Since joining the Sioux City Musketeers two years ago, Kyle Hayton has been one of the top goalies in the USHL. His ability to turn into a brick wall has been key factor in the Muskies first half success as they have the third best record in the 16-team league.
Hayton's journey to becoming a goaltender happened by chance. In fact, his young hockey career began as a defenseman.
"My goalie didn't show up for our game so my dad -- he was a professional soccer goalie -- he told me to get in net and play," said Hayton. "So I played, got a shutout and I've played ever since that day."
In his rookie campaign last year with Sioux City, Hayton stopped better than 90 percent of the shots he faced and was a key cog in the team's second half success. But when Head Coach Jay Varady took over in May, he made the job an open competition.
"When you come to the rink every night you want to win and he was able to come in and win games for us," Varady said. "As he won, he continued to get another start and continued to win."
This season, the 19-year-old continues to be one of the top net-minders in the USHL, ranking second in wins (16) and save percentage (.926) while giving up an average of two goals per game.
"The number one thing when you're a goalie is you never quit on a puck," Hayton said. "No matter if they have an open net, you work hard try to dive over and sometimes you're going to make the saves."
"It's a huge confidence boost knowing that if you make a mistake he's back there to bail you out," forward Jared Thomas added. "And he usually does."
And when it comes to special teams, behind Hayton, the Muskies rank second in the league killing off nearly 90% of their penalties. They've also turned their defense into offense scoring a league-best six short handed goals.
"Short handed goals don't come very often," Hyaton said. "But, with the way we play and our penalty kill, we're getting the chances so, it helps."
Hayton, from Minnesota, has committed to play college hockey at St. Lawrence University in New York.
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