Capital choice for Ridley winger
Luke Haymes has set the bar high for his first season in the British Columbia Hockey League.
The 17-year-old Ridley College student has committed to the Cowichan Valley Capitals for the 2021/22 season and believes he can make an immediate impact with his new team.
“My role will be pretty good to start and then I’ll be able to work my way up, which is nice,” the 6-foot-1, 176-pound forward said. “I really think I’ll be able to surprise people at the start of the year and sort of make people second guess not taking me earlier.
“I think I have developed a lot and I think I will be a really valuable player in the BCHL.”
Haymes chalks up much of his optimism to an extra season of development with games cancelled due to COVID and more practice time available at Ridley.
“I think this year has been super beneficial for me as a player,” said Haymes, a native of Ottawa. “Coach (Mike) McCourt has done a great job developing players through the pandemic with everything being super unique. He still finds ways to develop us.
“I think this year has been my biggest step as a hockey player, just regarding speed, vision, scoring touch. I think everything like that has improved tremendously.”
Haymes was selected in the eighth round (160th overall) of the 2019 Ontario Hockey League draft by the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, but opted to attend Ridley in order to keep his options open.
“I really did want to develop and play in a year older (situation) so I began looking at prep schools and the prep system because it’s a gateway to the NCAA and obviously Ridley is one of the top prep schools in Canada,” he said. “Ridley was a place I looked where I could develop. Coach McCourt knows the ins and outs of hockey and I really wanted to pick his brain and get everything I could from him and develop myself as a hockey player.
“He has kept hockey players positive this year and that’s really hard for hockey players who just want to play. It was a great decision.”
Haymes quickly fit in at Ridley where he collected 12 goals and 31 points in 29 games in his Grade 11 season.
“Luke is another player who has developed extremely well in this environment,” McCourt said. “Luke possesses great vision and can distribute the puck and make plays at a very high level. What may be more impressive is that he has made a concerted effort to round out his game and become a more complete player with a focus on his play both with and without the puck.
“We are extremely proud of him and know he is well prepared for making that next step.”
Haymes and his parents did their due diligence when researching teams.
“We were familiar with the BCHL because we’ve talked to quite a few teams from the league,” Haymes said. “We were doing research all along. My friend played there and he was able to provide some insight which was helpful.
“I thought it was the best fit for myself and my development and being able to commit to the NCAA next year or the year after depending on my development and what the school wants.”
Haymes also hit it off with Cowichan coach Brian Passmore on a couple of Zoom calls.
“He told me about how it works with the team and organization and what he expects me to be for them next year,” Haymes said. “We had another with my parents and talked about everything.”
Haymes plans a busy summer.
“There is no rest for me. I think the biggest thing is training to play with men next year. It’s moving from prep hockey, which is really good, to a whole different animal in the BCHL which is grown men and guys who can physically dominate. I think I have grown here physically as well as on the ice.”
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