amateur, and NCAA division I, II, and III athletic events. The sports that she has worked with include hockey, basketball, wrestling, gymnastics, lacrosse, baseball, softball, track and field, football, soccer volleyball, cross country, and mountain bike racing.

Allyson has been with Allina since April 2021. She had been working for Blue Line Medical Services, LLC for a little over two years. She works at youth, high school, and adult amateur athletic events all over the Twin Cities metro area.

Allyson is from and currently resides in Saint Paul. When she is not working she enjoys long walks with her dog, Miley, plays tennis, goes to concerts, and likes to check out local breweries.

MARKETING & GAMEDAY SUPPORT STAFF

CARTER MASLOSKI

HEAD OF GAME DAY OPERATIONS

“Mazz” is going on his 3rd year with the Minnesota Blue Ox and the title of Head of Game Day Operations.  Carter, Fred and Travis lead the charge and energy for our Game Day Ops and put a lot of time and thought into entertaining our awesome family friendly crowds!  Carter is an avid sports fan who has always loved to watch the game of hockey, his younger brother Hayden is one of the Blue Ox all time leading scoring leaders as well. 

Carter just graduated college with his Associate Arts Degree in Business and will pursue an emphasis in Sports Management. His goal is to someday make a career in professional sports marketing.  Be sure to reach out and say hi to Carter during a game, he loves meeting our Blue Ox faithful. 

CONTACT CARTER

FRED CRIMMINS

GAME DAY MILITARY VETERAN

Fred played hockey as a youth and was a Goalie. He was a practice goalie for Massasoit Community College in Brockton, Massachusetts. After not getting anywhere with hockey, Fred enlisted in the Air Force where he became a helicopter mechanic and was selected to be a Flight Engineer. Fred retired from the Air Force in 1996 after 21 years. After which he immediately got back into hockey and the rest is history.

Hockey Coach, 1996 – 2010 North Metro Youth Hockey Association, Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Head Coach, Boy’s Junior Varsity Ice Hockey 2007-2010
North Metro Stars High School Co-op Team
Head Coach, Boy’s Junior Gold Ice Hockey 2007-2011
Totino Grace High School
Certified USA Hockey Coaching Level 4
Bachelor’s Degree, Occupational Education, Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, Illinois, 1982
Graduate, West Bridgewater High School, West Bridgewater, Massachusetts, 1973

Be sure to stop Freddie at a game (if you can) and say hello!  He loves meeting all of our awesome Blue Ox fans!

TRAVIS BENNETT

GAME DAY MR. MICROPHONE

Originally from Southeast Missouri, Travis moved to Minnesota at a young age and instantly fell in love with Hockey. He grew up playing hockey in the Blaine hockey association before hanging up the skates to play D2 football at Upper Iowa University.

After a year of playing football at UIU, Travis decided to leave school and join the United States Army. Enlisting as an UAV Mechanic. Travis spent 7 years in Army aviation before being medically separated in 2019. Travis was coaching youth hockey in Coon Rapids prior to joining the Blue Ox. You can now catch Travis at every Blue Ox game with his Fiancé Alicia, step son Leland and son Brooks.

Travis has a massive love for the game that gave him so much as a child and loves getting to interact with fans off all ages at games. When he isn’t chasing Brooks and Leland around the house or running around the stands at CRIC, Travis enjoys Twins, Wild and Vikings games, golfing and playing hockey for the Med City Warriors and Dallas Warriors.

Be sure to stop Travis at a game (if you can) and say hello!  He loves meeting all of our awesome Blue Ox fans!

TED MILLER

PUBLIC ADDRESS ANNOUNCER | USPHL LEAGUE STATS

With almost no public address experience, Ted Miller fell into the position as the Voice of the Blue Ox after filling in a for few games 2 seasons ago. With a raspy, bellowing voice and quick-witted quips, Ted provides a unique facet to the Blue Ox game day experience.

Ted and his wife Jane have billeted various Blue Ox players over the past 5 years as well. Ted is currently a bank investigator and a retired FBI agent.

Be sure to stop Ted at a game (if you can) and say hello!  He loves meeting all of our awesome Blue Ox fans!

JON HEATH

SOUND AND SCOREBOARD

Jon grew up in the Denver area, and attended Iowa State University on a baseball scholarship. He graduated with a Finance degree and has spent the last 30 plus years building a successful career in Sales & Account Management. He also has spent the last 20 plus years coaching both youth football and baseball, and is currently the varsity pitching coach for Andover High School since 2018.

Jon is married to his beautiful wife and strong supporter Deanna. Between them they have 6 children, one of whom is a Blue Ox Alumni – Hayden Masloski, and another is also very involved in the Blue Ox family – Carter Masloski. It is through these two young men that Jon has developed a love of hockey and the Blue Ox.

Jon is entering his first full year with the Blue Ox running the sound and scoreboard, after stepping in midway through the 2021-2022 season, and is looking forward to another great season ahead!

ERIC WICKLUND

TEAM PHOTOGRAPHER

Eric Wicklund joined the Blue Ox as the team’s photographer during our first season – and hasn’t looked back since. He also recommended his buddy, and our other photographer John Sumner as well.

Eric’s “day job” is in technical sales engineering. He is currently Sales Engineer Director for tech company Arctic Wolf. Eric is a life-long Twin Cities’ resident and hockey lover. He has been a sports photographer for over 13 years with a passion for Hockey, MMA, Kickboxing and every activity the kids are in.

When he’s not working, biking, or taking photos, he enjoys spending time with his family (Wife Renee, kids Kayla & Tori)

JOHN SUMNER

TEAM PHOTOGRAPHER

John has been a photography enthusiast since he was young. After a short time as a professional photographer, it is now one of his hobbies he is deeply passionate about and active in pursuing. John’s photography consists mostly of his children playing sports, but loves taking pictures of waterfalls, landscapes, cityscapes, night shots and underwater wildlife when he has the opportunity.

He has been attending the John Beargrease Race intermittently since the 1990’s. John loves watching the athleticism of the sled teams and capturing their power and grace. Being a part of this event has been deeply rewarding.

John currently resides in the Twin Cities, MN. Most of his free time is spent with his wife, two children and three dogs. He enjoys travelling and documenting his experience with his camera.

Contact:
john@sumnershots.com

TIM BROWN

GAME DAY HELPER

‘Browner”, Tim never played hockey growing up, but picked it up in his adult years as the game always intrigued him. The position he choose is intriguing as well.  Goalie.  He started coaching 4 years ago for the Coon Rapids Youth Hockey Association to share his passion for the game. He joined the Blue Ox year one to help with our game day festivities. He loves the high energy at the Blue Ox games and how involved the team is in the community.  Getting to know the players on a personal level is pretty cool as well, especially the players from Europe!

In his real life, Tim has worked at Federal in Anoka for 1o+ years and enjoys spending time camping with his wife Michelle in their new RV during the Summers and Fall.

Stop and say hello to Tim at the next Blue Ox game, he enjoys getting to know all our the wonderful Blue Ox fans and their families. 

JOE RUHLAND

HOCKEY TV PLAY BY PLAY

Joe Ruhland an experienced Momentum Strategist and play-by-play announcer, brings a contagious energy and excitement to each game he calls. He has an extensive radio and tv portfolio that started as a student at St. Cloud State University. The youngest of ten, in a family that grew-up in southwest Minnesota, when Joe was not playing sports, he spent much of his calling games to himself in the living-room, when his older siblings were not watching American Bandstand.

Following college Joe spent his next five years working in Colorado as a Play-by-Play announcer/PR & Media Relations Director with the New York Rangers organization and a consultant with Team USA Hockey in Colorado Springs.

While with the Rangers during his three-year stint, he was key resource in the start-up of their IHL top-development team in Denver, which also included hosting a hockey talk show on KBYG-AM, a 50,000 watt sports network. Phil Esposito was the GM of the New Yorks Rangers during this time and led the league with 48 recall and reassignments throughout the 1988-89 season. Marcel Dionne, Ron Duguay, Mike Richter, Tony Granato, Peter Laviolette were a few of the players that circulated between Denver and New York.

It was during his time with Team USA Hockey, Joe became more familiar with leadership and neuroscience performance and the impact of MPO, Mindset Predicts Outcomes training implemented at the Olympic Training Center for many athletes.

Also, while in Colorado, Joe would call college football games for PrimeSports network as well as Public Address announcer at McNichols Sports Arena for NHL exhibition games and pre-Olympic Team USA Hockey games hosted in Denver.

Joe returned to Minnesota when he took a role with Medtronic in CRM Sales and Leadership Training, which also allowed him to continue enhance his broadcasting skills over the course of the past couple of decades.

Currently, Managing Partner of YourTime Performance Agency, he has continues to strategize and lead leadership and sales launches for medical, healthcare, software companies and Momentum based performance initiative for sports franchises and businesses as well.

You may hear him during telecast for QCTV sporting events or college sports across the radio waves. He continues his passion for hockey and in his call as he has the ability to recognize when key momentum-based moments are about to take place during our Blue Ox games.

Listening and catch the Joementum this season during his Blue Ox Hockey broadcast.

DOMINIC LEGO

GAME DAY HELPER

Dom was born and raised in the hometown of the Ox, the beautiful city of Coon Rapids, Minnesota. He has been helping the Blue Ox, going on his 5th season, starting as a High School Intern.  He has done it all – Tickets – Marketing – Chuck A Puck – Mascot – Crowd interaction – Apparel sales and more.  Dom is currently working for Blue Ox sponsor Walser Coon Rapids Nissan as a Sales associate. So if you need some wheels call Dom!

When hockey starts he doesn’t miss a Blue Ox home game. He started with the Blue Ox in their second year as a team working the penalty box here or there, from there it advanced into something he never imagined would be so rewarding. He loves working for the Blue Ox, doing anything he can, and he loves leaving at night knowing that the fans and players had an enjoyable experience. 

Be sure to stop and say hi to Dom at a home game, he loves meeting the Blue Ox fans.

TIM LEACH

GAME DAY SECURITY

Retired from the Postal Service after 30 years – and has since worked security for various sporting and music events events here around the Twin Cities!  “Leacher” was raised in South Saint Paul played and coached youth ice hockey for many years. Now he enjoys watching the greatest sport in the world and is an avid Blue Ox fan!

Let’s Go Boys!  Be sure to stop Tim at a game and say hello!  He loves meeting all of our awesome Blue Ox fans!

MATT BRUGGER

OXMOBILE COACH DRIVER

Meet Matt Brugger! Owner of Arbor Tree Service and Minnesota Blue Ox coach bus driver!

Matt is an avid Green Bay Packer Fan and now Blue Ox super fan!

Be sure to reach out say hi to Matt if you see him around! We look forward to he and Tony DeGroat joining our club this season!