Over the next 3 weeks we are going to be taking a look at the players who were released on our protected list for 2023-2024. This weekly series will be a reflection of who these players are, where they have come from, and what makes us excited to bring them back to Macon. Please help us welcome back #55 CJ Hayes
Hayes, a 28-year-old from Margate, FL, was a free agent signing in 2022. After playing 2 seasons in Birmingham playing 50 games with 24 points and splitting much of his second season with the Newfoundland Growlers of the ECHL, CJ came into the Mayhem organization as a veteran leader in the locker room.
The Florida native started his career in Illinois having played youth hockey with Team Illinois and the Chicago Mission before being drafted by the Fargo Force in the USHL Entry Draft. After playing 2 years and 105 games in the USHL CJ committed to Lake Superior State University where he played 55 games for the division one school. Hayes left at the end of 2017-18 to play for the Mississippi RiverKings of the SPHL and dressed for 26 games before being sent to the Watertown Wolves of the FPHL where in 16 games he tallied 27 points during the regular season and hoisted the Commissioner’s Cup trophy with the Wolves.
Fresh off his championship season CJ joined the Huntsville Havoc where he played just two games before being send to the Columbus River Dragons. In 44 games for Columbus, in their inaugural season, Hayes scored 47 points with 24 goals before the COVID shutdown. The next two seasons CJ spent playing for the Bulls in Birmingham which included a call up to the Newfoundland Growlers for 12 games during 2021-22.
When Hayes signed on in Macon he was a veteran player that added depth to a young locker room in a rebuilding phase. Over 28 games Hayes added 28 points with 12 goals and 15 assists despite being lost to the Mayhem for 21 games in the ECHL with the Savannah Ghost Pirates where he also tallied 4 goals. CJ also was one of three Mayhem players to receive player of the week honors this season.
CJ was an easy selection for the protected list as a point a game player and a skilled locker room veteran. When building around a solid core leadership has to be at the center and with Hayes the Mayhem can rest assured they have solid veteran leadership in their room.
Keep an eye out every Thursday for another look at one of our returning players!