As the offseason enters the dead zone between free agent frenzy and preseason training camps, it’s a good time to take a look at those who will be donning the Icemen sweater in the upcoming season. There are more than a few players set to return to Jacksonville, but there may be one name that stands out from the others: Victor Hadfield. Seasoned fans of the sport may recognize the name, as Hadfield’s grandfather made New York Rangers history in the 1970s bearing the same name. Appearing on the “goal-a-game” (GAG) line, Vic Hadfield became the first Ranger to score 50 goals in a season, racking up 106 points in 1971-72. For the younger Hadfield, the road to the pros has looked differently than that of his predecessor.
Limits and Expectations:
Returning for his second full season in an Icemen uniform, Victor Hadfield was once told he wouldn’t make it to the pros due to his size. Overlooked in the OHL’s priority selection draft in 2016, Hadfield used the naysayers as fuel. “He took that as motivation just to prove everybody wrong,” commented grandfather Vic Hadfield. Just the next year, in 2017, the Barrie Colts selected the young defenseman with the number one overall pick in the OHL’s under-18 selection draft. In his three seasons with Barrie, Hadfield played in 124 games and registered 33 points (10g, 23a). However, his career-high eight goals and 18 assists came in his last season with the Colts, where he also played on the left wing.
Attending training camp with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose earned the multi-faceted Hadfield an amateur tryout, joining the team for the 2020-21 season. He played in only four games for the Moose during the 2020-21 season before signing an ECHL contract with a fellow South Division team, the South Carolina Stingrays, in the fall of 2021. In South Carolina, Hadfield dressed for 16 games earning a pair of goals and assists respectively. It would be a short stint in Charleston for Victor Hadfield, who, in March of 2022, would find himself on the move again – this time to Jacksonville in a trade.
Both Sides of the Ice(man):
Playing 16 games for the Icemen in the 2021-22 season, Hadfield would add another 6 assists to his points total, registering 10 points in 32 games over the span of his first ECHL season. Appearing in five games during the Icemen’s postseason run that year, Hadfield added another assist to his collection. The upcoming 2023-24 season will be the defenseman’s second full season as a member of the Jacksonville Icemen organization, and he looks to improve upon the success he’s already had in the black and blue. During the 2022-23 season, Hadfield set new professional career highs, contributing seven goals and assists equally during 44 games. He also played in two games during the team’s run in the 2022-23 Kelly Cup Playoffs. Although it has taken him a season or so to find his footing, Hadfield seems to have adjusted to the change of scenery just fine.
One of four confirmed returns to the Icemen blueline this season, Hadfield’s ability to move the puck at both ends of the ice makes him a sort of a hockey Swiss Army Knife. A mobile, puck-moving defenseman with the vision of a forward, Hadfield has seen success being slotted into the Icemen line-up as both a presence on the blue line and a scoring threat on offense. In 60 games with the Icemen, fans have gotten to see a range of scoring abilities, from crisp backhanded shots around the crease to long bombs fired from the point. No stranger to grit, the 22-year-old multi-purpose skater also isn’t afraid to drop the gloves either. Whether in the offensive or defensive zone, Hadfield has the capability to lay the body on his opponents and open space up on the ice for his linemates. Combined with speed that allows him to cover a lot of ice quickly, Hadfield is a well-rounded player that doesn’t slow down depending on his role. A fun, skilled player to watch, Hadfield’s return to the Icemen roster for the 2023-24 season should have Icemen fans everywhere excited.