Austyn Hardie is set to be one of the anchors on the Mooseheads blueline for the upcoming 2014-2015 QMJHL season. The 20-year-old is projected to join fellow defenseman Jesse Lussier along with sniper Phillipe Gadoury as the three overage players on the team this year, and says he’s already looking forward to getting on the ice.
“I’m excited just to get back to Halifax because it’s probably my favourite place in the world to be.”
Hardie grew up in Hemmingford, Quebec which is near the New York border. He has two older sisters and three family dogs. When Number 88 isn’t taking a few minutes to hang out with friends at his home in the Montreal suburb of Brossard, he’s busy doing offseason training, which he says takes up a large chunk of his time.
“I do morning workouts which is usually heavy weight training like squats, and later in the day I do a lot of quick-feet, footwork stuff and I’ll be on the ice two or three times a week.”
Hardie says hockey was always his main focus when it came to sports, but he also played some soccer in the summer as a teenager. After playing in the Sainte Catherine’s area minor hockey system, Hardie attended College Charles Lemoyne, a private school where he had a chance to play the game five days a week. He says it was with the Riverains where he was molded into a solid defenseman.
“I’d credit coach JD St-Martin with helping me improve as a player,” he says.
“When I got (to Charles Lemoyne) he developed me and pretty much gave me all of the little things that I needed to become the player I am now.”
Hardie describes himself as a defensive defenseman.
“I won’t be doing anything flashy out there, if I get the opportunity to score I’ll do it but usually I stay under the radar.”
Like many 20-year-olds, one of Austyn’s prized possessions is his car, a 2006 Ford Fusion that he keeps in Nova Scotia throughout the year. The defenseman lives with billet Steve Sykes during the season.
Hardie still has fond memories of being picked 12th overall by Chicoutimi in the 2010 QMJHL draft.
“It was pretty crazy because I was only projected to go in the third round,” he says, adding he was barely done congratulating Midget teammate Victor Provencher on being selected 11th by P.E.I before he got the surprise of a lifetime.
“I just sat back down and all of a sudden our school was being called again, and it was me they announced, I just remember the walk to the stage being something else, the Q does things the right way I can tell you that.”
Hardie says there were no big celebration parties on draft night however.
“I honestly just went home and sat down for awhile and thought, wow what just happened?”
Austyn did not play for the Sagueneens in his 16-year-old season, and says he ended up where he wanted to be when the Mooseheads dealt defenseman Carl Tremblay and the 3rd round pick to get him.
“I asked for a trade from Chicoutimi, and my main focus was to go to Halifax and once I heard I was going there I was pretty ecstatic just to get there and get started.”
He says he had some butterflies upon arriving, because of pressure he was putting on himself.
“I was a little nervous too, especially after they traded for a guy they had never seen before, but it worked out great and I’m still here now.”
Now a veteran with the Mooseheads, Hardie is excited to be one of the overage players on the team this season.
“It’s a big boost to my confidence, I kind of thought I had a spot on the roster, but you never know until it actually happens.”
He’s been keeping close tabs on what the club has accomplished in the offseason and jokes he’s suddenly feeling his age.
“I feel like I’m getting so old because I don’t really know anything about anyone in this year’s draft, but I know we got a lot of guys that are getting to play for their hometown team, so it’s going to be pretty exciting for them.”
Hardie is confident all of the draft selections will be thrilled with the chance to put on a Halifax jersey.
“All of the other guys we drafted that are from away, are really going to be wowed when they get to Halifax and find out what the Mooseheads are all about.”