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For Jimmy Hayes, Dorchester Youth Hockey was ‘where it all began’

Jimmy Hayes brought the crowd out of their seats as they celebrated his second period goal that put the Bruins ahead 4-2 against the Philadelphia Flyers at the TD Garden on Oct. 21, 2015.
Jimmy Hayes brought the crowd out of their seats as they celebrated his second period goal that put the Bruins ahead 4-2 against the Philadelphia Flyers at the TD Garden on Oct. 21, 2015.Jim Davis/Globe Staff/The Boston Globe

In Jimmy Hayes’ obituary, one that was written far too soon, people are asked to honor his memory by donating to Dorchester Youth Hockey program, where he launched a career playing the sport he loved.

Even after finding success at Boston College and as a pro in the National Hockey League, the 6-foot-5-inch, 215-pound Hayes always remembered his roots in Dorchester.

“Jimmy never forgot where he came from,” said Shaun O’Sullivan, a longtime board member of Dorchester Youth Hockey. “Every experience he had, he brought it back to the neighborhood.” Hayes grew up on Westglow Street and spent countless hours skating at the Devine Rink on Morrissey Boulevard.

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Hayes’ obituary states that in lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Dorchester Youth Hockey.

On Monday morning, members of Dorchester Youth Hockey will hold a special stick salute on Hallet Street during the funeral procession for Hayes, who died unexpectedly Aug. 23 at the age of 31.

Timmy Berardinelli, 40, a close friend of Hayes, recalled how he started playing for Dorchester Youth Hockey as a Squirt, which is the level of hockey for kids 10 years old and under.

“His grandfather taught him how to skate at a very early age,” said Berardinelli. “He played Mite hockey in Charlestown, and in Squirts he came over to Dorchester Youth Hockey. It was a great place to start out. Linda Perkins and Charlie Pero were two of his favorite coaches.”

Hayes continued to play for Dorchester Youth Hockey until he was a Bantam and then went on to play for Noble and Greenough School in Dedham. From there, he went on to win an NCAA championship at Boston College and then played seven years in the NHL, including two seasons with the Bruins.

“In life Jimmy achieved many things, but one of his proudest accomplishments, alongside being a husband and father, was making his childhood dream of being a professional hockey player come true,” reads an obituary posted by John J. O’Connor & Son Funeral Home. “Jimmy lived for hockey at a very young age and was determined to have success within his career. The hockey community brought so much joy to his life.”

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“Words can’t describe how much cared about Dorchester Youth Hockey,” said Berardinelli. “It was his foundation. His community. That’s where it all began.”

O’Sullivan recalled how back in his college days Hayes and the rest of the Boston College hockey team would come out to Dorchester and hold skills sessions for the kids in the neighborhood.

“They had all the kids out on the ice,” said O’Sullivan. “There would be a bunch of snotty nosed kids just following them around....and they were so gracious.”

O’Sullivan said Hayes and his brother Kevin, who currently plays for the Philadelphia Flyers, always made a point to connect with the kids in the Dorchester Youth Hockey program, whether it was hosting a skills clinic, speaking at a banquet, or playing a game of street hockey with them.

“They always had time for the kids,” said O’Sullivan. “They shared what they had and paved the way for everybody else.”

O’Sullivan said the loss of Hayes has been “devastating.”

“He touched so many people,” said O’Sullivan. “It’s just so sad. The family is hurting. The whole community is.”

Visiting hours will be held Sunday between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. at Florian Hall at 55 Hallet St. in Dorchester.

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A funeral Mass will be said at St. Ann’s church on Neponset Avenue in Dorchester on Monday at 10 a.m., and if the church reaches capacity, services will also be live-streamed at Florian Hall. The funeral will also be live-streamed online. The Dorchester Youth Hockey stick salute for Hayes will take place at 10:30 a.m. on Hallet Street.

Donations in Hayes’ memory can be made to Dorchester Youth Hockey c/o Phil Olsen, 38 Laban Pratt Road, Dorchester, MA 02122, according to his obituary.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.