If you followed along with my articles during the Vancouver Giants’ run to the WHL Final last season, you would be familiar with ‘The Hardy Boys’.
The line of Dawson Holt–Jared Dmytriw–Owen Hardy was easily the team’s best trio through the four rounds, combining for 49 points in 22 games.
Coming into the 2019-20 WHL season, only the ‘Hardy’ part remains.
Dmytriw, last year’s captain, has graduated from the WHL after a five-season career, and Dawson Holt, a 1999-born like Hardy, was traded to the Regina Pats this offseason with Sergei Alkhimov coming to Vancouver.
Now, the six-foot-one 201-pound power forward has 230 WHL regular-season games under his belt and is the oldest player in the locker room, just edging out forward Brayden Watts by eight days.
With age comes leadership, and Hardy is one to lead with his actions more so than words.
“I like to lead by example. I like to be the hardest worker in the room, and I think that’s the best way to lead. If you’re putting in a good example for the young guys, they’re going to follow.”
On the ice, the product of Nanaimo, BC, sported an ‘A’ as an alternate captain last season and during the team’s first game of the 2019 preseason against Seattle wore the ‘C’.
Though hits are not tracked in the WHL, Hardy would be near the top of the team leaders. Since coming to the Giants during the 2015-16 season after starting the year with his hometown Nanaimo Clippers of the BCHL, he’s had the ability to get the crowd engaged into the game whether with a thunderous body check or on a strong forecheck that makes opposing defenseman think twice about retrieving the puck in their own zone.
“He’s a big, strong guy. He brings a heavy game. He’s physical, and he’s hard to play against. As a 20-year-old this year, if he goes to the net and commits to going to those areas which he does, you’ll start to see him creating more offense for us,” coach Michael Dyck had to say about Hardy.
That style of play was a key part for his playoff success last year — a style made for the playoffs.
As he looks forward to his final season of junior hockey, his mindset hasn’t changed since coming into the league as a 16-year-old.
“Same (mindset) as always…being the best player I can be, be an honest player. Just same mindset as every year, try to add onto the year before. I feel like I had a good offseason. Also, I thought I had a pretty good postseason last year so I just want to keep rolling off of that. Worked on a lot of my weaknesses this summer and just trying to get better every day.”
Motivation will not be lacking for Hardy who is one of six overagers that the Giants currently have on their roster, double what the league limit is for 20-year-olds. General manager Barclay Parneta has until October 10th to decide between Hardy, Jadon Joseph, Milos Roman, Dylan Plouffe, Brayden Watts, and goaltender David Tendeck for the three overagers they will go with.
“It’s good competition; nobody is at each other’s throats or anything. Everybody knows the situation we’re in and are still trying to make each other better and at the same time just play to the best of our capabilities,” Hardy said about the Giants’ overage situation.
After the experience of being one goal shy of a WHL Championship, he knows they have a core that’s capable of another long run along with a mix of new additions. According to Hardy, the biggest aspect to carry over is the team’s character or identity.
“Our character in the room, we have to keep building that, keep improving on that. We had a great team last year so we have to take the good things from last year and apply them to this year, and I don’t think that’ll be a problem.”
What would make it even sweeter is finishing the job in what is Owen Hardy’s last kick at the can.