2023-24 COACHING STAFF
PAUL STRAND - U18AAA AND U12AA
The Founder of the program will once again return as the Head Coach of the U18 AAA team as it enters its second season. Strand navigated the first year team to a respectable .500 record. Strand began coaching in the Greensboro Stars program in 2002 and this will mark his 23 season coaching youth and college hockey in a head coaching capacity.
Strand grew up in Fort McMurray Alberta. He played youth hockey in the house leagues until he was 13 when he made the Bantam B travel team. He went on to play Tier 2 Junior in the Alberta Junior Hockey League. From there Strand played from 1992-1997 at the University of Alberta for the Golden Bears. This is the genesis of the mascot and name of the NC Golden Bears.
After finishing college, Strand played parts of 8 years in the Minor leagues including, the ECHL, CHL and the German Bundesliga. After getting injured in Greensboro Strand embarked on his coaching career.
Strand was hired by the Carolina Hurricanes after the 2004-05 lockout and was instrumental in branding the Raleigh Youth Hockey association as the Jr Hurricanes and bringing AAA to that program.
Strand coached the Quebec Pee-wee team from 2006-2011, winning the tournament in 2011, with future NCAA players Nick Hale of Holy Cross and NHLer Riley Stillman.
Strand moved back to Canada to start a college hockey program in his hometown and after getting that program started and successful, Strand missed North Carolina and moved back to the Raleigh Area, to get married, start a family and start the NC Force/NC Golden Bears program with a goal of helping kids reach the same dreams he wanted to attain.
MATTHEW STRAND - U18 GREEN AND U13AA
Strand began his coaching career while attending the University of Alberta and took an assistant coaching role with the South Side Athletic Club of Edmonton. While in this program Strand helped coach future NHL players Vernon Fiddler and Jason Chimera.
Later on Strand moved on to coach the Spruce Grove Regals Junior B program taking those teams to Provincial championships multiple times and to a championship on one occasion.
Strand has been a head coach for multiple teams in the NC Golden Bears program each season. He has a talent for teaching the game to players of great travel experience or coming from the house league.
Strand played Junior hockey in the Alberta Junior Hockey league after being a standout in Midget Hockey for the Fort Mcmurray Oil Barons. He was an incredibly smart player who also was known for his ability to protect his teammates, coming to the aid of his brother on numerous occasions.
DEVIN WARFIELD - U16 AA AND U16 GREEN
Warfield is a local product. Warfield played in the Junior Hurricanes program and was coached by Paul Strand, first at the Quebec Pee-wee Tournament and then again at the U14 AAA level.
Warfield played College hockey at Division 3 Utica and returned home to join the coaching ranks with the NC Golden Bears. He was thrown into the fire as the head coach of the EHL Golden Bears and did a great job weathering the storm for a team that was severely overmatched. After that team folded Devin joined youth side of the program and was brought along slowly as an assistant coach for multiple teams under Matthew Strand.
During the 2021-22 season Warfield stepped into the pro ranks for the Carolina Thunderbirds of the Federal Prospects Hockey league. Warfield scored 9 points in 11 games proving his ability. However his desire to coach and develop the youth of the Carolinas proved to be a bigger calling.
In 2022-23 Warfield was given the head coach title of the U16AA, after two seasons as an apprentice, and did a phenomenal job leading that team to a CHL championship and holding its own with some AAA programs.
Warfield is a world class skater and has become the premier Powerskating and skills coach in the Raleigh area.
DEAN TILTGEN - U14 AA
Tiltgen grew up in Canada and was a very accomplished hockey player. Tiltgen played 5 season in the Western Hockey League before he moved on to the University of Alberta, also playing with Paul Strand for the Golden Bears. After playing for two seasons, Tiltgen moved on to a professional career that lasted 8 seasons in the East Coast and West Coast hockey Leagues.
Tiltgen Coaches in the Alberta Mens Hockey league for the Stony Plain Eagles prior to relocating to the Raleigh Area with his family. After living in the area for a few years Tiltgen decided he wanted to get back into coaching and took on the head coaching position for the U14AA NC Golden Bears in 2022-23.
Tiltgen's teams outperformed expectations, as he brought his playing career background and non-parent perspective to the club. He is truly an asset to the NC Golden Bears in our development structure.
BOBBY GRAM - U16 GOLD AND 12 GREEN
Bobby is another local product who grew up playing in the now defunct Carolina Eagles and NC Golden Bears after that. Bobby played U16 AAA for the TPH Thunder and then moved on to have a 4 year career in Junior, including the EHL, before succumbing to concussion injuries.
Bobby is very passionate about coaching and works with kids in the Polar Ice league as well as within the NC Golden Bears Program. in 2022-23 Bobby was an assistant coach, under the mentorship of Matthew Strand, for the U16 Gold and U16 Green teams. Many times Bobby took on the head coach role during games including a season ending tournament championship in Hampton Roads.
Bobby will be sharing head coaching duties on two teams this season with Nicholas Sachs.
NICHOLAS SACHS - U16 GOLD AND U12 GREEN
Sachs played youth with Bobby Gram for the now defunct Carolina Eagles and then for the NC Force U16/U18 before playing for the NC Golden Bears EHL Team. After the EHL Bears folded, Sachs played for the Norwich Sea Captains in their inaugural season in the NA3HL.
Sachs moved back and got involved in coaching with the Polar Ice house and then came aboard the NC Golden Bears as an assistant coach for two teams under the mentorship of Matthew Strand, the U16 Gold and U16 Green.
Sachs will be joining Bobby Gram as co-head coaches of the U12 Green and U16 Gold.
AUSTIN FINCH - U14 A
Austin Finch was an original NC Force U16 player during the 2015-2016 season. Finch played 3 seasons of youth hockey before playing both seasons for the NC Golden Bears EHL team. After the team folded Finch was moved onto the Seahawks of the EHL where he got an offer to play Division 3 NCAA at Rivier University in New England.
Finch played one season of Division 3 before moving back to NC and getting into coaching as an assistant coach in 2022-23 for the NC Golden Bears. Finch was mentored by Devin Warfield and is ready to move onto a head coaching position as he enrolls in NC State to play for the IcePack.
Finch will coach one of the U14 A teams.
DAWSON SAVCHENKO - U10 A AND GOALTENDER INSTRUCTOR
Savchenko is another original NC Force player from 2015-2016 season. A goaltender by trade, Savchenko injured his knee early on and his career ended after youth hockey. However Savchenko had an passion for the game and became involved in hockey coaching right from the start.
Savchenko has built himself into the premier goaltending coach in the NC area and has done wonders with many local goalies from correcting flaws of the older more experienced goalies or starting from scratch with kids just learning to play the position.
Savchenko also served as an assistant coach with the 2010 AA team for two years and is loved by all the kids he works with. He is ready to take on a team as a head coach while maintaining his position as the NC Golden Bears Goaltending instructor.
MIKE LLOYD - U12 AA
Mike Lloyd a native of Chicago, Illinois has been playing hockey for over 30 years. Mike is a USA Hockey Level 4-Certified Coach and has been coaching for over five years with AA travel hockey coaching experience as a head coach and as an assistant. Mike helps create a relaxed and enjoyable learning environment and is an excellent communicator and outstanding instructor with an emphasis on player development; developing good people first, and good hockey players second. Mike says his motivations for coaching are to teach and promote dedication, commitment, hard work, and aptitude for the game, all the while allowing his players to develop passion for the game.
JOHN CIESCO - 14 TBD
John Ciesco has been coaching youth sports for over 15 years, including 7 years assistant and head coaching for Hockey. He played travel hockey in both the Maryland/DC area as well as Raleigh/Durham and played for East Carolina University's Ice Hockey club program.
John is very passionate about coaching, and emphasizes fundamental hockey activities. His focus and coaching philosophy is ensuring players work together as a team; recognizing that successful teams have good communication, consistently work hard, focus on the details and have fun together. John's emphasis on player development is to ensure they are successful in their hockey career.
Last season, John coached the 12U Upper A, Golden Bears (American) team in 2022-2023, which won a tournament championship in Orlando, FL.