When Eriah Hayes arrived in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) in Topeka in 2007, he was a celebrated multi-sport athlete in his hometown of La Crescent, Minnesota, who was just beginning the journey that would lead him to recently sign a contract with the San Jose Sharks.
Head Coach Scott Langer knew he had something special in Hayes who, at 6’3” and 210 lbs, was a formidable 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. The fact that he’s signing at age 25 is a testament to his persistence, perseverance and drive to constantly improve his game. From Day One, there was never a question that Eriah had all the tools to play in the NHL.”
In his lone season as a RoadRunner (2007-2008), Hayes amassed 30 goals, 26 assists, 10 postseason points and averaged over a point-per-game. He played on the “Grey Battalion” line with future Division I recruits Steve Shafer (Canisius) and Bryon Paulazzo (Miami-Ohio).
The following season, Hayes was drafted by the USHL’s Waterloo Black Hawks where he posted 27 goals along with 18 assists. For college, Hayes chose Minnesota State-Mankato where he eventually earned the title of captain in his senior year.
Over time, he attracted the attention of NHL scouts and was twice invited to attend Chicago Black Hawks Prospect Camps. Now he has signed a two-year, two-way deal with the San Jose Sharks of the National Hockey League. Eriah Hayes is the third RoadRunner to sign an NHL contract, following Joel Rechlicz (now with Washington) and Cole Schneider (Ottawa).