(Marc Smith/DiscoverMooseJaw) Cade Hayes has had a great season so far with the Tisdale Trojans but the Moose Jaw Warriors prospect is hoping to finish things off with a national championship.
Hayes and the Trojans are in Thunder Bay, Ont. this week for the 2019 Telus Cup midget ‘AAA’ national championship.
“We think we can win it,” said Hayes.
Hayes had an incredible season with the Trojans, leading the team with 23 goals and 58 points during 43 regular season games. He added three goals and four points during seven playoff games.
At the Western Regional, Hayes finished with two goals and five points over four games.
The Warriors’ 2017 eighth-round pick said that confidence was a big part of his success during the season.
“Just playing in the league last year and coming back as a veteran this year, it really helped me make some plays that I wasn’t confident enough to do last year and training over the summer helped me get better,” said Hayes.
Hayes also dressed in two preseason games with the Warriors for his first taste of WHL action. He said his time in Moose Jaw during training camp really helped him hit the ground running this season.
“I was battling against guys 3-4 years older than me, so I had to work my hardest just to keep up with them and then coming back to AAA Midget, I was playing against guys my age and it benefited me to be working my hardest,” said Hayes.
The Trojans advanced to the Telus Cup after winning the Western regional championship at the start of the month, beating the Telus Cup-hosting Thunder Bay Kings in the final.
“It’s kind of hard to put the feeling into words, we ended up winning in overtime and seeing that goal go in, it was unreal,” said Hayes. “We’re such a close-knit group of guys and to do it with them, it’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Tisdale lost out of the Saskatchewan Midget AAA Hockey League playoffs in the semifinals to the Saskatoon Blazers, but they used that time to fine tune their game and get ready for a run at the national championship.
Heading into the national championship, the Trojans have only seen what the Kings have to offer, but the other four teams bring some unknown. Hayes said Tisdale needs to focus on playing their best game.
“We’re not sure what the teams are going to be like there, so we’re just going to come prepared mentally and physically and see what happens,” he said.
“When we’re playing our best, everyone is working as hard as they can,” Hayes added. “The third and fourth line guys are doing their job, grinding, and our top end guys are scoring and we’re clicking together as a group.”
To come away with the national championship, a team must be on top of their game for seven games over seven days. Hayes said that will be the biggest challenge.
“It’s going to be a grind,” he said. “We’re just going to have to worry about ourselves and make sure we’re playing our best hockey.”
Hayes and the Trojans open the Telus Cup against Quebec’s Cantonniers de Magog on Monday at 2 p.m.