TISDALE — Playing in the Western Hockey League exhibition season helped set the stage for Cade Hayes to have a successful campaign with the Tisdale Trojans.
The Moose Jaw Warriors kept the 16-year-old after their fall camp. He stayed at a billet home and played in some exhibition games. Hayes said the experience benefitted him greatly.
“Staying in Moose Jaw helped a lot because I was practicing with guys that were three or four years older than me every day and it made me work even harder to try and keep up with them,” he said. “Also, just being around the whole team and watching what they do and how they act helped me mature and become a better person as well as a hockey player.”
Hayes has been a big part of the Trojans’ success this season. The Eatonia product paces the team in scoring with 50 points.
“He is a very smart hockey player,” Tisdale head coach Darrell Mann said. “He understands where to be and where to go to make plays. Makes everyone on the ice better players. He has definitely been a leader off and on the ice. We hope he can continue to do that and continue to put up numbers for us.”
The Trojans bench boss said that Hayes leads by the way he plays. He is an offensive catalyst who has been able to consistently produce points.
The 5-foot-10, 180-pound Hayes has already surpassed the 36 points he posted as a rookie. His 31 assists are almost double the 17 he had last season. When asked what has allowed him to put up points, Hayes said:
“Just working hard and I owe a lot of credit to my teammates as well they are always able to find me or I can find them for goals so I couldn’t have done it without them. Also, just working on little things like my shot and my hands have allowed me to put up a few more points this year.”
Hayes is tied with Trenton Curtis for the Trojans’ lead in goals with 19 this season. That matches what he had last year. Hayes has been a centrepiece of the Tisdale power play all season. He is second on the team with nine power-play goals. Mann praised Hayes’ shot and release.
“He definitely has one of the better shots in the league,” the head coach said. “It is a nice wrist shot. Something a little old school - you don’t see that a lot nowadays. That’s how he scores a lot of his goals.”
Hayes has attracted attention from junior teams. He was an eighth-round draft pick of the Warriors in 2017. That same year the Melfort Mustangs tabbed him 11th overall in the first round of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League draft. He was unable to attend the Mustangs’ fall camp in 2018 because he was still in Moose Jaw.
For now, Hayes is having fun in Tisdale. He billets with Tammy Taylor and her children Morgan and Brody. What does he enjoy about playing for the Trojans?
“I just enjoy being around the team every day,” Hayes said. “No matter what we do, we are always having fun together and we have a very good team this year. I enjoy every game and all the fans that fill the RECplex to support us.”