Boston College’s Kevin Hayes caught between limelight, shadows

It isn’t often that a fourth-liner warrants time on the power play. But Boston College isn’t your average hockey team and Kevin Hayes isn’t your average hockey player.

In BC’s Hockey East semifinal win over Northeastern on Friday, Hayes displayed both facets of his game. Playing on the fourth line with Patrick Brown and Brooks Dyroff — who between them have totaled a single point this year in limited time — Hayes was part of a trio that played in classic fourth-line fashion. Dump the puck, pound the defensemen and cycle it.

He also collected a perfect pass on the power play from his older brother, Jimmy Hayes, to score a critical second-period goal that gave the Eagles a 2-1 lead.

“Patrick Brown and Brooks Dyroff have not played a lot for us but are scrappy, hard-nosed, young guys,” BC coach Jerry York says. “Kevin has a world of skill and really understands the game very well. When he plays with that line, he adds a whole new element.”

Hayes, a 6-foot-3, 205-pound freshman, is willing to do whatever it takes. Even if playing regularly with Brown and Dyroff won’t enhance his stat line the way, say, his older brother would.

“We know going in we’re not there to score a lot of goals,” Hayes says. “We’re there to wear and tear down their defensemen, get the puck deep, get them tired and get off. We’re fine with that.”

Even if his role would be much larger wearing almost any other jersey.

“I just buy into whatever coach wants me to do,” he says. “Everyone buys in on this team. It’s a reason why we win a lot.”

It helps that Hayes is one of three sets of brothers on the Eagles.

“Whenever I’m down in the dumps, he’s always there to pick me up,” he says. “If I just want to go shoot with him, he’s always there.”

That bond extends beyond the ice rink.

“He helps me in life,” Kevin Hayes says. “He’s one of my biggest role models. I’ve always looked up to him. I always will. He’s been nothing but great to me.”

Since Jimmy Hayes ranks second on Boston College with 20 goals in this, his junior, season, the older Hayes offers quite the role model.

Sometimes, though, older brothers leave their younger counterparts in the shadows, struggling to emerge.

“He’s always been a good player, but I’ve never looked at it as being in his shadow and he’s never looked down on me,” Kevin Hayes says. “We’re both very, very competitive even at the house, but I’ve never looked at it that way and he certainly wouldn’t want me to feel that way. Even if I was in his shadow he’d want to get me out of there.”

And when it came to a power play in the Hockey East semis, Jimmy Hayes did what he often does back on campus at Kelley Rink.

“My brother always looks for me in practice,” Kevin Hayes says. “He always wants me to score.”

It worked in the second period. Jimmy Hayes found his not-so-little brother in the slot and the one-timer quickly found the back of the net.

Although Kevin Hayes added two more assists to give him 13 points on the year, York won’t find a swollen-headed freshman knocking on his door, expecting a move into the limelight.

“I’m just going to fill my role,” Hayes says. “Whenever I’m out there, I’m just going to go my hardest. I can’t control when I’m going to be out there, but I can control how hard I work.”