Ben Hackl represents resilience. Over the past two years the 20-year old forward has suffered two facial injuries, a broken hand and a bad ankle sprain. The ankle injury was serious enough that Hackl missed the first 12 games of this 2022-2023 season for his hometown Dryden Ice Dogs of the Superior International Jr. Hockey League.
But Hackl has toughed it out and played through and around the injuries. And in this, his final season of junior eligibility, Hackl is a point per game player through 40 outings with Dryden, which has secured second place in the seven-team SIJHL and, along with the first place Kam River Fighting Walleye, are the top contenders to emerge as league playoff champions.
It has been a happy homecoming for the personable, easy-to-talk to Hackl, who was acquired by Dryden in an off season trade with the reigning champion Dauphin Kings of the Manitoba Jr. Hockey League.
“It has been awesome, being able to play at home in front of family and friends after being away for a few years,” Hackl relayed to Hockey News North. “I will always be thankful to (Ice Dogs president) Mike (Sveinson) and (coach-general manager) Kurt (Walsten) for bringing me home to finish my junior career.”
The 5-foot-11, 185 pound Hackl said he really likes playing for the hard-boiled Walsten, the rough and tumble, old school bench boss of the Ice Dogs.
“He is great to play for,” Hackl said of Walsten. “He is easy to play for because he rewards hard work. If you work hard you will never have an issue with Kurt.”
Meanwhile, Hackl said he “absolutely” feels as though the Ice Dogs are capable of winning this year’s SIJHL championship.
“There are some games that we let get away and that we would like to have back but we have been getting better and better as the season has gone on,” Hackl noted. “I am excited for us to go on a playoff push.”
Once this season ends, Hackl said he will turn his attention to the next chapter of his career, one in which he hopes will combine hockey and school. To that end, Hackl was put in touch by Hockey News North with Charly Murray, who is the head scout and recruiter for the Sault College Cougars of the Division 2, American Collegiate Hockey Association. And Murray was quick to contact Hackl, talk to him at length, and invite him to Sault’s College’s Spring Skate weekend, which his slated for June 3-4.
“He is the type of player and the type of character individual who we would love to have,” Murray said of Hackl. “I have sent him the information on courses and programs that are available at Sault College. And hopefully he comes here for our Spring Skate weekend and sees Sault College and the community for himself.”
Murray added that there are “three or four” other players from Dryden who he hopes to talk to about potentially attending Sault College and playing for the Cougars next season.
“That is a good program they have up there in Dryden,” Murray noted. “It comes highly recommended by a lot of people.”