skip navigation

Our Coaches

Meet the 2020-2021 Thunder Coaches


Interested in becoming a Union Thunder coach? Click the link above to contact Director Matt Anderson.


Matt Anderson

Coach Matt Anderson has been coaching for the youth hockey programs at Union Sports Arena for several years and is currently the Hockey Director. Coach Matt is the Founder and Director of the Union Thunder Limited-Travel Hockey Program. Coach Matt is also the New York Rangers' 2019 Emile Francis Award winner.

Coach Matt played youth hockey with the NJ Devils Youth Hockey and Wildcats Junior Hockey programs. He was a four-year varsity player, 2006 an All-State Defensemen, and a 2004 State Champion for Seton Hall Prep. He also played college hockey for four years at New York University. He coached two seasons with Seton Hall Prep and is currently the Varsity Coach for Governor Livingston High School.


JJ Hoeffler

Coach JJ Hoeffler is the Union Thunder Girls Director and is in his fourth season with the club. At the youth level, he played for Cranford Hockey Club before playing for the NJ Devils Tier 1 AAA program for six seasons. Coach JJ was a two-time captain at Cranford High School and graduated with over 100 career points.

Prior to joining the Thunder, he was a Head Lacrosse Coach at the NCAA level. Coach JJ currently serves as the Assistant Lacrosse Coach at Cranford High School.


Spencer Truesdell

Coach Spencer Truesdell has been coaching youth programs at Union Sports Arena for several years and has coached Union Thunder for four years. He is currently coaching at Westfield High School as the JV Head Coach and Varsity Assistant Coach of the 2018 Union County Champions.

Coach Spencer played junior hockey with the New Jersey Rockets and was a three-year varsity player and a captain for Seton Hall Preparatory School. He was an All-State and Gordon Conference honorable mention. 


Rebecca Morse

Union Thunder Youth Hockey is excited to welcome Coach Rebecca Morse to the club for the 2020-2021 season. She will serve as Head Coach of the U12 Girls team while also working with our other girls teams and players of all age levels.

Although Rebecca is new to the Thunder, she grew up skating at Union Sports Arena for clinics, public sessions, and family hockey. A Westfield native, her goal is to inspire the next generation of players while growing girls hockey locally in the community that helped shape her as a person, a coach, and a player.

She most recently coached at various clinics throughout New Jersey, including those put on by Westfield Girls Hockey and the Junior Rangers. She also served as Head Coach of the Rhode Island Sting U16/19 girls team upon graduating from Providence College where she played Division I hockey for four years.

Coach Rebecca currently plays professionally for the Metropolitan Riveters of the National Women’s Hockey League. She's a team captain, a 2020 NWHL All-Star, a 2019-2020 NWHL Foundation Award recipient, and a 2018 Isobel Cup champion.


Sam Tafel

Coach Sam Tafel grew up playing youth hockey in New Jersey. Following Sam’s last year of Midget U18, he played junior hockey for the Springfield Pics and eventually the Long Island Junior Wolfpack. Sam would enter Rutgers University to pursue a career in education while playing for Rutgers’ ACHA team. He would also suit up for Seton Hall University as a graduate transfer while obtaining a master’s degree in school counseling. Throughout this time, Sam has head coached at the Bantam AA level, and was recently selected to coach the 2017-2018 U14 Diamond EJEPL All-Star Game.

In addition to coaching, Sam is also the Eastern Scout for the Chicago Cougars in the USPHL. His focus is on development and preparing players for the next level mentally and physically. Coach Sam is currently the Head Coach for Oratory Prep High School.


Brendan Hickey

Coach Brendan Hickey played youth hockey for both Cranford Hockey Club and NJ Devils Youth Hockey. Coach Hickey was a four-year varsity hockey player for Westfield High School and led the team as captain for two years. He has coached high school hockey and lacrosse for over 10 years.

Coach Hickey has been an elementary school teacher for over ten years and currently teaches 3rd grade at McKinley School in Westfield. He also serves as a JV Coach for Westfield High School and 9th grade lacrosse coach for Westfield High School.


Matt Gualtieri

Coach Matt Gualtieri grew up playing youth hockey in New Jersey. He played for Westfield High School and the NJ Devils Junior B team for three years, as well as the Space Coast Blast in the SEHL Junior A league for one year. He has coached for Westfield High School and Governor Livingston High School, and was the Head Coach for Scotch Plains Fanwood High School.

Coach Matt currently coaches for Union Thunder at the Squirt and Peewee levels. He also coaches for the NJ Devils Youth Hockey Club program where he has been for the past several seasons.


Michael Nudo

Coach Michael Nudo joined the Union Thunder Hockey Organization in 2015 to begin coaching his son Michael ‘11. Prior to joining the Thunder family, he was the Head Coach for ALJ High School in Clark, NJ for over a decade starting in 2003 where he recorded over 100 wins, six state tournaments appearance, three county/conference championships, and two division titles.

As a high school coach, Mike worked with many of his student-athletes in guiding them to continue their playing careers beyond high school, helping them play at some great universities and junior programs such as: St. Joseph's College, Hofstra University, Sacred Heart University, Rutgers University, NJ Renegades, and Walpole Express. His connections at the time with regional scouts and coaches have helped his players reach the next level of their playing careers and continue their love and passion for the game.

Before finding himself behind the bench, Mike fell in love with the sport of hockey while playing for Cranford Hockey Club beginning as a Peewee. In high school while playing four years on the varsity team, he received a gold letter, was team captain, was named 1st all-division and 2nd team all-state. Coach Nudo has spent the last four seasons in the Thunder Mites program and with that has over 20 years of coaching experience between high school and youth hockey. He is currently working on his USA Hockey Level 4 Certification.


Matt Setola

Coach Setola is a Level 4 USA Hockey certified coach who has been coaching youth hockey for over 10 years. He grew up locally playing travel hockey for the former Bridgewater Bears and varsity hockey for Morristown Beard. From mini mites through midgets, B through AA, Coach Setola has coached at every level and had success along the way, including a few district and NJYLH playofff runs. His passion lies in developing players mentally and physically, including off-ice development.

As an owner of xHockey Products pro shops, hockey runs deep in Coach Setola's life. When he's not on the ice, he's manufacturing uniforms and gearing players up in the pro shops. Coach Setola has found a mutually beneficial fit within the Union Thunder and is looking forward to further developing our midget program.


Alex Wisniewski

Coach Alex Wisniewski has been with the Thunder since 2016. Prior to joining the club, Alex worked at Township of Union’s TV 34 and attended Kean University where he earned a degree in Communication Media and a Teacher of English Certification for grades P-12. While at Kean, he also worked as a DJ and student engineer of Kean’s WKNJ Radio Station and as a Copy Editor of “The Tower” student newspaper.

Alex is a longtime recreational hockey player and currently plays in a number of men’s leagues including for the Thundercats.


Silio Garcia

Coach Silio Garcia brings over 20 years of coaching experience at the travel and high school levels to the Thunder. Silio has worked with Squirts through Junior programs all over the region. Silio was previously the Hockey Director at Skylands Ice World.

His coaching accomplishments include a state championship at the Squirt B level, three tournament championships at the Peewee B level, District finals at the Bantam A and AA levels, an 8th overall ranking (in the U.S.) at the Bantam AA level, and Silver Sticks Nationals in Canada and Port Huron.


Sal Demarzo


Travis Dilello


Samantha Evans

Coach Samantha grew up playing ice hockey in Woodbridge house leagues, and after a year with the Woodbridge Wolfpack, she switched to girls hockey with the NJ Rockets for her last three years of high school. She recently graduated from the University of Rhode Island with a BS in Mathematics and a minor in Statistics. While at URI, Sam played for their ACHA D1 women’s ice hockey team and was an Academic All-American her sophomore, junior, and senior seasons. Currently, she is in her eighth year as an ice hockey official, her second year coaching with the Union Thunder Girls program, and is a PhD student in New Jersey Institute of Technology’s Applied Mathematics program.


Brian Marino


Alison Grzyb

Originally from Louisville, Kentucky, Alison Grzyb is a passionate teacher of Yoga for Athletes. Ali holds degrees in Kinesiology and Education with a MS in School Counseling from Indiana University. She has adult, teen, and child yoga certifications as well as yoga for athlete training in JOGA and Yogalete.

Ali works with hockey players of all ages from young children to professional teams. She coached JOGA to the NJ Devils for the 2018-2019 season. Thunder players benefit from her wealth of knowledge, positivity, and warmth from the second she starts teaching!

Ali Grzyb

Ali Grzyb

Yoga Instructor - Specializing in Yoga for Young Athletes


Contacts

Please feel free to reach out with any questions or requests for additional information!

Caitlin Anderson

Administrative Director

Matthew Anderson

Hockey Director

JJ Hoeffler

Girls Hockey Director

Coaches have kept sports alive in 2020. Has your kid's coach helped them through this crisis?Nominate them   for a chance to win $2500!