The 2008 Topeka RoadRunners Rookie of the Year Eriah Hayes begins the 2014 season on the roster with the NHL's San Jose Sharks. The Sharks open their season tonight at Staples Center against the Los Angeles Kings. The game will be televised on NBC Sports Network.
Hayes made his NHL debut on January 5, 2014 with the Sharks in a nationally televised game in Chicago. His presence there was in part precipitated by a number of injuries on the San Jose roster, so Hayes was called up from the team's AHL affiliate in Worcester, MA. He stayed with the NHL club for 15 games, logging an average of 13 shifts and nearly 8 minutes of ice time per game. He scored his first NHL goal on January 30 in Calgary. (See the clip here: http://bit.ly/1pRhNDY) This season, the Sharks open the year with Hayes on their regular roster.
The native of La Crescent, MN, was a multi-sport athlete at home, and came to play for the RoadRunners in their inaugural season in Topeka. He scored 30 goals that year along with 26 assists, added another 10 points in the postseason in which Topeka advanced to the Robertson Cup Tournament, won the team Rookie of the Year honor, and was named to the NAHL All-Rookie team.
Head Coach Scott Langer knew he had someone special in Hayes, who at 6'3", 210 lbs. was a noticeable presence on the ice. "Eriah was a big power forward and a first-class athlete," recalled Langer of Hayes' time in Topeka. "Extremely hardworking, he started out as an in-and-out-of-the-lineup player and worked his way up. From day one, there was never a question that Eriah had all the tools to play in the NHL."
The following season he was drafted by the USHL's Waterloo Black Hawks where he put up 27 goals along with 18 assists. He decided on Minnesota State – Mankato for college where he would work toward being named a captain in his senior year. He signed a two-way contract with the Sharks in April 2013 and was assigned to the Worcester Sharks of the AHL, a team he led in shots on goal at the time he was first called up.