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Ben Hackl excited to coach in hometown

Dryden product will serve as an assistant coach with the SIJHL’s Ice Dogs next season.
Dryden Ice Dogs forward Ben Hackl, right, chases after Nikolas Campbell of the Thunder Bay North Stars during a SIJHL game on Wednesday, April 19, 2023. Hackl is returning to the Ice Dogs to serve as an assistant coach next season. (Leith Dunick,

DRYDEN – Ben Hackl is coming home.

After spending last season as an assistant coach with the Manitoba Junior Hockey League’s Winnipeg Freeze, the 21-year-old Hackl is joining the coaching staff of the Dryden Ice Dogs for the 2024-25 Superior International Junior Hockey League campaign.

“I’m extremely grateful for the opportunity,” Hackl said. “This is the team I grew up watching and I was fortunate enough to play for them as well.

“To have a chance to coach with the team now brings this full circle.”

Hackl will be an assistant coach for the Ice Dogs, who are currently without a head coach and general manager following the departure of longtime bench boss Kurt Walsten last week.

“It’s definitely cool to be a part of the changes and the new direction that the team is going in,” Hackl said.

“We’ve got some plans in place here already and I know everyone here is champing at the bit to get next season going here.”

Hackl’s first stint with the Ice Dogs came in 2022-23 as he wrapped his junior hockey career with his hometown team and had 41 points in 41 games.

Some lingering injuries from his playing days, which also saw him win a MJHL championship with the Dauphin Kings in 2022, led to him pursuing a coaching opportunity with the Freeze.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Hackl said.

“There’s some similarities between playing and coaching, but there’s a lot of differences. You’ve got to think like a coach and a coach’s mindset is a lot different than a player’s (mindset) sometimes.

“Once I got my feet wet though, I really learned a lot with the Freeze and I can’t say enough good things about their organization and how they treated me.”

Hackl considers himself a student of the game and says he’s always wanting to learn and get better.

He’s picked the brains of his coaches during his junior playing days, which were Walsten in Dryden and Doug Hedley in Dauphin.

“You always learn something new and that’s the thing that I love about coaching,” Hackl said.

“I think it’s important to be there for the players and to have their back. Anything that they are going to do or go through in games, practices or workouts . . . you’ve done that before.”

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