If there has ever been a player with more heart who has pulled on a Mooseheads jersey then I would like to meet him. Darcy Ashley epitomized the term heart-and-soul player during his four-year career in Halifax.
The Alberton, Prince Edward Island native stands only 5-foot-7 but never let that slow him down on the ice or in life for that matter. He was a four-time winner of the Mooseheads’ hardest working player award. For Ashley hard work is something he comes by naturally. Waking up at an ungodly hour as a youngster to help his father on the lobster boat instilled that characteristic and he has carried it with him into adulthood.
“The harder you work at doing everything you do in life, the more people notice it,” he says.
“Lobster fishing has been going on in my family for a couple of generations now and I hope that’s something I look forward to carrying on for years to come.”
These days Ashley owns his own lobster boat and license as he ventures into life as an entrepreneur while he is also in his third year as a student at the University of Prince Edward Island where he is working towards his Bachelor of Business Administration with a major in Accounting.
“Yeah it’s something I really enjoy and I hope to further that when my University degree is complete by writing the Chartered Professional Accountant exams.”
He loves life back home on the Island and plans to always call it home.
“Well since I bought my boat and lobster license last summer I’ll be doing that for the foreseeable future and hopefully the rest of my life plus with my degree it’ll be nice to have that to do something on the side whenever the season ends.”
Ashley’s story of determination is a commendable one as he has dealt with a number of head injuries throughout the years but has found a way to continue playing the game he loves.
“I had to take almost a year off this past year but you know I’m happy to be back on the ice. I’m just being a little more careful with how I got about my style of play.”
There was a point when he felt that his playing career may have been over, but in true Darcy Ashley form he did not give up and after doctors left the decision to return up to him he jumped at the opportunity.
“With only a couple of years left to play I thought I’d like to go out on my own decision rather than on an injury – hopefully.”
He still plays a hard-nosed style of game but admittedly keeps his head up along the boards a little more than he used to. When he was sidelined Ashley even stepped behind the bench for a time but says with the hunger to play is still stronger than any passion towards coaching.
“I did that during the first part of the year but there’s all kinds of time for coaching when you can’t play anymore.”
Aside from just being able to play hockey with the Panthers, Ashley is proud to still be teammates with best friend and fellow P.E.I. native Brent Andrews. The two players have only spent one year apart from each other since the age of 16 when Andrews was a rookie with Halifax and Ashley played in Junior A.
“It’s a pleasure to go to the rink everyday with him (Andrews) and to just hang out with someone that you’ve been friends with your whole life. I’m sure it’s a relationship that’ll carry on long after hockey is over.”
The Mooseheads selected Ashley with the 25th overall pick in the 2010 QMJHL Draft after he posted impressive point totals as a 16-year-old with the Summerside Western Capitals. He adjusted quickly to the QMJHL with 19 goals and 20 assists as a rookie for a rebuilding Halifax team that managed 20 wins in 2010-11.
As the franchise improved over the years, so did Ashley and he became a key cog in Halifax’s 2013 Championship team. He was the ninth leading scorer among the participating teams in the Memorial Cup which included a two goal – one assist effort in the Mooseheads’ win over the London Knights that vaulted the team into the tournament final. Ashley owns the second-most points scored in the history of the Mooseheads with 252 and when coupled with the way he played the game during his time in Halifax, has made him a fan favourite for eternity.