Hayden Hirsch leans on father for advice

Kamloops Storm forward Hayden Hirsch always asks his father, retired NHL goalie Corey Hirsch for advice and tips.

KIJHL Media photo

Being the son of a retired NHL goalie, Hayden Hirsch leans on his dad Corey for advice.

Hayden tries to talk to his dad at least once a week. He will call him after a Kamloops Storm game and tell him what’s going on or ask him what he thought of the game. Corey, a radio analyst on Vancouver Canucks Sportsnet broadcasts, makes it to about seven of Hayden’s Kootenay International Junior Hockey League (KIJHL) games. The rest he watches as much as he can on PlayFullScreen.com.

Corey gives input, but doesn’t criticize.

“I think it’s actually a little bit harder to play for a dad that has played in the NHL. You put too much pressure on yourself,” says Corey, who has never coached his son, but has been an assistant on some teams. “We have had some talks where he doesn’t have to be me. Just enjoy the game. There is an added pressure. Most people don’t understand.

“I just want him to enjoy hockey,” says Corey. “I’ll give him little tips and tricks, or if he’s taking too many penalties, I’ll let him know. We discuss little things like scoring, how to be a good teammate. He is a pretty honest player, smart player.”

“My playing style is a lot of grit and a lot of hitting and getting pucks in,” says Hayden, a forward. “Sometimes I can get a little over excited about things and I take lots and lots of penalty minutes. He gets on me about that.”

The fatherly advice seems to be working as Hayden’s penalty totals are lower In his rookie season, he collected 62 in 45 games. Last season in 20 games, he had 24 games. Hayden adopted the gritty style in his U14 season.

“I just noticed I was a lot better at getting pucks out from battles and stuff than all my teammates were,” says Hayden. “I tried to develop my game style after that. It may not lead to as many points as I wish it would, but that’s not all that matters. A lot of it is just making your team better and helping them out.”

Corey stays out of his sons development, leaving it to coaches.

“I can only teach him so much as a player,” says Corey. “We have always had a very open relationship.”

Hayden has received attention because of who his father is. Much of it was that he was only on the Storm because of who his dad is.

“It’s all just going out there and proving that that’s not the case. I actually deserve to be here,” says Hayden, after the Storm lost to the Kelowna Chiefs. “I can actually be a good player for the team.”

Hayden came to Kamloops from the encouragement of his father. Hayden played in Phoenix, his hometown, and once his under-16 season ended, his next hockey chapter was unknown.

“I got there and immediately I fell in love with it. I played the whole year, I played more than I thought I was going to,” says Hayden. “I really thought this is what I wanted to do for the next couple of years.”

Kamloops is a second home to Corey because of the great experiences he had, winning a Memorial Cup. Corey is thrilled that his son is loving the great community he enjoyed and has seen Hayden grow as a person and player.

“He has gotten a lot smarter. It’s not about playing in the NHL. It’s about making friends, it’s about being in a team atmosphere,” Corey explains. “He’s really just matured. He’s doing really well. He loves playing here, he loves Kamloops.”

A highlight for Hayden, in his third season with the Storm, was making the playoffs as a rookie They faced the Revelstoke Grizzlies and trailed 3-0 in the series, but nearly forced a seventh game.

“I scored a goal in that game and I will never forget the feeling after scoring that goal,” says Hayden, who is taking online courses and has college-playing aspirations. “How all the teammates were all so excited. It was an amazing experience.”

“The KIJHL, even I didn’t know what to think. It’s such a good league,” says Corey. “The talent level and just how organized it is. It gives these kids that maybe didn’t grow right away, or a little under developed, it gives them a chance.”