The newest Icemen roster addition has been announced. On Wednesday, the Jacksonville Icemen made it known that defenseman Jack Van Boekel has agreed to terms on a deal for the 2023-24 season. The 27-year-old, 6’7” 203, 203-pound blueliner spent last season with the Wheeling Nailers in the ECHL’s Central Division, where he played 30 games for the team.
Heading into his third ECHL season, Van Boekel joined the league during the 2021-22 season as a member of the Cincinnati Cyclones. Playing 34 games with the Cyclones as a rookie, Van Boekel registered 13 points, including three goals and ten assists. In March of 2022, the d-man left Cincinnati in a trade, heading to the Idaho Steelheads in a one-for-one swap. While in Idaho, Van Boekel appeared in 11 games and contributed two assists, bringing his rookie season points total to 15. He played 30 games last season with the Nailers after signing with the team in November. Through 30 games with the Nailers, the sizeable defenseman tallied up five points (2g, 3a).
Pending the signing of recent trade pick-up Ivan Chukarov, Van Boekel is the sixth defenseman to be signed to the team for the upcoming 2023-24 season. Undoubtedly, what he adds is size to the Icemen roster. His staggering 6’7” frame stands taller than anyone else who will line up on the blueline this season, or anyone in an Icemen sweater, for that matter. The other thing he adds to the roster? Grit. And a lot of it.
A quick look at Van Boekel’s stats displays how well-acquainted the defenseman is with the penalty box. In just 75 ECHL career games, Van Boekel has racked up 227 penalty minutes. That number averages out to about three minutes in the box per game or roughly one minor infraction each night. Before joining the Steelheads in March of last season, Van Boekel had amassed the most penalty minutes for the Cyclones and was third amongst rookie skaters league-wide in the same category. In his junior hockey days, Van Boekel was recognized as the most penalized player in his under-18 league. For a team that sometimes struggles with special teams play, that level of grit could be a risky gamble for the Icemen. However, having someone who is happy to drop the gloves and settle the score does work to open up some space on the ice for others in an intimidating way.