By David Benoit
Special to the Reporter
Every day, Jimmy Hayes puts on his hockey pads,
laces up his skates, and dons his country's hockey
jersey. As a member of the under-18 team at the
National Team Development Program, Hayes is one of
a select few that get to play day in and day out
for the good old U.S. of A. But the forward still
hasn't forgotten about Dorchester, the place he
grew up playing on ice.
"I think Dorchester hockey was a huge influence,
just to have a chance to play and stuff," he said
recently, remembering his time playing for
Dorchester Youth Hockey and on a traveling team in
the Metropolitan Boston Hockey League.
"[Massachusetts was] definitely one of the
bigger hockey states, being from Massachusetts has
also helped, being able to compete against some of
the best in the country."
When Hayes first started skating, it was his
grandfather pushing him along.
"I started skating when I was like two in
Charlestown with my grandfather and with my
neighbor, Timmy Berardinelli," Hayes recalled.
"There was a lot of hockey on my mom's side."
Some of that hockey blood comes from his second
cousin Tom Fitzgerald, who played seventeen seasons
in the National Hockey League, finishing his career
with his hometown Boston Bruins. For Hayes, having
experience like that in his family was invaluable
in getting him where he is today -Ann Arbor,
Michigan, with some of the best young talent in the
"It's a program where they invite twenty-two
kids on each team to come play," Hayes said. He has
been out there for two years, both times on the
programs under-eighteen club -they also run an
under-seventeen team. "We are traveling every
weekend, and we just go to regular high school in
But it is a bit more than just playing hockey.
The team plays close to fifty games a season
against top colleges, programs in the country and
teams on the international scene.
"I like to play just because I like the whole
competitive nature that you get to play every day,"
he said. "And anytime you get to play for your
country every weekend, not many guys that kind of
The program has created some special memories
for the 6-foot, 3-inch, 205 pound forward.
"Last year my team we went to Finland and World
Under-eighteens, we lost in the finals, six to
five, but to be considered one of the top in the
world was special," he says. He also holds another
loss from his past pretty close. "The moment I
remember was my squirt A's, and we went to the
state tournament and ended up losing in state
semi-finals, but it was maybe the first Dorchester
team to get that far."
Next year Hayes will be attending Boston College
to play for one of the best college teams in the
country and a future Hall of Fame coach in the
Eagles' Jerry York.
"I am just looking forward to being part of that
hockey team, to be part of that team and that
program is huge," Hayes said, but he was also quick
to say it's about more than hockey at Chestnut
Hill. "I chose BC just because both the education
and hockey wise, it would be the best
more the school than hockey."
After BC the sky seems to be the limit for
Hayes, some NHL experts and scouts have him being
drafted high in this spring's NHL lottery. He says
he models himself after another New England star,
forward Keith Tkachuk, an all-star out of Boston
University. At this point in his career it looks as
if he will play professional, but there are so many
ifs in hockey, no one can say for sure. He tries
not to think about it, though he acknowledged he
can't easily escape it.
"Sometimes it's hard to, but it does put some
unnecessary pressure on things. There are a lot of
high end players here [in Ann Arbor]," he
said, though always remaining wary. "Yeah, I'm
predicted to get drafted, but that could
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