Hawks hope to soar in second half of season
The Charleswood Hawks of the Manitoba Major Junior Hockey League are halfway through an up-and-down season, sitting in sixth place in the 10-team league at press time.
Second-year head coach Will Kinsman said that, despite the team’s place in the standings, he feels the Hawks can have success against anyone in the league.
“I think for this roster, (the) sky is the limit as far as potential goes, but we’ve just kind of been inconsistent in our play since basically the beginning of the year until now,” Kinsman said. “But hopefully here in the new year, we can find a little bit more consistency and get a good run going.”
Kinsman said when the team is firing on all cylinders, it does several things well. The Hawks were 11-10-1 ahead of a Jan. 8 game against the St. Boniface Riels.
“When we’re playing our best, our forwards are attacking with speed, our defenders are moving the puck up quickly. And we’ve got a really good goalie. I think he’s probably the best goalie in the league, and when he’s playing well, he gives us a chance to win every night,” he said. “We have a very talented forward group, and if they find a little more consistency through their game, we’re going to be a really tough team to play against come playoff time.”
Kinsman said the Hawks have a young team this year, with only three players at the league’s maximum age of 21. That means much of the team is still acclimatizing to this level of hockey.
“They’re still learning how to win at the junior level … It’s a very emotional group at times. When they have big wins, they’re excited about them. But those losses where maybe they shouldn’t have lost, they’re frustrated with themselves. They know they can be better, and that’s just the learning curve.”
Top playmaker and captain Ethan Lewis said despite the ups and downs, the team has come together well in the locker room.
“It’s a really good group, a lot of energy around the rink all the time. It’s really fun to be a part of and come to the rink every day,” the winger, who leads the team with 20 assists, along with eight goals, through 22 games, said.
Lewis agreed with Kinsman’s assessment of the team’s potential, saying at times the team moves the puck with speed and becomes a tough opponent to handle. On the other hand, when things aren’t going their way, Lewis said he thinks players are trying to do too much by themselves.
“That’s natural. Guys want to help out the team the best they can and get us out of holes, but the best way to get out of that is just moving the puck and believing in what we’re doing,” he said.
Cody Sellar is the reporter/photographer for the Free Press Community Review West. He is a lifelong Winnipegger. He is a journalist, writer, sleuth, sloth, reader of books and lover of terse biographies. Email him at email@example.com or call him at 204-697-7206.