The Notre Dame Hounds have a steep hill to climb if they hope to qualify for the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League playoffs and in order to extend their season beyond the end of the regular schedule they will be counting on their veterans to draw from past experiences and provide leadership to the remainder of the team.
Hardy Wagner is one of those players.
With 90 games of SJHL action under his belt, the recently-turned 19-year-old defenceman is closing in on equalling his career high in points as the 6-foot-0, 175-pound defenceman has three goals and 10 assists in 35 games this year. The Regina product had three goals and 16 helpers in 52 games last year and as a 17-year-old call-up registered one assist in three games two seasons ago.
Wagner has been a steadying influence on a team that is in the top half of the league for defensive play; it is scoring goals where the Hounds have struggled as Notre Dame has only dented the twine more than one other team so far this season.
Wagner has been a mainstay in Wilcox after being selected in the second round of the 2015 SJHL bantam draft as he spent his entire midget career with Notre Dame before moving up to the Junior “A” level last season.
As a 15-year-old, Wagner played the majority of the year with a Midget AA team where he collected 20 points in 35 games, but he did get called up to the Midget AAA Hounds and helped them win a league championship.
The next two years were with the Notre Dame Argos of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League and in 83 games Wagner tallied nine goals and set up 20 more. He also amassed more than 150 minutes in penalties over those two seasons proving he has some grit in his game.
All of those characteristics will be counted on as the Hounds look to make a move in the standings over the next seven weeks. Notre Dame has at least a couple of teams they need to surpass so if Wagner can continue helping take care of his own end, and add in with the occasional bit of offence, then the Hounds could make a move down the stretch.