The Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League’s Charleswood Hawks will boast a new-look coaching staff for the 2021-22 season.
This past weekend, the team announced Will Kinsman as its head coach, Dillon Smith as an assistant, while also making known the return of Hunter Ploszay as Charleswood’s goaltending coach.
“The Charleswood Hawks are a founding member of the MMJHL and have 16 provincial titles,” Kinsman told Game On. “For them to call and consider me was an honour all on its own. There aren’t many organizations in any league in any country with their tradition of winning. It’s a privilege and I’m very excited or the opportunity; I’m a very passionate person and the people within the organization share that trait with me.”
Clearly thrilled for the upcoming season, Kinsman – a former high school hockey coach turned junior assistant – had had plenty of experience, which he claims helped lead him to this role with the Hawks.
“The past four years I’ve had two great opportunities to grow as a coach with both the Vincent Massey Trojans high school program and then with the Winnipeg Freeze,” the 31-year-old said. “The most important thing for me was providing a first-class experience for the kids. I feel like high school hockey sometimes gets looked down on in some circles. The Winnipeg High School Hockey League hands-down can be the greatest experience for a hockey player in our area. I’m excited to see the league continue to grow and bounce back after the cancelled season.”
Leaving the Trojans after three highly-successful seasons for the newly-formed Winnipeg Freeze in 2020-21, Kinsman accepted the invitation from Josh Green to serve as an assistant for the first time within the Manitoba Junior Hockey League.
“With Josh, I was able to sit back and become a sponge,” he said. “Learning from him was awesome; I paid attention to every detail about how he ran meetings, practices and how he presented himself on the bench. He is a true pro. You’d be hard pressed to find someone in our region with more knowledge of the game than him. Josh had an open-door policy for the kids – anything they needed, he was always willing to listen. That’s something I’ll have at Eric Coy, no doubt about it.”
Although unable to do much damage on the bench together as the COVID-19 pandemic ultimately cut the 2020-21 MJHL season very short, Kinsman will certainly not soon forget the many lessons learned from the former Manitoba Moose star.
“Josh’s attention to detail was something that was easily noticed,” Kinsman said. “The kids were prepared as they could be for practices and games using video and whiteboard meetings to iron out the fine details. I was over the moon for Josh when he told me that he was moving up with the ICE. I have no doubt he will continue to climb the coaching ranks.”
Prior to his time coaching, Kinsman played three seasons with Vincent Massey, before joining Ontario’s Superior International Junior Hockey League for two years. He skated with Smith during his final season at Minot State University, one year after earning an ACHA national championship with the Beavers.
Now shifting gears to the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League, Kinsman is champing at the bit to get going with his new crew. Having missed the majority of the 2020-21 season, this coming year will definitely be a big one for the first-year MMJHL head coach.
And as a matter of fact, the work has already begun. And it will be happening with a familiar face.
“We are planning a prospects camp – COVID-dependant of course – so we can get together before summer,” he said of the team’s plans for the remainder of the offseason. “Signing on with the Hawks also meant I get back behind the bench with a great friend, Dillon Smith. We played together in college and coached the Massey team together for all the years. We have a great relationship, we think about the game very similarly, and both have a passion for helping kids.”
Kinsman says that from his first conversation with Hawks’ general manager Tim Scharer, it was clear that Charleswood would be a perfect fit for and organization and a coach wanting to do things “the right way”.