Hayward, Syracuse aiming high
"It definitely helps to have some talented players, but talent (alone) does not win you hockey games. Since day one, we have grown as a team, everybody is working hard day in, day out," said Connor Treacy, head coach of the Syracuse men's hockey team and a former collegiate hockey player whose post-collegiate career included playing in the European leagues.
Among those talented Syracuse players is junior forward Peter-Owen Hayward, who leads Syracuse's offense this season with 15 goals and 10 assists for 25 points in 16 games, including a game-winning goal against University of Rhode Island. Hayward has led the team in scoring since his freshman year, averaging a goal per game with a record of 75 goals and 55 assists for 130 points in 74 games, including seven game winners. Currently, he is eighth in the ESCHL scoring. In his freshman year, Hayward was the first Syracuse player ever selected to the ACHA Rookie All-Star Team, earned the MVP award from both Syracuse and the Northeast Hockey Collegiate League Association, and was a NHCLA Scholar-Athlete Award recipient. During the past season, he was named to the ESCHL 2017-2018 All-League 2ndTeam.
Hayward echoes the importance of growing as a team.
"It feels good to be able to come through," Hayward said. "But honestly, this year, even more than years past It is just how the team is doing, it is the success of the team. I do not care if I have five points or no points. If we go out there and get a win, that's the best feeling."
The club has high aspirations for this season, perhaps more so than any other year previously. Previously a regular season champion of the North Eastern College Hockey League (NECHL), Syracuse has moved into the more competitive Eastern States Collegiate Hockey League (ESCHL). In only its second season in the ESCHL Syracuse is seeking its first league championship along with its highest national ranking to date.
The ultimate challenge is winning the national tournament. The top 20 teams of the 60 total in Syracuse's division qualify for a trip to Frisco, Texas in March. Syracuse has been to the national tournament three times before, once in Hayward's freshman year, but has never advanced beyond the second round.
Hayward believes this year's group could be the best Syracuse men's hockey team ever.
"We have got four strong lines," Hayward said. "We have got solid defensive corps back there, we have got strong goaltending. I think we are the most talented team top-to-bottom that we have ever been. Everyone on this team believes that we can win the national championship."
As a former Brattleboro Youth Hockey Association (BYHA) player, Hayward teamed up with the likes of Laura Rollins, Ryan Little and Cam Wright to capture various state and regional titles. Hayward was a seven-year Vermont Select All-Star, played on the Massachusetts State U-18 Champion with the Rifles and spent a year with the Junior Bruins before heading to Syracuse University where he is enrolled in both The Whitman School of Management degree program majoring in Finance and in the Newhouse School of Communications degree program majoring in Marketing. He holds a 3.7 Grand Point Average and has achieved Dean's List honors standings every semester.
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