He was a specialist extraordinaire before the boxla gods coined the phrase “transition player.”
Ken Winzoski spent his entire 355-game senior career killing penalties, scooping up loose balls and tenaciously checking opponents to an unproductive stand-still.
In the meantime, he managed to rack up 729 points on 257 goals and 472 assists toiling for with short stints in Toronto and Montreal.
Not bad for a five-foot-eight, 175-pounder!
A Royal City native, born April 5, 1948, Ken enjoyed participating in many sports as a youngster, particularly lacrosse, soccer and hockey; but lacrosse gave him the opportunity to out-hustle, out-run and out-think his opponents.
And, so, his lacrosse life took shape
At the age of 17, Ken joined the New Westminster Salmonbellies as a forward, showing enough skill that, even at his tender age, he was called up to the senior club for a game.
The following season (1966), he captured the junior league scoring title with 97 points, leading the Junior ‘Bellies to a Minto Cup date with the legendary Oshawa Green Gaels. Although the squad successfully defended its Canadian title, it was Winzoski who was named the Jim McConaghey Memorial Trophy winner as the series’ MVP.
After splitting the following season between the junior and senior ‘Bellies, Ken joined the parent club in 1968 when the Salmonbellies entered the western division (WLA) of the newly-formed National Lacrosse Association (NLA).
It was also the year that saw the introduction of the 30-second shooting rule. What became immediately apparent was the need for speedy transition players.
The former junior scoring champion was quickly switched from the forward position to defence where he could recover loose balls and feed established goal scorers like , , and .
Oh, yes, another superstar-in-the-making who benefitted from Ken’s two-way game was his longtime friend and junior teammate . This slick duo formed what was to become known as one of the game’s greatest penalty-killing units.
Ken joined Toronto of the NLA’s Eastern division (ELA) in 1969 but soon returned to the comfortable confines of Queens Park Arena where he remained until 1975 when the game again tested the professional route under the National Lacrosse League (NLL) banner.
Winzoski was selected by Montreal in the first round of the new league’s universal draft. Ken enjoyed an excellent 95-point season but decided to return to the ‘Bellies in 1976 and help them to another Mann Cup title.
In his 10-year senior career, Ken enjoyed five trips to the Mann Cup championships, winning four times — 1970, 1972, 1974 and 1976.
For Ken, 1974 obviously stood out as the most memorable year of his athletic life. First, he travelled to Australia with the Canadian team competing in the World Field Lacrosse Championships and then returned to lead the ‘Bellies to the sudden-death Mann Cup victory over Windsor Warlocks. Ken was awarded the Mike Kelly Medal (MVP) after notching four goals, three of them while his club was shorthanded.
Outstanding offence and defence — excellence that illustrated his entire career and led him into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame in 1995. Sadly, Ken passed away September 4, 2007.