BOSTON -- Kevin Hayes always had an NHL pedigree, but his game never fully clicked until this one, his final season in a Boston College uniform.
Hayes has the size and all the physical tools to make it in the NHL, and has an older brother, Jimmy, who is already there with the Florida Panthers.
Hayes plays on a line with the talk of college hockey, the clear-cut Hobey Baker Award favorite Johnny Gaudreau, and fellow senior Bill Arnold. The line has racked up points over the past few months like no line in college hockey has in a long, long time.
"We're best friends on and off the ice. It's pretty easy. We always know where each other are out there," said Hayes of his linemates.
Monday night the trio was at it again, combining for the game-winning goal in the second semifinal of the 62nd annual Beanpot Tournament against archrival Boston University. Gaudreau sent it to Arnold who winged it across to Hayes who found the back of the net for his 20th goal of the season.
Hayes, an imposing physical player standing at six-foot-three, didn't always play the bullish game that his coach knew he had to in order to be successful and take his game to the next level.
Northeastern advances to final with 6-0 win
For the second consecutive year Northeastern will play in the late game on the second Monday of February. The Huskies left no doubt they belonged in that game with a 6-0 win over Harvard on Monday night at the TD Garden in the first semifinal.
"He's really coming hard. He's a big strong kid. He just figured out that he's a big kid with strength and that's how he's got to play to be successful," explained York. "He's always fought that desire to toe drag it and be a fancy player. He's figured out that if he wants to play at this level and be really good, and have a chance to play at the next level that he's got to be more of a power player."
In addition to recognizing that he needed to change his game in order to be more successful, Hayes has also reaped the benefits of having a full summer to prepare for his senior season.
"This [past] summer coming off my leg injury I worked really hard with my trainer Russ DeRosa and got a lot stronger down below. I've just been trying to use my speed a lot and it's been working out for me," explained Hayes.
His linemates are also noticing the stronger, more powerful Hayes.
"I've played with him for a long time and just being with him all the time he's a really special, gifted player," said Arnold. "He's battled some injuries, but he got a full summer this year. You see him out here this year and he's a force every game. He and Johnny [Gaudreau] are two of the best players in the entire country."
Hayes, who missed the last two periods of Friday night's game against Providence with a hip injury, took another hard hit into the boards on Monday. The hit drew a five-minute major and game misconduct, but Hayes bounced right back up and stayed in the game.
"I feel fine," commented Hayes, when asked about his health following the game.
Hayes is certainly fine, and Boston College and Chicago Blackhawks fans will be feeling fine with the Dorchester, Mass. native in the fold.
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Jeff Cox covers college, junior and high school hockey, NCAA recruiting and NHL Draft prospects for SBNation. Follow him on twitter @JeffCoxSBNation.