by Brett Wiseman



The Blue Ridge Bobcats today are proud and excited to announce two signings that will further bolster the team's already strong core of defenseman for the 2024-2025 season. The Bobcats have re-signed D Steven Ford and signed D Filip Hlavac.
Ford, a 5'10" 185lb bruising blue-liner, skated in 19 games for Blue Ridge last season after being acquired via trade from the Elmira River Sharks on February 21st.
Steven is a one of a kind player that every team needs," said Bobcats Head Coach Vojtech Zemlicka. "He’s a versatile player who can play both defense and offense and is great at shutting down opposite team offense and making sure no one gets close to our goaltenders."
 "This year we are looking to be grittier and more physical," Zemlicka continued. "Simply said we are going to be tough to play against and that’s why Steven is such a important piece to this team. He brings physicality and grit to our back end but he will also protect his teammates out there."
The Richardson, TX native showed skill, smarts and toughness over those 19 games, picking up 4 assists and accruing 121 penalty minutes. In 59 total career FPHL games with Elmira and Blue Ridge, the 26 year old has potted 14 points (4 goals, 10 assists) and racked up 261 penalty minutes.
"This team is going to surprise everyone," said Ford. "In order to win championships, you need depth and we have that from our forwards, D and goaltending."
 "I think our fans are the greatest in the league and they will see a winning team in Wytheville," Ford continued. "I’m thankful to be a part of this organization and can’t wait to be back."
“Ford is a guy who can skate well and get under the opponent's skin," said Bobcats Executive Vice President of Operations Jimmy Milliken. He’s definitely not afraid to drop the mitts as well.” 
Ford played his collegiate hockey at NCAA DIII Morrisville State, and was teammates on the Mustangs with current Bobcats F Jonas Leas and G Owen Liskiewicz.
Hlavac, a 6'2" 185lb native of Ostrava, CZE comes to the Bobcats and the FPHL from HC Poruba of the Czech 2 league, widely regarded as one of the highest professional levels in Europe. The 21 year old put up 18 points (3 goals, 15 assists) last season.
"Filip comes to us highly recommended from our friend and Florida Panther European Scout Andre Niec," said Milliken. "He’s a very skilled defenseman with good size. We look forward to seeing what Filip can do in a Bobcats uniform."
"Andre told me about Filip and asked me if I could bring him to North America and once I watched video on him there were no hesitations," said Zemlicka. "Filip competed against ECHL caliber players in Czech 2 and the way he breaks out the puck from D-zone and makes great outlet passes to create offensive rushes is going to be big for us."
"I’m grateful for the opportunity to play for Bobcats," said Hlavac. "I hope that I will make a difference on and off the ice with my work ethic. I’ve heard that the fans are amazing so I’m pretty excited to play for them!"
The Bobcats have also traded defenseman Cody Oakes to the Baton Rouge Zydeco for future considerations. The Bobcats would like to thank Cody for his contributions to the club and the community and wish him the best of luck in Baton Rouge.
You can follow all the Bobcats moves via the "Aschenbach Automotive Group Transaction Tracker", which is available to subscribers of "The Claw", the Bobcats weekly email newsletter. To sign up for "The Claw", visit

Season ticket packages are on-sale for the Bobcats forthcoming second season, and payment plans are available. Existing season ticket holders can now begin selecting their seats from the new 3,650 capacity before construction is completed in September. Season ticket holders enjoy exclusive perks and priority seat selection. Call 276-335-2100 or visit for more information.