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Saxon on the Storm: Austin Hall embraces role as the shut-down guy

Not everyone can be Bobby Orr. Or Ryan Merkley
Saxon on the Storm

Growing up, every Ontario Hockey League defenceman wanted to be Bobby Orr. Or Drew Doughty. Or Erik Karlsson.

And quite often, at least as youngsters, they are: the best skaters on their team, the go-to guy on their teams, creating offense with their superior skating and skill set.

But that usually changes at the OHL level, where most players have that same skill set.

A defenceman's ability to accept that change, and embrace a different role, is often the key to their success and the success of the team.

Such is the case with the Guelph Storm's Austin Hall, who very quietly has become the team's defensive stopper.

You don't notice a guy like Hall much, with his six points in 18 games this year, but that just means he's doing his job.

"I might not be the most skilled guy on the ice, but I want to be the hardest working one every single time," said Hall, whose plus-3 leads all Storm defencemen this season.

Understanding and embracing a role is something all players need to do.

"In minor hockey I was one of those defencemen that was relied on a whole lot by my team and I was more offensive. Once I came here I just embraced that defensive role. I really love what I do, going out there to be that shut-down guy," he said.

"It takes a bit to kind of accept your role when it's all defence. But I love it, I wouldn't want it any other way now."

Accepting the role makes you a much better teammate.

"Once you embrace that role you don't have to concern yourself too much with what you can't do. I know I'm not going to be the guy that goes out and does all this stuff that Ryan Merkley does and produce all these plays. I go out there knowing I just have to shut guys down shift in and shift out.

The 6-foot, 195-pound Belle River native was the Storm's seventh round pick, seventh overall, in 2013.

Following his draft year he played a year of junior B with the LaSalle Vipers, totalling 30 points, before joining the Storm the next season.

A big moment came at the beginning of the year when he was chosen to be an assistant captain.

"It's something I take a tremendous amount of pride in, being able to put on that sweater with the 'A' on it and represent my family and team and everything that I've done.

"To have that noticed and appreciated is a really nice feeling inside. It means a lot," Hall said.