Hayes making most of fresh start in Utah
When Ryan Hayes was traded to the Utah Grizzlies from the Stockton Thunder earlier this season, he had no idea the region was so picturesque.
“I actually arrived here at night, so I couldn’t see the mountains or anything,” said Hayes, a fifth-year pro out of Syracuse, N.Y. “Then the next morning, when I woke up, I saw all the scenery.”
Hayes played in Stockton since the 2012-13 season and, 37 games into this year, he felt a change was needed and the trade was processed.
“Things weren’t going well for me personally and both coaches (Rich Kromm with Stockton and Tim Branham with the Grizzlies) felt I needed a fresh opportunity,” Hayes said of the deal.
“It’s been great here so far; we get great crowds (at Maverik Center) and it’s a great setup.”
For the 25-year-old Hayes, the change worked. This season in Stockton, he scored 10 goals; once he joined the Grizzlies, he scored that many in just 19 games.
Prior to turning pro – he’s spent all five of his seasons in the ECHL – Hayes played two years with the U.S. National Team Development Program (2005-07) and three with the Ontario Hockey League’s Plymouth Whalers.
“I have a lot of friends from high school who used to play sports and now have real jobs,” Hayes said. “They all tell me to keep doing what I’m doing.
“I actually moved away from home when I was 14 (to play junior hockey) and, since I’ve turned pro, I’ve been all over the U.S.”
And for Hayes, his experiences have been well worth the travels.
“I’ve definitely put a lot of hours in on the bus, I can say that, but it’s been great,” he said.
– Matt Mackinder