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Kevin Kaminski leads La Ronge Ice Wolves in new direction

Former Saskatoon Blade Kevin Kaminski is back in Saskatchewan bringing his style of coaching to the La Ronge Ice Wolves of the SJHL.
Former Saskatoon Blade Kevin Kaminski is back in Saskatchewan bringing his style of coaching to the La Ronge Ice Wolves of the SJHL. File / Global News

His nickname is “Killer” and that came from his style of play.

Kevin Kaminski played three full seasons with the Saskatoon Blades, averaging 30 goals, 50 assists and 257 penalty minutes a season.

Kaminski took that fearless approach to the NHL, often fighting with players out of his weight class.

READ MORE: Aaron Greyeyes fitting in with La Ronge Ice Wolves

After 139 games in the NHL and a Calder Cup in the AHL, Kaminski moved onto a career in coaching.

Following several stops in several locations throughout the U.S., Kaminski is back in Saskatchewan bringing his style of coaching to the La Ronge Ice Wolves of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League (SJHL).

“I am an intense, serious guy, and I’ve always got to kind of tone it down a little bit or tell myself to tone it down because that’s just the way I was when I played my whole life,” Kaminski said.

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“Anything I did, I had to win at anything. It didn’t matter if it was cards or get the last word in. I had to win at everything.”

And winning is something the Ice Wolves are doing a lot more of.

The team had 12 wins in 58 games last season. They are currently tied for fourth in the entire league this season with 23 wins.

READ MORE: Former Saskatoon Blades bring grit to La Ronge Ice Wolves

Joining Kaminski on the bench is former Blade Gaelen Patterson who is from La Ronge.

“(Kaminski’s) a really good guy to work with, really honest, good, good-hearted person. He’s a tough guy on the ice, but he’s a little bit softer off,” Patterson said.

“I’m learning a lot from him, too.”

Last season, Kaminski was coaching in Fresno, Calif., and when he took the job in La Ronge he convinced some players to join him in the northern community — like leading scorer Daylon Mannon who is from Fresno.

“Once I told everyone, they’re like, ‘where are you playing La Ronge? Oh, you better get some warm clothes,” Mannon recalled.

Mannon said he continues to improve under Kaminski’s tutelage despite his coach’s tough-guy image.

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“He knows a lot of skill out there. I mean, he played juniors and he made the NHL,” Mannon said.

“So he’s doing something right.”

READ MORE: SJHL, team sever ties with player following profanity-laced video

Off the ice Kaminski is described by many as “one of the nicest guys I know” and they feel the same in his hometown of Churchbridge, Sask.

Over the years, his efforts have raised almost half a million dollars for the community.

This year, the community did something for him and named the arena after him.

“This is by far the most prestigious award that I could ever think of coming from my community and Churchbridge,” said Kaminski as his voice cracked with emotion.

“I’m just proud to be from Churchbridge.”