Defenseman Hayden Hanson will be one of two players from the Kemptville 73’s of the CCHL rostered with the Lone Star Brahmas this season. At 6’ 2” and 210 pounds Hanson will be a sturdy, physical presence in front of Brahmas’ netminder TJ Black.
Hayden was inked to a tender offer on the eve of the 2014 NAHL Entry Draft in which the Brahmas selected Quinn Carroll from the 73s in the fourth round with the 85th overall pick of the draft. Hanson and Carroll had built a fairly close friendship over the past two seasons playing for the Kemptville franchise owned by former NHL great Ron Tugnutt. Yet, neither of them knew the other was in discussions with the Brahmas. “At first when I was contacted by Coach Wildfong and Potter, I had no clue they were talking to Carroll as well,” recalled Hanson. “One day while catching up on the phone, Quinn brought up the Lone Star Brahmas as a possibility for this season. We had a good laugh once I told him I was also planning to visit the Brahmas.”
They kept each other informed of their discussions with the Brahmas as the summer progressed. While he knew there was a possibility of making the move with Carroll, Hanson was still faced with a difficult decision leaving Kemptville. “I had a great relationship there with all of my teammates and Ron Tugnutt, but after coming to North Richland Hills to meet Coach Wildfong and Coach Potter I was sold on coming here,” he recounted. “I really appreciate what both of them have to offer as coaches and the shared goal of the organization.” Once the decision was made, Hanson was excited that he and Carroll eventually ended up in Brahmaland together. Having a familiar face in the locker room has been invaluable. Carroll was raised in the DFW area and has helped Hanson with some of the more important aspects of the move. “It has been nice having the local knowledge,” said Hanson. “He’s introduced me to “Tex-Mex” and knows all the good BBQ spots in town.”
“I’ve tried to model my game after my favorite player Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators. He uses his size and plays mean defensively.”
With a mother who was a former professional figure skating coach, Hanson has grown up around the rink and began playing hockey at the age of five. He took a lot of inspiration from his family during his development. “I was blessed with a very supportive and motivating family. My grandparents, aunts and uncles always came to games with my parents. I always wanted to impress them and make them proud of me.” That desire pushed him to constantly improve his game as he climbed through the ranks.
Wildfong’s system stresses strong physical play in the corners and winning puck battles, so Hanson fits right in with the Brahmas. He is a two-way defenseman who prides himself on playing solid, hard defense and winning puck battles. He sees the ice well and will contribute offensively with good puck movement and work on the power play. “I’ve tried to model my game after my favorite player Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators,” he said. “He uses his size and plays mean defensively.”
During his first season with Kemptville, Hanson played well on the blueline and chipped in 11 points along the way. To round out his game and become a more complete player, he knew he needed to pick things up a bit on the offensive front. So, he focused all summer on honing his offensive skills while training in Ottawa. The hard work paid dividends as he doubled his output scoring 23 points on 6G – 17A with five of those points coming with the man advantage. “Contributing more offensively was definitely a goal of mine going into last season. I was very happy to get results from my work last year and really looking forward to building off that this coming year.”
While the Brahmas organization will benefit from having Hayden on the ice, the community of North Richland Hills will also benefit from him being here. Following the conclusion of last season the Kemptville organization honored Hanson with the Carl Patterson Community Service Award. “Community service or volunteering is something that I have always participated or been involved in. It’s great that junior organizations such as the Brahmas make sure their players are involved in the community,” he said. Hanson feels it is important to give back to the area and fans. He looks for organizations the help those less fortunate or those suffering from mental disabilities and simply spends time with them. “In my experience a few hours of the week or building a relationship with somebody goes a long way to improve their lives. Since I began playing junior hockey, I’ve always felt it’s important to leave the town and team better than when I arrived.”
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Hanson will be entering his final season of Junior eligibility and was asked where he sees him self once the Brahmas’ season ends. “I hope that I’ve had a great personal season and earned a college commitment while helping the team as much as possible. But more than anything I hope the team has success. I really want to win something. To this point in my career I have never been a champion. With the team, staff and ownership we have this season, I believe the opportunity is there. For myself and the other twenty year olds, this may be the only chance in our career to achieve that goal.”
While Hayden may have not had the joy of hoisting a cup, he has already proven himself a champion with his community service and dedication to the game. Hopefully the season ending celebration he seeks will come this spring in a Brahmas sweater.