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The Secret to Gavin Hayes Success? ‘He’s Eager to Learn’

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Flint Firebirds forward and Chicago Blackhawks prospect Gavin Hayes has registered a point in twelve consecutive games. His 17 points (10-7) is ahead of last year’s pace by a point, while potting a pair of goals more. He’s third in the league in game winning goals and in the top 10 for goals in the league.

It’s been another great start for him.

The kid who put up 41 last season is on pace for 47. Amongst the Ontario Hockey League Blackhawks prospects that includes the likes of Paul Ludwinski, Martin Misiak, and Nick Lardis, Hayes leads the pack.

Chicago looks to maybe have hit big on the 2022 third round pick who continues to put up points in bunches.

But beyond the great hockey player, according to Firebirds head coach Paul Flache, there’s an even better human being.

“We talk about the hockey all the time, but he’s an even better person,” Flache said. “He’s always listening and he’s eager to learn. He’s a great role model for younger guys to watch and how he handles himself how and how he trains off the ice. And just like I said, is receptive and very positive on the bench too, encouraging the guys.”

Hayes Taught To Go Enjoy The Game Every Day

The Westland, Michigan native grew up playing in a competitive youth hockey environment first with Compuware and then Honeybaked for a handful of games during the pandemic shortened season. While with Compuware, he was coached by former NHL goaltender Greg Stefan, who now serves as the Firebirds’ goalie coach. Stefan, always instructed his players to enjoy the game.

“He was big on being a pro,” Hayes said. “He was big on how you carry yourself to the rink, and always having a smile on your face. Always a great guy to talk to.”

Hayes’ numbers and production is likely putting a smile on the faces of not only his coaches, but the Blackhawks front office, too. Back in July when asked about Hayes, general manager Kyle Davidson talked about Hayes’ profieciency for finding the back of the net.

“Goal scoring is a really tough skill to come by,” Davidson said.  “And he’s one of those guys that has a knack for finding the back of the net and that’s very valuable.”

Flache can speak to that value personally. Hayes is one who always seems to find a way to score a goal–especially when the Firebirds are starving for one. He has the knack to score goals in a variety of ways.

“Definitely a knack in those situations when we need a goal,” Flache said. “If you look at a couple of the goals he’s scored, he was in front of the net ready for a tip. Or, if starting a rush, he keeps possession, gets it to his linemates, and he pops out for a one timer and then he’s able to finish those off. So I just think having the speed and the creativity to release it quick–he’s really dynamic when it comes to that.”

Gavin Hayes’ Goal? Win it All

But the individual accolades are secondary to what Hayes is looking for. Representing the United States and the summer showcase could mean a return trip in December–this time to be a member of the World Junior Championships squad. Calling it an “honor” to represent the Stars and Stripes, Hayes is focused on his play now and will let the chips fall as they may. That means honing in on his work with Flint, who during his 12-game point streak, is 7-4-1.

His main goal is team oriented, but he’s also set the bar high for himself.

“Obviously winning a championship would be awesome,” Hayes said. “For myself, I think just beating what I did last year–maybe more in points. I know it’s gonna be hard to score 40 again, but it can be done. But kind of not focused on the stats and stuff. Every game just kind of focused on playing well and doing the right things–which which will carry over to goals and assists and stuff like that.”

Named an alternate captain, Flache speaks to his leadership and team-first effort mentality that ultimately leads to the success he and his teammates have seen on the ice.

Gavin Hayes looks and sounds like the real deal.

“He’s really a student of the game,” Flache said.  “But when you get on the bench is encouraging.  He’s like, ‘Hey watch this here’ or he’s talking to his teammates about things that they can do or he’s just building guys up. He’ll be the guy that gives him a pat on the back or something. So just love that about him.”

Seems the Blackhawks and their fans will, too.

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