By Joshua Boyd / USPHLPremier.com
The Buffalo Stampede’s Ben Hardy is excited to be heading to an NCAA Division III future with Anna Maria College, located in Paxton, Mass. The Stampede goaltender split this past season between the Buffalo squad and another team in Canada, playing nine games for Coach Brian Thompson’s Stampede team.
“I first started talking to Anna Maria in early December of this year. It wasn’t until I got my acceptance in January that we started talking about possibly committing,” said Hardy, an ‘02 goalie residing in Merrimack, N.H. “In February, I got to tour the school and watched them get a 5-3 victory over Assumption University. On my visit, Coach praised me on my skating and athleticism.
“Anna Maria seemed like the all-around best fit for me and had the most to offer. Academically, it has a good program for my major [Business Administration] along with lots of resources for it as well,” said Hardy. “Athletically, Anna Maria has very successful programs with lots of support from its community. When I visited Anna Maria, it was a very nice campus that had a lot of natural beauty. You can really see its rich history and welcoming environment. A big reason I committed was the hospitality and tight-knit community on campus.”
Hardy played with his hometown Merrimack High School up through 2021, before playing briefly with the USPHL’s former Detroit Fighting Irish in 2021-22. After starting the 2022-23 season in Windsor, Ont., he joined the Stampede in January and closed out the season – and his junior career – with the Premier team.
“I think it’s a great organization that has a lot to offer for kids looking to make the next step in their hockey career,” said Hardy. “It’s very well-run and they treat their players better than any other team I’ve been on. [They have] lots to offer for a player on the ice and an individual off of it.”
He also enjoyed working with the Buffalo staff to zoom in on individual parts of his goaltending game that needed work.
“Buffalo molds their goalies to what fits them best which is something I really appreciated,” said Hardy. “They let you take advantage of the best aspects of your game and don’t try to change who you are as a goalie. They also help you build on weaknesses in your game through lots of repetition.”
After playing in high school and in another junior league, Hardy’s best experience was his brief time in January and February with the Stampede in the USPHL Premier.
“I think the USPHL is the best route for college hockey in the U.S., there’s no other league that can compete with what they’re doing,” said Hardy. “It spans across so much of the country and has eyes from almost every college. There is a reason the USPHL leads all other leagues in college commitments.”
It’s the so-called off-season now, a term that means little to nothing for the serious player moving on to their highest competitive level of their career. To Hardy, these next few months until move-in day at AMC are filled.
“This off-season, my biggest focus is keeping my endurance up off the ice and making sure my skating is intact on the ice,” he added. “Skating is very important for the speed and intensity of NCAA hockey.”
The USPHL congratulates Ben Hardy, his family, the Buffalo Stampede and Anna Maria College for his commitment.