Hockey Operations


During 2017-18 season, the Grand Rapids Blades initiated a Strategic Planning Committee that set out to define and advance the Grand Rapids Blades with mission and vision that stretches out over the next five years. The committee consisted of a cross-section of people involved in our association including parents, coaches, and board members.

To guide our process, we closely followed a structure put in place by USA Hockey. The efforts began with an association-wide survey which was tabulated and analyzed by our strategic planning committee. The committee spent countless hours meeting to come up with our core values, our mission statement, and our vision. As a board, we approved the mission, vision, and core values that the committee presented in February 2018.

Evaluating the association's current staff and structure versus the demands of the organization and our current/future needs was an outcome of the strategic planning work that was completed. 

Here is a brief introduction of the outstanding individuals selected to fill these critical roles.

Mike Petrusma

Managing Director


Mike brings an impressive resume having been involved in hockey at nearly every level from learn-to-skate to the collegiate ranks. He has also been involved in other sports as a coach and organizer at numerous levels. Mike will oversee all operations of the Blades Organization and place a special emphasis on growing our U8 program. Mike is a familiar face at our rink as he currently serves as the Head Coach for Calvin College's ACHA Division 1 hockey team as well as the Eagles Ice Center Operations Manager. Mike's knowledge of hockey and of youth sports in general, coupled with his approachable personality, will have a positive impact on all aspects of the Blades Organization.

Alec Slazas

Director U8 and Player Development


Coach Alec Slazas joined the Blades organization in 2019 as a player development coach for the Cross-Ice level. In the following seasons, he was an assistant coach with the Blades Squirt AA team, then Joined the Player Development coaching staff to learn from the former Player Development Director, Jake Endicott. 

Alec grew up in the Chicagoland/Northwest Indiana area. Growing up, rinks close to home were hard to come by, so travel and dedication from him and his family was high. He started playing hockey at Squirts in South Bend, Indiana, then played youth travel with the Midwest Blackbirds organization (formally Midwest Maniax) in St. John, Indiana. In High School, he split his time playing U18 AA travel with the Joliet Jaguars in Joliet, Illinois, where he was an Assistant Captain, a season in the Minnesota Juniors Hockey League, and high school hockey in South Bend, Indiana. Then, while attending Engineering school at Purdue University, he played 4 years of College ACHA club hockey, where he was in team leadership roles as Public Relations Lead, Head of Operations, and Vice President of the Purdue Hockey team student board.

Alec is committed to developing young players in the skills, attitude, and hockey sense that he believes are critical to becoming successful in their later years. He enjoys working with players on an individual basis while motivating players about the importance of the team aspect of the game. He brings leadership, motivation, and enthusiasm to every practice, and strives to be a strong role model for every player he coaches.

John Cassady

Director of Goaltender Development


USA Hockey Silver Certified Goaltending Instructor

John Cassady has been with the Blades organization since the 2019-2020 season. In 2023 he took over the Director of Goaltending position in the program. During his time with us, John worked with the 2010s (squirt and peewee AA) and 2008s (bantam A and AA). Before joining the Blades, John grew up in Grand Rapids and played travel hockey here in town and in Lansing. He worked and coached with Jason Muzzatti, current Goaltender Development Coach for the Carolina Hurricanes for ten years. John then went to Purdue University where he played four years for the Boilermakers. His senior season, they won the conference championship and John won the goalie of the year award. 

John is excited to work with the goalies in our organization to develop the next generation of goalies, and refine their skills. Movement, positioning, and flexibility will be the main points of focus that John and the goalies will work on. He believes in and expects hard work from his goalies, but at the end of the day it is all about growing the love of the game. John’s coaching philosophy can be summed up by the simple phrase “have fun, stop pucks”. 

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