ST. PAUL (WXOW) -- The "C" on the left shoulder of his Minnesota State Mavericks sweater denotes Eriah Hayes as a captain on the ice. It's a role the La Crescent native said he takes well-beyond the locker room.
"I'm more of a leader by example," Hayes said.
His play certainly speaks for itself. Hayes scored his 20th goal of the season in last Thursday's 7-2 loss to eventual WCHA Champion Wisconsin, bringing his college total to 52 goals. Add that to 44 assists, and his 96 total points make Hayes Mankato's active scoring leader. But, like any top competitor, it's not quite enough.
Hayes assessed his performance after the game, "I got that one there, it felt good, but I was hoping we could get a couple more going there. We were down by three at that point, and a couple more would have been nice."
Always striving for more, Hayes will follow his college career by trying to become the first player from La Crescent to reach the NHL. He's already the first from the area to reach D1 hockey, and he said it's that small community support helping fuel his drive.
"It means a lot just to get a text message saying, 'good luck' or anything like that," said Hayes. "Having [friends and family] here means a lot to me. I just thank them for all the support."
Just as the support propels him, Hayes now hopes his words and actions help other skaters see they too can wear a D1 captain jersey and help put the Coulee Region on the hockey map.
"I play a lot of puck back home with guys in the Coulee Region--Onalaska kids, La Crescent guys. I think they might see me and say, 'Why can't I get there too?' I tell them that exact same thing because I got here. You can too. Why not?"
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