When hitting the recruiting trail for the Back-to-Back Division Champions in the 2019-2020 season, Head Coach and GM Jon Jonasson was looking to add players with a high level of character, commitment, and dedication. When coach Jonasson first met Defenseman Joshua Hampel a native of Waterdown, Ontario he knew he found a player with the right characteristics to help the Moose win a National Championship. It was during a tournament in Detroit, Michigan when Josh landed on the radar of the Minnesota Moose and other junior and NCAA programs.
What was so intriguing about Josh was after watching him play multiple games, coaches then learned that Josh was battling more than most other players. Josh Hampel was born without his left hand leaving him with a third of his forearm below the elbow, but nobody noticed because it was camouflaged with his outstanding play in the tournament. When he suits up he wears a prosthetic, which connects to his glove, which then connects to his stick. Once Josh hits the ice in competition, he is not just as good as everyone on the ice, he is typically better. Hampel has a level of compete that separates himself from other players on and off the ice, a shot that is extremely accurate, a stride that separates himself from opposing players in three quick strides, and an IQ that allows him to calculate plays ahead of time.
Meet Josh Hampel 2001 Defenseman from Waterdown, Ontario
Moose Staff: When did you start playing hockey?
Josh Hampel: I started playing hockey around the age of 6, but began skating at the age of 2. The most ironic thing about starting hockey on ice was that I loved hockey from the age of 2, but only played road hockey or mini sticks with my buddies.
My younger brother Luke came along and when Luke was 3 he wanted to play ice hockey. My parents asked me several times about hockey on the ice with a team but I continually said that I would like to be a referee. Finally, when Luke started I said that I would love to play but without a left hand how was I going to hold a glove? My dad said if that was all that was holding me back it was an easy fix. He simply went to the basement, cut the palm out of an old hockey glove, put my prosthetic through the palm, attached my stick to the prosthetic and I have never looked back.
Moose Staff: Why did you choose hockey?
Josh Hampel: I have always enjoyed the game. My Dad played hockey at a very high level and I always enjoyed listening to his stories about his experiences growing up and all the events and showcases that he was a part of that helped him succeed. From day one I always believed that hockey was in my blood. I had a passion for the game like nobody else and I always wanted to be around the game for the rest of my life.
It was a struggle at first having to adapt to my first ever hockey prosthetic, however after a few practices and game situations as a young boy, going to the rink was the best part of every day. Just the opportunity to go on the ice and skate, and shoot the puck filled me up with joy and excitement. Hockey has been my favorite sport to play and watch since I was 2 years old. To me, there is nothing better than being able to play hockey every day; it's my passion and it always will be. There will never be a day where I choose something else over hockey. The game and I have developed an unbreakable bond that not many individuals have, which is truly special to me.
Moose Staff: Being an amputee, what do you find most difficult when playing hockey?
Josh Hampel: About the only thing that is different for me is that I sweat a lot more than other guys. Being an amputee I have less skin to cool off and keep my body temperature down, but otherwise playing is the same for me as it is for anyone else. Ironically, most people cannot tell I have a prosthetic when they watch me play, which is a real compliment. It's only off the ice when I meet people do they realize that I only have one hand. When I first started, there was a referee who did our games and it wasn't until the end of year when he saw me after the season was over that he realized that I was missing my hand.
I totally embrace being an amputee, there are some things that I have said as a young boy just starting to play like, “I can't raise the puck because I have one hand.” My parents taught me that I can accomplish whatever I put my mind to, because there is not a task or goal on planet earth that cannot be reached. It just requires the right amount of will, strength, and self-motivation and determination; because if you are getting up every day to do something that someone else needs to motivate you to do then you are satisfying only the individual that is giving instruction. I learned that because I may not know how to do something on the ice at a very young age, then I need to learn how to accomplish that goal to succeed.
For me personally, it has been very hard to find open doors and acceptance. My talent level may be there, however many individuals see my amputation as a disadvantage, which sometimes leads to, “you were very close this year, you need work, come back next year, and my favorite of all, you are a very nice boy.” I have come across some coaches that just want to have “normal” players. Despite all the rejection that I have received in my hockey career, I have found a way to persevere and overcome any obstacle that I face.
Confidence and self-acceptance and self-value are all decisions within an individual, and I choose to not only accept my physical appearance but embrace it. I look at myself and see a young man that can overcome tasks in his life that many individuals with even two hands cannot achieve, because they have a negative mindset that continually tells them that they are not worthy or good enough to be at the next level, or make a certain team. I see myself as an individual that can have an unbelievable impact on the hockey community. I choose to use my amputation as a gift and a remarkable advantage, rather than using it as an excuse. I will never forget my first appearance at the USHL Phase II Combine at the Arctic Ice arena when my team and I, along with other teams went to the off-ice testing, which involved pull-ups. I remember walking towards to pull-up bar and it was dead silent, I strapped a stretchy exercise band around the bar and put my left amputated arm through the loop that I had made to engage both sides of my body. I only received a score of one, which I was not satisfied with but I stepped off from the pull-up rack to receive a ton of respect from my teammates for my actions. I was fortunate enough to receive a second invitation to the USHL Phase II Combine the next year and my personal goal was to perform much better in the pull-up portion of off-ice testing and I ended up with a score of 8 pull-ups, which was the average score at the combine for pull-ups. I truly believe that this comparison shows how determined and motivated I am as not only a successful hockey player but also a successful individual off the ice.
Moose Staff: Why did you choose the Minnesota Moose for your first year of Junior Hockey?
Josh Hampel: Coach Jon Jonasson, with the Minnesota Moose reached out to me following an event in Detroit, Michigan. After informing Jon that I was an amputee, he and the Moose organization embraced the news with much enthusiasm and a high amount of praise for what I have accomplished in my hockey career up to this point. Following the event in Michigan, I received many offers to play hockey in the United States, but the best offer that came out of the event was coach Jonasson’s offer for me to play in the USPHL for the Minnesota Moose organization. After receiving and accepting the offer from the Minnesota Moose, I was thrilled, just the opportunity to play in such a respected and talented league for a tremendous organization that promotes player development and player advancement is one of the greatest opportunities that any hockey player could ever have, and I am extremely grateful for the Minnesota Moose organization, they are the reason for my success and I could not be more excited to start the year in Minnesota. The state of Minnesota is also well known as the hotbed of hockey and have had many successful individuals come from the
area. Minnesota is a beautiful place to live and their fans are unbelievably supportive and provide the games at home with a ton of passion and excitement in the building.
Moose Staff: What do you look forward to the most this season?
Josh Hampel: I look forward to playing in Minnesota in front of a passionate crowd with a great group of teammates that are talented individuals and great people in the community off the ice. I look forward to representing such a successful organization and I look forward to being a part of a successful team in the 2019-2020 season while playing for such a supportive staff and management that encourages us as players to develop and continue our growth throughout the year to advance in our hockey careers. I absolutely love hockey and I cannot wait to be on the ice every single day. It is my passion and I look forward to being on the ice with my teammates who will become my family in Minnesota. I also look forward to becoming a better hockey player than I am currently with the opportunity to play in such a talented league like the USPHL.
Moose Staff: Where do you plan to play after playing for the Minnesota Moose?
Josh Hampel: After my first season with the Minnesota Moose, I hope to advance to tier 2 juniors or even tier 1. Starting in Minnesota for the Minnesota Moose is my first step toward receiving a scholarship to play NCAA hockey. I hope to move up to the next level of juniors after the development I receive with the Minnesota Moose and USPHL to give me the best possible opportunity for me to become the first amputee ice hockey player to play in the NCAA in the 20th century. I have goals and I am extremely motivated to achieve them and will continue to work day in and day out to achieve my dream of playing NCAA Division 1 ice hockey. I also look forward to battling for a National Championship with my new teammates on the Minnesota Moose. I believe the Moose has developed a very good reputation and the coaching staff has built a very strong program this summer to help us win a National Championship.
Josh Hampel is a 2001 Defenseman joining the Minnesota Moose, a Premier team in the United States Premier Hockey League. The Moose are entering their 3rd season as a team and have won the Midwest West Division in both 2017/18 and 2018/19 seasons, the Moose are looking to win the division for a 3rd season in a row.
To find out more information about the Minnesota Moose, visit www.minnesotamoosehockey.com