“This is the last opportunity I will have at Yale. I want to stay in the now and just embrace it.”
Finishing his college career on a high note is definitely on 2013 draft pick John Hayden’s mind. The rising senior led the Bulldogs with 16 goals and 23 points last season and is striving to get even better this year. In addition to helping the program win another national championship, Hayden wants to focus on rounding out his entire game during his senior season at Yale.
“I want to make more strides to becoming a pro hockey player and really improve each week,” he said.
Hayden said the decision to stay at Yale one more season was best for his development as a hockey player and as a person. “Obviously it’s a dream come true to sign a pro contract, specifically with a great organization like Chicago, but thankfully pro hockey will still be there when I’ve graduated,” he said.
Hayden’s sweater will have a new look this season too, as he will be sporting a ‘C’ on his chest.
The 21-year-old is looking forward to his new leadership position after being named captain by his teammates. Hayden says he’s honored and is taking the role seriously in order to help his team succeed.
“Leadership is really a team effort, so I’m looking forward to leading my teammates, specifically the seniors,” he said. “My goal is to lead by example in the locker room and on the ice, and if I do that and everyone buys in, I think we have a great chance of success.”
Miami University (Ohio) senior Anthony Louis is having a similar summer to Hayden, as both players prepare for their last year of collegiate hockey.
Louis is taking his upcoming season to prepare for his pro career while also helping the RedHawks reach their highest potential.
“We obviously want to win a national championship, but we say at Miami that we want to leave the program better than we found it, so going into my senior year I want to have great success, even better than the three years prior,” Louis said.
The Winfield, Ill., native and 2013 draft pick posted 26 points (11G, 15A) last season to lead the RedHawks and said he has seen improvements in his game each year: “I’ve definitely gained strength, and my confidence is getting better. Everything is kind of flowing together.”
It has yet to be decided if Louis will be named a captain, but he said he is prepared to lead the team regardless.
“We have 14 freshmen coming in, so it’s going to be important for me to lead by example and show them the ropes,” he explained.
Both Hayden and Louis are in attendance at their fourth Blackhawks Prospect Camp, but this time are part of the Entry Level Contract group where they have the chance to test their skills against professional players, some of whom have NHL experience.
“It’s great playing with all of these guys,” Hayden said. “It’s a different week without the intense scrimmaging, but I think it’s great for my development.”
Hayden and Louis have the next year planned out for them as they head back to school—battle for a national title and walk away with a degree—but only time will tell where these prospects will be a year from now.