By Owen Sienko
SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- The graduation of Connor McNamara, Trip Franzese, and Patrick Corcoran after the 2018-19 season left a gaping hole in the Syracuse Men’s Club Hockey team’s leadership core. Then-junior, Peter-Owen Hayward, was quickly named the team’s new captain after serving as an alternate captain last season. However, three players were still needed to fulfill leadership roles for the young 2019-20 squad.
That's one area where 6'4 junior defenseman Ford Hatchett stepped up.
A dynamic two-way defenseman, Hatchett brings physicality and puck-moving talent to the Syracuse back end. He capped off his sophomore year by breaking the club’s record for most assists by a defenseman within their first two seasons with 50 assists in 59 games. The previous record of 25 assists was set by the club’s all-time leader in points by a defenseman.
“I’ve always kind of been a pass-first guy,” Hatchett said of his game. “I don’t have the greatest shot in the world, and we have a lot of really skilled guys on our team that can finish as long as I can find it and put in on their tape.”
Hatchett hasn’t slowed down one bit this season, elevating his game and putting up eight assists and nine points over the first eight games of the season. He says the increased production is due to an increase in ice time.
“In the past, I would play a good number of minutes and play on the power play and everything, but this year it’s been 35 minutes a night and a buck and a half on every power play,” Hatchett explained.
But Hatchett wasn’t always the dominant player he is. In fact, Hatchett said he may have never laced up the skates at all if it wasn’t for some unlikely heroes: the Carolina Hurricanes.
“I was born very early on into the Carolina Hurricanes moving there. My parents one time got tickets as a business thing,” Hatchett recounted. “And so I went to the game and just absolutely fell in love with it.”
With this new-found love of the sport burning inside him, Hatchett begged his parents for skating lessons. It was at his first lesson that he encountered a man who would later become a friend, former Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Glen Wesley.
“I was out at the learn to skate, just falling down and everything, and Josh, his son, is just flying around the ice,” Hatchett recalled. “And Glen said, ‘Josh! Slow down or you’re going to cut that poor kid’s hands off!’ And my mom was there and heard that, and she freaked out.”
Hatchett said his mother immediately went to the pro shop to buy him his first set of hockey equipment. He said that, although he initially lacked the skill, his calling card has always been his size.
“Really, because I was a big kid growing up was the only reason I ever made the initial good teams,” he explained. “I kind of started slowly developing a little bit of skill, and then got lucky enough to go to a prep school.”
In high school, Hatchett developed a close relationship with Carolina Hurricanes play-by-play broadcaster John Forslund and his son, Matt. To this day, Matt Forslund is one of his best friends, and he maintains a close relationship with the Forslund family.
“That’s the beauty of the hockey community in Raleigh,” Hatchett said. “It’s such a small community — at least it was when I was growing up — that you get to know so many people.”
Fast-forward all these years later, and Hatchett is making history on the ice and chasing his dreams off of it. A dual major in Political Science and Broadcast and Digital Journalism, Hatchett is pursuing a career in political journalism, but he still makes sure to stay rooted in Hurricanes hockey by covering the team he loves as a columnist for SB Nation.
“All credit goes to the Carolina Hurricanes," Hatchett said of his hometown team. "And that’s not just for me, that’s for almost every kid in Raleigh playing hockey now. That’s the only reason."
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