La Crescent native Eriah Hayes is on the cusp of making his NHL dream come true. However, Mother Nature isn’t making it easy.
The San Jose Sharks have called up La Crescent High School’s all-time leading scorer from the Worcester (Mass.) Sharks, but a winter storm is sweeping through the east coast and could’ve affect Hayes’ availability Saturday in Denver, where the Sharks will meet the Colorado Avalanche.
“For our community it’s huge,” La Crescent coach JP Piché said. “Every step he’s taken has been huge for our community. The community has been behind him the whole time.
“At each step he’s made, he’s had more followers. He’s sure made our community, our school and our hockey program proud.”
Hayes could not be reached for comment Jan. 3.
Piché said he communicated with Hayes on Twitter early Friday morning.
“We had a few tweets and I congratulated him,” Piché said. “I told him good luck and that we’re proud of him.”
CSNBayArea.com reported the Sharks (29-9-6) will be without forwards Tommy Wingels (upper body) and Tyler Kennedy (flu) for Saturday’s game, paving the way for Hayes to make his NHL debut.
Hayes, who had five goals, three assists and 25 penalty minutes in 29 games for the Worcester Sharks (AHL) this season, joins a San Jose team that is second in the Pacific Division and has won six of its last eight games.
Hayes, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound forward, signed a two-year deal with the Sharks last season. He was assigned to Worcester, where he finished out the season with three goals and one assist in seven games.
“From what I know, they’re trying to get him out Denver to get called up,” Piché said. “I know the weather is pretty bad out there (on the east coast). I know when we found out this morning nobody had taken into account the weather out there.”
It’s been a long road to the NHL for Hayes, 25, beginning with the Lancers.
After graduating from La Crescent with a school-record 240 points, he signed with the Topeka Roadrunners (NAHL). He quickly emerged as one of the league’s top rookies and by the next season was playing in the USHL with the Waterloo Blackhawks. Midway through the 2008 season, he committed to Minnesota State-Mankato.
He concluded his career with the Mavericks with 52 goals and 44 assists.