Former Muskie now behind the bench

Dave Kinsella helped the Muskies to a silver medal at the all-Ontarios in London in 1984 as a defenceman with the team.
This year, he was behind the bench of the St. Thomas Aquinas Cardinals–the team that knocked the black-and-gold out of further contention at the provincial showdown in Dryden.
St. Thomas Aquinas erased a 2-0 third-period deficit Friday morning to tie the Muskies 2-2, which was enough to propel the Cardinals into the playoffs and send Fort Frances home.
Kinsella’s team eventually lost 4-3 in double overtime to Upper Canada College in the quarter-finals Friday afternoon–not a bad showing considering the Cardinals played a makeshift schedule this season.
To help groom Kinsella as a head coach at the high school level, he also served as an “unofficial” assistant coach with the Kingston Frontenacs in 1993-94 along with Dave and Mike Allison. Before that, he played one year of university hockey with Wilfred Laurier.
With their league postponed due to the uncertainty of a teachers’ strike down east, they played about 30 exhibition and tournament games (including a trip to Boston).
It wasn’t until two weeks before March Break that they played a four-game league schedule (the minimum required to qualify for the all-Ontarios). Then they won a mini-playoff to earn the trip to Dryden.
The Cardinals also made quite a turnaround from their 4-16 start to ride a 17-game winning streak into OFSAA.
“The kids have finally started to believe into our program,” said Kinsella. “It’s like a read-and-react system, where we break down what the other team does and then we try to beat them at their own game.”
So how bad did he want to beat his former high school team?
“I really wanted to win this one bad–no question,” said Kinsella, who has compiled an impressive 67-25-5 record as head coach in two full seasons.
“As an assistant coach here, we went to OFSAA in Peterborough and lost 4-3 [to the Muskies] so I really wanted to get this game,” he stressed.
Although the Cardinals didn’t beat the Muskies, the 2-2 tie was as good as a win. It left both teams with a 2-1-1 mark in Pool ‘B’ but St. Thomas Aquinas advanced by virtue of having a better goals for-and-against ratio.
Kinsella said the key was their ability to finally adapt to the Muskies’ strong forecheck in the third period when the scored two goals in a four-minute span to earn the tie.
He noted teams in Northwestern Ontario play a faster flowing, skating game compared to the ones down south. Part of that difference, he said, can be attributed to the difference in how the referees officiate games (they’re more accustomed to a “junior style” which allows more of the rough stuff go).
“It’s a faster pace, cleaner, and less of the slashing stuff,” Kinsella observed.
Still, while he is enjoying his tenure at St. Thomas Aquinas, Kinsella was quick to add he would be interested in teaching–and coaching–up here in the north.
“I would like to move on with coaching a team and I would move back up there,” he said. “The people up there are fantastic, they are just great people. I would love to be involved up there.”
Terry Ogden, long-time head coach with the Muskies, remembered Kinsella as a player on the 1984 silver-medal team.
“When he left, I thought he had a future as a player,” Ogden noted Monday afternoon. “He was kind of a late bloomer, very strong and a very good skater.
“He took a lot of ice time with us because back then we only had four defencemen,” he added. “He was a key member of our silver-medal winning team–a real long shot there.”