Our Instructors

Each year other coaches are brought in from all over the country to ensure the best experiece for our athletes.  Most of our instructors have played professional hockey and all come to the Black Hills with some sort of coaching or teaching background. We are pleased to introduce you to some of the BHHA coaches of past and present.

Riley Weselowski
Lead Instructor
Defenseman/Asst. Coach-Wichita ECHL

The BHHA is led by the CHL's 2012 Defenseman of the Year, Riley Weselowski. Riley is a current professional hockey player/assistant coach with the Wichita Thunder of the ECHL.  He played for the Rapid City Rush for 10 seasons and helped the team win the 2010 Ray Miron Presidents Cup. Riley's background includes playing Division 1 college hockey at Bemidji State University where he earned All-CHA honors his junior season. He has also played with the Idaho Steelheads, Florida Everblades and Cincinnati Cyclones of the ECHL. Riley has over 20 years experience as an instructor and has worked with athletes of all ages. Weselowski, his wife Kelly and son Collin call Wichita KS home.

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Tory Dalbec
Goalie Coach 19/20
Devenir Goaltenders-Minnesota

Tory has been coaching with Devenir Goaltenders (Devenirgoaltenders.com) based out of Minneapolis, Minnesota since 2017 and began working with Black Hills Hockey Academy in 2019. He grew up in Edina, MN playing both hockey and football and after high school was recruited to play football for North Dakota State University where he went on to win 2 D1 FCS national championships before his career was cut short due to injury. His favorite thing about coaching is getting to share my passion for the game of hockey and the opportunity to teach and develop young goaltenders.

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Brooks Mitzel
Instructor 18/19/20
Forward-Iowa State

Brooks Mitzel grew up in Rapid City where he played for the Rushmore Thunder and graduated from Stevens High School. He currently plays hockey for Iowa State University. When Brooks left the Rushmore Thunder he played one year of AAA hockey with the Sioux Falls Jr. Stampede before joining the Gillette Wild of the North American 3 Hockey League. After he completed junior hockey he played a year of Division 3 hockey at Salem State University before transferring to Iowa State. 

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Zach Bender
Instructor 18/19/20
Forward-Rushmore Thunder

Zach played four years as a forward for the Rushmore Thunder Boys Varsity. He helped lead the team to a state championship in 2018 and a third place finish in the 2018 Division 1 High School National Tournament. Zach served as captain of the varsity team in 2018-2019. He participated as a student in the Black Hills Hockey Academy camp from 2012 to 2016 and likes to share the great experience he had in the camp and his love for hockey with Black Hills Hockey Academy students. Currently, Zach is attending the South Dakota School of Mines and is pursuing a degree in Biomedical Engineering. 

Danny Battochio
Goalie Coach
Goaltender-Rapid City Rush

Battochio recently retired after his 7th season as a professional goaltender with the Rapid City Rush. He is now a goalie coach for the Rush. Batsy was part of the CHL Ray Miron Championship winning team in 2010 and took home Rookie of the Year honours for the season. Danny spent the 2013/2014 season playing for Beibarys Atyrau hockey club of the Kazakhstan professional ice hockey league. His college career was played at St. Francis Xavier University in the Canadian CIS earning him a BA Advanced Major in Social Criminal Justice. Battochio has over 15 years of instructing in the development of goaltenders of all ages.

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Tyler Poulsen
Instructor 2019
Forward-Worcester Railers

Poulsen has been playing professional hockey since 2018. He has made stops in Allen, Rapid City and most recently played with the Worcester Railers of the ECHL. Coach "Chipsy" spent 3 years studying at the University of Alabama Huntsville and spends his summers in his home state of Colorado.

Jeremy Gates
Instructor 15/16/19
Defenceman-Pensacola Ice Flyers

Jeremy Gates recently retired after his fourth season of professional hockey. Before “Coach Gator” (as he is known by the kids in camp) was 20 years old, his Canadian Junior team had already won two league championships. Following junior hockey he went to Neumann University where he won the NCAA Division III National Championship, and graduated with a degree in Sports Management. Since turning pro, Gates has seen time in the ECHL, CHL, and SPHL (where his Ice Flyers won back to back league Championships). Jeremy has provided camp instruction for various hockey schools in the past, and his outgoing and energetic personality make him a favorite instructor year after year. 

Michael Young
Instructor 2016
Defenseman- Rapid City Rush

Currently in his 3rd professional season, Michael Young has played the last two and a half seasons with the Rapid City Rush of the ECHL.  Before coming to the Rush, he played 3 seasons of Junior A hockey in Flin Flon Manitoba.  He followed that up by playing four years of NCAA Division 1 hockey for the University of Nebraska at Omaha where he studied Criminal Justice.

Connor Ward
Instructor 13/14/15/16/17
Forward

A Rapid City native, and one of the BHHA's most veteran instructors, Coach Ward currently plays for Eastern Washington University of the BCIHL.  After finishing his final year of AAA hockey with the Rough Riders of the Tier 1 Elite League in Colorado, Ward went on to play junior hockey in British Columbia, Canada. Connor graduated from Rapid City Stevens High School in 2012.

Jamie Vanderveeken
Instructor 13/14
Defenseman

Jamie VanderVeeken played 8 years of professional hockey, retiring as a member of the Brampton Beast. He was a part of the Rapid City Rush organization for 3 years, and helped the team win the Ray Miron Presidents cup along side head instructor Riley Weselowski. Jamie has experience teaching the game of hockey at all levels and previously ran a camp of his own back in his Canadian hometown.  

Travis Wight
Instructor 13/14
Defenseman

Travis Wight played 7 years of professional hockey and retired as a member of the Wichita Thunder. Travis has an bachelor's degree in Kinesiology and Physcial Education and a Master's degree in Education: Curruculum and Instruction. He spent the first three seasons of his professional career with the ECHL's Idaho Steelheads He played in 70 games as a rookie for Idaho in 2006-07 helping the Steelheads to the Kelly Cup Championship.

Scott Brannon
Instructor 2015
Forward- Dundee Stars

Scott played 199 games for the Rapid City Rush in 3 and a half seasons and went on to suit up in the EIHL in Scotland for the Dundee Stars. Before turning pro, coach Brannon played two seasons at the St. Francis Xavier University and was an instructor at the Stfx hockey camp during that time.  Brannon also has a 2011 QMJHL title to his name, and participated in the Memorial Cup Canadian Junior Tournament in Brandon Manitoba.