Champion King to an All-Star Coach: The Hackl Story

It was a season that Dauphin Kings fans will never forget.

Doug Hedley was brought back as the team’s head coach and general manager a couple of years prior, and the culture was changed. The Kings went from a 14-win team in the 2017-18 season to a 29-win team the following season and they increased their win total to 31 in the 2019-20 season.

The coronavirus pandemic then hit which shuttered the sports world. Back for the 2021-22 regular season, the Kings iced a very talented roster that included a few local stars such as Brayden Dube from Roblin, Jayden Jubenvill from Gilbert Plains, Aidan Brook of Roblin, to go along with Garrett Hrechka of Dauphin.

The team also brought in Carson Cherepak and Kings fans will forever remember the save he made with 30 seconds left in game seven against Steinbach when he flashed the leather to rob Travis Hensrud on a breakaway as Dauphin won the Turnbull Cup.

During a championship season, everything has to come together at the right time. The Kings beat Swan Valley in the first round, followed by a five-game series win against Winkler before dispatching Steinbach in the final.

There were stars on the team and players that fit incredibly well including Ben Hackl. While Ben did not light up the scoresheet, he was one of the team’s most important pieces with his outstanding work ethic.

Doug Hedley could play Hackl in any situation and come playoff time; he came up clutch offensively with a beautiful goal against Winkler in the team’s second round series win.

They say you never forget a championship run and Ben will never forget this one.

“I was incredibly grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of that team, I learned so much that year when I look back,” said Hackl. “Not even just on the ice, but off the ice as well. We all still stay in touch and lifelong friends were built that year and we will have them for the rest of our lives. It was a year that I will never forget.”

Dauphin then advanced to the Centennial Cup semi-final where the amazing journey ended against Pickering.

Back Home:

While Ben loved being a King, he only spent one full season in Dauphin. In time for the 2022-23 season, Hackl moved back home to join the Dryden Ice Dogs of the Superior International Junior Hockey League.

Ben grew up in Dryden and like so many young aspiring hockey stars, Ben always dreamt of playing with his hometown team in front of all of his family and friends. It was something he did not take for granted. Being home was a new chapter in his hockey journey in the Book of Life.

With a championship under his belt, Hackl was playing with all of the confidence in the world as he finished the regular season with 41 points which was tied for the 20th most in the league.

“It was a great experience to come back home and play for Dryden, it meant everything to me,” offered Hackl. “Many of my friends hadn’t seen me play in years and now they were so that was nice. It was also great to be around my family and friends every day.”

In a playoff hunt that year, the Ice Dogs downed Fort Frances in five games in their first series; however, the Ice Dogs season ended heartbreakingly in the semi-finals as they lost in double overtime in game seven against Thunder Bay. They then lost against Kam River in seven games in the league final.

We will never know what would have happened had Dryden beaten the North Stars in game seven, but we know that Ben went out playing with a team he always dreamed of playing for. That loss officially ended the playing chapter of his book and being one of the nicest guys you will ever meet, Hackl was a player that coaches loved, and fans couldn’t wait to watch.

New Chapter: 

Ben has loved the sport for as long as he can remember. He still remembers going to Ice Dogs games when he was just a young kid and sticking around after games to get autographs from the players.

He remembered being in awe when players visited schools in the community. Ben also remembers putting everything he had into honing his skills and being the best player on the ice and the best human possible off the ice. It wasn’t always easy for Hackl, but he never quit and he always persevered.

He played for many incredible coaches, including Hedley, Chad Facey, and Brad Dupasquier here in Dauphin. For years, Ben has been taking everything in from his coaches and now, he’s looking to share his knowledge and passion.

One year removed from playing with Dryden, Hackl joined the coaching staff for the Winnipeg Freeze this year as an assistant coach. While the season in all was not what the team was hoping for, it was an experience that Ben cherishes.

“Grateful for the chance, the organization was great to me, and I have nothing but amazing things to say about everyone,” said Hackl. “We were better than our record showed, we were a very young team. We improved so much from the start of the season to the end, it was great to see how much the players developed, and I was thrilled to get my feet wet as a coach.”

The former Turnbull Cup champion with the Kings knew he wanted to continue coaching after year one and in what could be called a crazy turn of events, an assistant coaching job opened with the Ice Dogs back in his hometown.

It was an opportunity that Ben could not pass up and now, he’s an assistant coach with his hometown team and also the team’s assistant general manager. Preparation has already begun for next season and Hackl will do whatever he can as the team looks to bring the Bill Salonen Cup back to Dryden.

“It’s an awesome opportunity, it was a no-brainer to come back home,” ended Hackl. “I’ve played with this team and now to coach them and come full circle, it’s pretty incredible. Our goal is to get back to our winning ways here, that’s the main goal. I’m extremely excited to get going with the organization.”


The Ice Dogs’ last championship was in the 2017-18 season when they went 40-8-6-2 in the regular season. They then beat Fort Frances and Thunder Bay to win a championship and as the Ice Dogs now look ahead to the 2024-25 season, Hackl hopes the team can replicate that of six years ago.