Eatonia native Cade Hayes is currently in his second season with the Moose Jaw Warriors. He has 2 goals and 3 assists so far in 11 games, and was held out of a few games recently due to a nagging injury. Hayes played 48 games as a rookie last season in Moose Jaw, scoring 7 goals and collecting 9 assists.
Hayes is the only WHL player we have spoke with from west central that is not a rookie. Thankfully he got his first year out of the way last season, as making your junior debut could be a bit intimidating in the bubble.
“Last year it took a little while to get used to things for sure.” explained Hayes.
He says it took around half of his games played last season to adjust to the leagues speed in comparison to midget.
“It definitely would be tough on the rookies this year with such a short season coming into the WHL. They have done a pretty good job, but for sure it would have been way tougher trying to do that as a rookie.”
Hayes feels he has had an up-and-down start to the season thanks to the injury that kept him out about a week, but positive play has been noticed from the second year forward during his time in the lineup. He is listed as a centre but has spent a majority of his time on the wing this year, racking up plenty of shots with 24 SOG in his 11 contests.
There is no question that players were fired up and ready for when the Regina bubble was announced, but one has to think of where the motivation comes from after that. The 2021 Memorial Cup was officially canceled for the second year in a row, and strict 24 game schedules with no playoffs is the format all WHL leagues are going for. Some teams may be frustrated to miss their shot at the cup, but Hayes admitted that for Moose Jaw this could be a major development year.
“We want to take every opportunity we can get to get better and grow as a team. We have a pretty young team,” said Hayes, “Most of these guys will be back next year so I think we have to use this time to bond together, work together as a team, and build for next year. Every one of these games means something, and at the end of the day even though there are no playoffs we want to finish as high as we can.”
The Warriors are currently battling in the standings with the Prince Albert Raiders for what would be the first wild card spot in a normal season. Hayes mentioned that him and Kindersley native Logan Linklater are good buddies, and the two actually met up last night in a battle of west central players, with Prince Albert taking the two points.
With Cade’s previous comments about entering the league as a rookie, especially in the bubble, it was important we asked his opinion on junior hockey’s newest wonder-kid in Connor Bedard.
“He’s pretty unreal”, said Hayes with a laugh, who has obviously seen the player first hand, “He does a lot of crazy stuff out there, just little stuff that makes him so good, and his shot is pretty unreal as well.”
Bedard is no doubt one of the smallest players on the ice every night at only 15 years old, but that doesn’t stop him from playing a complete game and honestly not being too flashy of a player said Hayes. He then doubled down on Bedard’s shot, and vision on the ice.
Hayes is our latest feature on west central talent in the WHL, and while talking about Bedard is fun and you should remember the name, some great stuff has come out of checking in on our local prospects.