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Churchbridge honours Kaminski

Arena now bares his name

Kevin Kaminski may have played only 139 National Hockey League games, but they are a memorable 139 games for people in his hometown of Churchbridge.

For Churchbridge, Kaminski has been more than ‘a guy who made the big time’. Since his retirement the former hockey tough guy, he has 528 penalty minutes in those 139 games, has been a huge supporter of the town he grew up in. An annual golf tournament with his name attached has raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for local projects.

And, Saturday Kaminski continued to give to his community arranging for the LaRonge Icewolves, the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League to play the Yorkton Terriers in his hometown. (See game story here)

But the community had a special thank you planned in secret for Kaminski.

Called to centre ice before the first puck drop a tarp was lifted high above the ice to reveal the barn Kaminski first skated in would now bare his name as the ‘Kaminski Arena’.

“I had no clue that was coming,” said Kaminski in an interview after the first period of the game. “I was surprised we even got a game here in Churchbridge.”

Stealing a glimpse up at the sign he added, “that was pretty special and pretty cool. I made me have a tear in my eye.”

The arena holds memories for Kaminski.

“I was born in ’69 and I was on skates at 21-months,” he said, adding the ice his Icewolves were playing in was where he had learned to skate.

And there was a particular Pee Wee team that people along the glass watching the game were talking about that Kaminski recalls fondly too. He was on that team, along with Spy Hill’s Jeff Odgers who would also make the NHL, the young players still dreaming of the pros won a provincial title.

“We had a great bunch of guys that battled hard. It was a team that competed for each other,” said Kaminski.

As for the naming of the arena Kaminski said he probably shouldn’t have been surprised, adding his hometown is a special one.

“This is Churchbridge, one of the most supportive small town in Saskatchewan,” he said.

As far as what he has done for the community through the years, Kaminski said there was a good reason to do what he did.

“It’s for the kids in the future ... For me that’s what it’s all about,” he said.

Today Kaminski focuses on sharing what he knows about the game with the Junior Icewolves.

“This is what I do. It’s my 20th year coaching ... I’m trying to pass on what I’ve learned,” he said, adding he has been coached by some of the best Mike Babcock, Jim Shoenfeld, Bryan Trottier and Barry Trost among them.

Kaminski said he has come to learn the hockey community of Western Canada “is a small world,” and that the game of hockey has helped him develop relationships “all around the world.”

But, no place is more special than his hometown.