Roger Del Fiacco
Associate Head Coach
Roger Del Fiacco is going into his second year of coaching at GCU. Coach Del Fiacco was born and raised in St. Paul, Minn., and he grew up playing ice hockey for the Phalen Youth Club, St. Casimir’s School and Hill High School as a defenseman. After high school, Coach Del Fiacco entered the U.S. Air Force and served his country during the war in Southeast Asia. Fortunate to not have been in the war zone, he brought his skates as he traveled the world and played for USAF hockey teams.
Coach Del Fiacco got involved in youth hockey after his return to civilian life. For the past 37 years, he was part of the staff that ran the Olympic Development Program in Blaine, Minn., as well 16U and 18U Select hockey programs in the Twin Cities area. He also coached high school hockey in Minnesota, Colorado, Montana and Arizona. In 2009, he helped start and build the Arizona Redhawks junior hockey program as an assistant coach. He remained there until job travel limited his coaching time in 2014. While with the Redhawks, he created and generated statistics for the coaching staff on strengths and weaknesses of player skills during practice and games. He also analyzed game films for team and opponent tendencies.
Coach Del Fiacco and his wife, Cathy, raised five children, four of whom played youth travel and high school hockey. They live in Laveen, Ariz., and their children have families in Minnesota and Arizona. Del Fiacco is excited to be a part of the GCU hockey program.
Jim Nellis is going into his second year as an assistant coach at GCU. Coach Nellis was born in Ontario, Canada. His family moved to Western Canada at a young age and settled in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. He grew up playing at the highest level of hockey in the Saskatchewan minor hockey system.
Coach Nellis played Midget AAA for the Saskatoon Contacts, one of the top midget hockey programs in Canada. He was the leading scorer in his final season for the team. With the goal of earning a scholarship and playing U.S. college hockey, Coach Nellis played the majority of his junior hockey in the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL) for the North Battleford North Stars, the Minot Americans and the Flin Flon Bombers. He was selected by his coaches and peers as either captain or assistant captain of each team in his 20-year career.
His hope of playing U.S. college hockey ended due once he suffered a severe knee injury. He earned a degree from the University of Saskatchewan in finance and marketing in 2000. He has continued to coach and mentor younger developing players and has volunteered his time to coaching in the Saskatoon Minor Hockey Association, as well as scouting for teams in the SJHL and Western Hockey League.
His leadership experience in hockey, business and personal wellness, as well as his in-depth knowledge of the game, are strong assets to the GCU hockey program. After a successful career in wealth management and marketing industries, Coach Nellis returned to school in Arizona to follow his passion – working with people. He is currently pursuing a master’s degree in professional counseling and therapy with an emphasis in coaching at GCU.