The Cyclones have re-signed rookie forward James Hardie to a standard player contract for the 2023-24 ECHL season. Hardie becomes the eighth player who skated with the 'Clones last season to re-sign with the team.

The 21-year-old native of Barrie, Ontario was faced with the choice of pursuing his education and going to college or chasing his dream to play professionally. For now, Hardie will put school on hold.

"Playing pro hockey is what I've wanted to do my entire life and Cincinnati is where I want to be," said Hardie. "I was only there for about a month but I loved it. The team was so welcoming and treated me like family. I know you have to start somewhere and work your way up, so I think this is the perfect team for me to begin that journey with."

Hardie first signed with the 'Clones in April of last season following his final year of junior hockey with OHL-Mississauga. He appeared in Cincinnati's last two regular season games, then dressed for 10 of the team's Kelly Cup Playoff contests, scoring a goal and an assist. Hardie's goal was the last goal for the Cyclones in game four of the Central Division Finals.

"James is a young, offensively gifted player," said Head Coach and Director of Hockey Operations, Jason Payne. "Now it's time for him to take that leap into the pro hockey world and show that he can perform at this level. I think it benefits him having come up and spent a few weeks with us last season to get into some games. I've known James and watched him play since he was a little kid and I'm excited to continue watching as he now matures into a professional here with the Cyclones."

In his final season with Mississauga, Hardie captained the team and led the way with 38 goals and an 82-point campaign through 66 games. The year prior, Hardie finished in a tie for 10th in the OHL with 41 goals. Hardie finished his junior tenure with 128 goals and 116 assists for 244 points in 255 games.