To all present and future U16 age players and families:
We are thrilled to be able to introduce you to Ben Danford the NM Ice U16AA coach for the upcoming season. Ben is retiring from pro hockey this year when the ECHL playoffs with the Toledo Walleye come to an end. After an incredibly successful and rewarding hockey career, Ben is ready to give back to the Game and we are lucky to have him committed to move to Albuquerque this summer!
An important part of Ben’s development background has been creating and running skills clinics for all ages and high level development training for junior and college players in the summers. You should also know that Ben is Phil Fox’s cousin, so a big thank you goes out to Coach Phil for helping to bring Ben Danford to Albuquerque as we continue to build and grow our hockey program. As with Phil and Kyle, Ben will be helping with players and teams at every level, will also serve as Director of Hockey at Outpost Ice Arenas and will be one of the assistant coaches of the NAHL NM Ice Wolves with a focus on defense and special teams. His top priority, though, will be as head coach of our U16AA NM Ice team.
All U16 age players in the state interested in travel hockey for the upcoming season are invited to a free camp with Coach Ben, Coach Phil and Coach Kyle on May 24 and 25 at 6:45-7:45pm at Outpost Ice Arenas. So, please mark your calendars and spread the word to your friends to join us then. Click to sign up for the U16 camp in late May.
Having a high level U16 team going forward is especially important to NM Ice going forward is especially important going forward because of the potential connections with the NAHL team that debuts at Outpost this season. Other programs across the US and Canada find opportunities for youth players to participate in some Junior A practices, special events and even some scrimmages because a connected U16 team is an important feeder to the junior team.
Let us know if you have any questions and please join us in welcoming Coach Ben Danford to New Mexico!
Jeff Thompson – President NM Ice
Stan Hubbard – Head Travel Coach NM Ice
Ben Danford – Director of Hockey Outpost Ice Arenas and Head Coach of NM Ice U16AA Team
Ben Danford is an experienced hockey professional who spent his youth and high school years playing in his hometown of Stillwater, MN. As a Stillwater Pony, he was a three-year letter winner and received all conference honors in 2007, and honorable mention in 2006.
Following a successful Minnesota high school hockey career, Danford played three years in the NAHL. He spent time with the Southern Minnesota Express, Motor City Machine, North Iowa Outlaws, and finished his time with the Bismarck Bobcats, where he won a Robertson Cup Championship. During his career in the NAHL, Danford played in 148 games and accrued 50Pts (18G, 32A).
Danford went on to receive a Division 1 offer from Canisius College, in Buffalo, NY. As a four-year standout with the Golden Griffins, he posted 84 points (10G, 74A) in 158 career NCAA games. He currently holds 3 school records: Career assists by a defenseman (74), single season assists by a defenseman (24) and points by a freshman defenseman (26). He is also currently 5th in the NCAA record book for DIV 1 games played (158 consecutive). In 2013, Danford helped lead the Golden Griffins to an Atlantic Hockey Championship, where he was named to the All Tournament Team. While at Canisius, he also earned team MVP honors his senior season, and was voted to the All Atlantic Hockey 3rd Team (becoming just the 3rd defenseman in program history to earn the honor). At the end of his senior season with Canisius, Danford earned a professional tryout with the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League.
After his stint in the American Hockey League, Danford played two seasons professionally in Europe, where he spent time in France and Sweden before returning to the U.S to sign with the Orlando Solar Bears of the ECHL. As a Solar Bear he accumulated 20 points (6G, 14A) and had a +21 rating in 51 games during the 2016-17 season.
Danford had his best season in professional hockey during the 2017-18 season with the Atlanta Gladiators, notching 34 points (10G, 24A) in 52 games. The Minnesota native led all Gladiators' defensemen in goals, assists and points. He ranked in the top five in the ECHL in scoring by defensemen before an injury ended his regular season with just over 20 games remaining.
Danford is currently with the Toledo Walleye, where he has 11 points in 20 games (3G, 8A). In his ECHL career, he has played a total of 147 games, accumulated 75 points (20G, 55A) and has a +10 rating.
Throughout his lengthy hockey career, in the off season, Danford has been committed to coaching and teaching skills to players at every level. Ben Danford worked closely with current NM Ice Wolves (NAHL) Head Coach Phil Fox at Pony Pride Training where he has been sole head of player development since Fox moved to Albuquerque and began coaching there. Danford has also coached numerous skills camps and sessions at the Lumberyard Sports Complex where he helped train Junior and College hockey players for even higher levels.
Danford and his wife will move to Albuquerque upon finishing the 2019 ECHL playoffs with the Toledo Walleye. In Albuquerque, Ben Danford will become Director of Hockey for the Outpost Ice Arenas and will be the head coach of the NM Ice U16AA team. Danford will also help the NM Ice Wolves NAHL team as an assistant coach.
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