Towering Boston College sophomore Jimmy Hayes has developed into a dominant force in Hockey East this season. Hayes has played in all 40 games to date, posting 32 points (12 goals, 20 assists). In last weekend’s Northeast Regional final versus Yale, Hayes made NCAA Tournament Regionals history when he netted the quickest two goals just 23 seconds apart.
Hockey’s Future caught up with Jimmy Hayes at Ford Field after practice on Wednesday.
HF: How does it feel being in your very first Frozen Four?
JH: It’s unbelievable. You dream about being here as a little kid, so now I’m here and it feels great.
HF: What have been some of the things that the coaches have taught you that have helped you make strides in your game this season?
JH: I think the biggest thing for me this year was consistency. It was something that the coaches spoke with me about during the year and something that I’ve been trying to focus on. I think I’ve done a pretty good job with being as consistent as possible by showing up every day in a high-quality way and playing at the top level every night. I also give a lot credit for that to our four seniors – Carl Sneep (PIT), Matt Price, Matt Lombardi and Ben Smith (CHI). They’ve been terrific leaders for us every single day and they lead by example. They give 110 percent every night, so it makes you want to strive for that too.
HF: Those two goals that you scored 23 seconds apart last weekend against Yale — how did they come about?
JH: They were actually great plays by two of our defensemen. On the first one, Ben won the draw back to Eddie Shea. Eddie just read the play, took a shot that went wide. The puck bounced out and I was just in the right position to bank that one home. The next one was off of Phil Samuelsson (PIT). He held the puck right along the wall, then made a really nice pass in the middle to me and I just snapped it off and it beat their goalie. That game was pretty intense and we were out of our seats the whole time.
HF: You’ve been playing with Ben Smith and Chris Kreider, and it seems like you guys just feed off of one another so well. Can you talk a little about the chemistry that the three of you have that makes it all work?
JH: I think the chemistry has come a long way. We’re one of the bigger lines on our team and have just played well together. Chris has tremendous speed and Ben just brings his hard work and creativity to our line. I’m able to bring my big size and can go into the corners. So I think we all feed off of each other pretty well. We also try to keep playing at a high pace, which for us big guys it’s worked out pretty well lately.
HF: Does playing with Ben and Chris make it easier for you to play your game in that type of high-paced setting?
JH: Definitely. Chris’ speed sets the pace for a lot of games. It’s a really good asset that he has. Benny is an unbelievable goal-scorer and he opens up a lot of room for you too, so that’s made it easier for me.
HF: What do you feel is the one most underrated or underappreciated aspect of your game?
JH: I would say that I’m a pretty creative player. I think a lot of people think of me as just a power forward that goes to the net every time because I’m a big guy. But Ben and Chris have helped me to become more creative, so that has helped me along the way. I think it has also helped them as well.
HF: What did you learn from the experience of going to Maple Leafs camp last summer?
JH: It was an unbelievable experience. It was really well-run by their staff too. It’s fun to go to a camp like that because you get to see their other draft picks and their top-end guys and see what it takes to be able to play at that level.
HF: Have the Leafs been keeping in contact with you this year?
JH: No, there hasn’t really been any contact. They just kind of let me play my game, develop and just focus on being an Eagle right now.