SOUHEGAN HIGH of Amherst senior captain Michael Hayden leads his team in more ways than one.
Hayden had seven goals and seven assists heading into Wednesday night's game against ConVal of Peterborough, tops on the Sabers roster. But the second-year captain is a leader on more than the scoresheet.
"We love to have him on this team. He was a captain last year, but now he's proven to us even more this year that he can be a leader on this team and bring us to a victory when we need it," said Souhegan head coach Dan Belliveau. "We look to him in all situations to provide that leadership. He's a good hockey player. One of the best I've seen."
Hayden has led the Sabers to a 4-1-0 record in Division III and said he enjoys being a leader.
"It's a real honor to wear that 'C' on your chest. It's always nice having kids looking up to you and following your lead," Hayden said. "I try to set the best example I can on the ice, skating hard."
Belliveau points to Hayden's unselfish play as one of his best traits.
"Michael Hayden is obviously one of the better players in the state of New Hampshire. What makes him even better is that he takes his teammates on his shoulders. He's never selfish," Belliveau said. "He's a team leader and he makes the other kids better around him with his leadership. They'll go as he goes."
Hayden said that the morale of the team comes first for him.
"I always like to think I skate as hard as I can when I'm on the ice and I look for the pass before I look for the shot because I like to get my linemates in the play to keep their confidence level up," he said. "That seems to help with the team chemistry and overall game play."
As for his future beyond his senior year, Hayden said education will be his priority.
"I'm looking at colleges but I'll probably end up playing club hockey. I haven't thought about juniors," he said. "I'm looking for a good education and I want to play hockey for sure, but I'm not sure I can compete at the varsity level (in college) right now."
WEATHERING THE STORM: It's been a tough start to the year for the Bishop Guertin of Nashua girls' hockey team, and it has little to do with anything on the ice.
The Cardinals enter today's game against visiting Exeter with a 2-0-0 record and two solid wins, 7-0 over ConVal and 10-2 over Souhegan. But bad weather has forced the postponement of three other games.
After the game with Exeter (1-2-0), Bishop Guertin will be tested by powerhouse Hanover (3-0-0) on the road Saturday and Lebanon (5-0) at home on Monday.
OPERATION HAT TRICK: On Jan. 4, the Merrimack High School boys' hockey team hosted Oyster River of Durham on Military Appreciation Night with proceeds going to Operation Hat Trick, an organization that generates support, awareness and finding for the recovery of America's wounded warriors. For more information, visit operationhattrick.com.
Ian Clark covers high school hockey for the New Hampshire Union Leader and Sunday News. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.