Edinburgh Capitals forward Ryan Hayes puts the competitive nature that has helped him to be top scorer in ice hockey’s Elite League down to being “soundly beaten at everything” by older brother Mike when growing up.
The American has turned heads up and down the country after posting 16 goals and 11 assists in 20 games since joining caps from East Coast Hockey League side Utah Grizzlies.
He said: “I’ve played in a lot of places and I’ve seen a lot of different types of leaders, so I’m just trying to set an example for the younger guys and build that part of my game.
“I work hard every day on the ice and do everything to push people for competition whether in games or in practice. I’m just really competitive – at everything.
“I mean I still throw my putter playing mini-golf. It all started with my older brother Mike who never let me win, beating me at everything growing up, and he made me clean up after every time I lost.
“We used to play street hockey and when I finally got better the tides turned. He had me on toast for a long time, but I finally got to beat him.”
With the season now in its third month, it has not taken long for 26-year-old Hayes, along with line-mates Taylor Dickin and Craig McCallum, to look at home on the big ice sheet at Murrayfield, where Edinburgh have won their last five games.
Although Hayes admits he was not always so comfortable in a pair of skates.
“My parents first took me skating when I was five,” said Hayes “That first time I just hated it. I was crying and I just wanted to get off the ice, we went a couple more times and I enjoyed it. Skating progressed to hockey and I’ve loved it ever since.”
Hayes was full of praise for Dickin and McCallum, who both joined Edinburgh this season straight from Canadian college hockey, as he continued: “We’re the same age, we all played Junior but they went into the Canadian college system. They’re both doing really well and competing in their first pro-year in a different way to what I could have done. To come over to Europe is a big move and they’re both doing really well for themselves which is awesome.”
On his own decision to move from his home in Syracuse, New York to Edinburgh, he said: “It was the right time. I’m still young and traveling is something I’ve always wanted to do. I was kind of stuck in the same place in North America so I’ve come over here to start my career in Europe.
“Coming to Edinburgh was a big decision but I knew Riley (player-coach Riley Emmerson) had an idea for the team and needed a player to fill my role, we talked a lot and I wanted to come over to play as much as I can and learn. I just felt this would be a good opportunity to jump-start my career. My ultimate goal would be one of the top European leagues like Sweden or Switzerland, there are so many good players in every country that you really need to work your way up the ladder. This year I really just want to focus on succeeding with Edinburgh and we’ll see what happens after that.”
Coming off the back of last week’s three-game English road-trip where they picked up just one point from the six on offer, Caps travel to Fife Flyers for an eagerly anticipated Forth derby, before entertaining Sheffield Steelers at Murrayfield on Sunday (face-off 5:30pm), as Edinburgh aim for a club record sixth straight home win.