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Kalamazoo Wings name Joe Smaza as assistant coach

Published: 27 days ago

KALAMAZOO, MI—The Kalamazoo Wings, proud ECHL affiliates of the Vancouver Canucks, have hired Joe Smaza as assistant coach, head coach and director of hockey operations Nick Bootland announced Thursday.

Smaza joins the Wings with over 18 years of coaching experience at the youth AAA level in the state of Michigan. Most of his coaching duties have been with the highly-respected Belle Tire organization based in Taylor, Michigan. He also spent six years with the equally-touted Honeybaked Hockey AAA club in Oak Park, Michigan. Smaza has over 15 state titles under his belt as well as a national championship between the two organizations.

“Joe has created a winning culture everywhere he’s coached,” Bootland said. “His network at the junior and collegiate levels will help us tremendously in the recruitment process.”

Among the players who Smaza coached at the youth ranks are Dylan Larkin (Detroit Red Wings), Zach Werenski (Columbus Blue Jackets), Cam Fowler (Anaheim Ducks) Brendan Perlini (Arizona Coyotes), and Kyle Bushee. Smaza has coached a multitude of players drafted by NHL teams, including numerous first round picks.

Prior to coaching, Smaza played for two seasons in the USHL with Omaha and Dubuque, where he combined for 46 points in 89 games as a defenseman. He continued his amateur career at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls and logged 59 points in 102 career games. Smaza was an assistant captain during his sophomore and junior years, and was named the team’s captain for his senior campaign.

At the conclusion of his collegiate career, Smaza skated in 10 games with the Dayton Bombers (ECHL), two games with the Wheeling Nailers (ECHL) and seven games with the Saginaw Gears (UHL).

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