by Arch Ecker    

The Topeka RoadRunners are proud to announce second-year defenseman Tyler Hayes has committed to play Division I hockey for the Niagara University Purple Eagles beginning in the fall of 2016.

Hayes, at 5’11” and 175 lbs., is from Brighton, MI, and hit the ice at an early age.

“My brother wanted to play because his friends did”, Hayes recalls. “So I followed my brother and wanted to play just like him when I was 4 or 5 years old.” His style of play is a result of those formative years. “I have moved back and forth between defense and forward”, he said. “Most of my hockey career I played defense though.”

In his two seasons with the RoadRunners, he’s appeared in over 100 games. He was also selected to play in the NAHL’s Top Prospect Tournament this past February. The versatile playmaker has filled in as a winger when needed, and was named as an alternate captain this season.

RoadRunners Head Coach Josh Kamrass has been pleased with Hayes’ development during his stay with Topeka.

“He’s become a solid, every night player who contributes at both ends of the rink. Niagara is getting a top end player and he will be missed here, both on and off the ice.”

 Once he lands at Niagara University, he’ll begin pursuing his major, which at the moment is undecided.

“I would like to major in business, although I am still looking at options.”

Asked why he chose the Purple Eagles, Hayes explained, “Niagara has a great program, great academics, and the campus size is exactly what I am looking for. I am very excited to be a part of Niagara's program.”

He recognizes his ability to accomplish his goal of playing Division I hockey came in part because of the support he’s received along the way.

“I would like to thank the Stones (team owners Don and Barb), my coaches, and my teammates for helping me and supporting me through my junior career. I would also like to thank my parents for always believing in me and pushing me to be my best, as well as my billet family who has provided the environment I’ve needed to reach my dreams.”

Hayes becomes the fourth RoadRunner to join Niagara, following defensemen Kevin Ryan and Kevin Patterson, along with forward Sam Rennaker. He becomes the fifth current RoadRunner with a Division I commitment, joining Cam Strong (Dartmouth), Tyler Johnson (Maine), Sami Tavernier (Merrimack), and Johnny Walker (Arizona State).