(Southaven, MS) - Taking his team to a division championship in his first year coaching in the Mid-South, Mississippi RiverKings Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations Kevin Kaminski has been recognized as the Central Hockey League's Coach of the Year for the 2008-09 season.
Kaminski earned 10 of 16 first place votes and appeared on all possible ballots (coaches could not vote for themselves).
"This is truly an honor, especially with all the great coaches in the league," Kaminski noted when informed of the award. "My thanks to Ab (Dave Mattice, RiverKings' Director of Business Operations), Robin (Costa, RiverKings president), and the organization for giving me the opportunity."
A 40-year old native of Churchbridge, Saskatchewan, Kaminski is in his seventh season as a head coach, following two seasons as an assistant coach and a playing career that included 139 regular season games and eight playoff contests in the National Hockey League.
In his first campaign as RiverKings' coach, Kaminski has immediately fashioned his team into a championship-caliber group, now with a Northeast Division regular season title, and a 43-16-3 record with two games remaining in the schedule.
One of Kaminski's keys to success this season has come from the goal line on out. The RiverKings have been among the top teams in the Central Hockey League for fewest shots allowed per game and fewest goals allowed per game, making a balanced offense even more effective, coupled with dependable goaltending from Kevin Beech, the CHL leader in games played, minutes played, victories, and tied for the league lead in shutouts.
Kaminski said he was grateful that his RiverKings' team has bought into his coaching philsophy of grit and hard work. "I want to thank my players for buying into the foundation and the demand of the work ethic and the winning ways we want to establish here. Thank you again team for all of your hard work," Kaminski said.
This season has included an eleven-game winning streak, from February 13th in Colorado to March 7th at Bossier-Shreveport. It is one of two eleven-game winning streaks by teams in the CHL, the longest such mark this season.
The RiverKings also have not lost more than one game in regulation time since mid-November, and has fell in back-to-back regulation time games only three times the entire season.
Mississippi's 5-1 victory over Rocky Mountain on February 8th of this year was Kaminski's 200th career coaching success. His current career coaching mark is 214-205-5-31 in 455 games as a head coach.
Kaminski's best success prior to coming to Mississippi came at former CHL Northeast Division rival Youngstown, where he coached the SteelHounds for two seasons before coming to the RiverKings. Kaminski's SteelHounds earned a 73-40-15 record and playoff berths in both seasons.
He also has been a head coach with Missouri of the United Hockey League and Long Beach of the West Coast Hockey League/ECHL and started his coaching career as an assistant with Cincinnati of the American Hockey League for two years.
Mattice said he was happy for Kevin and pleased the organization's efforts were being noted with the award, adding, "Kevin has done a tremendous job putting a good team on the ice, especially with the short time he had in forming a team together following his appointment in July."
Mattice continued, "It's a tribute to his work ethic which relates back to the players on the ice. Kevin has provided a positive change in attitude both on the ice and in the communuty. It's been a pleasure working hand in hand with him. Kevin is well deserving of this award."
The Mississippi RiverKings' next home game is the regular season finale on Saturday, March 21st, when the Tulsa Oilers come to the DeSoto Civic Center in Southaven for Fan Appreciation Night, starting at 7:05 PM. Presented by 95.3, "The Rebel," the evening includes the Miller Lite Warm-Up Jersey Auction and the Kooky Canuck "Kookamonga Challenge" seven-pound burger eating contest.
Find out more about tickets, including tickets for the upcoming CHL playoffs by contacting the RiverKings front offices at 662-342-1755 today!