DANBURY, CT – Jackson Hughes is in his second year with the Hat Tricks and head coach Billy McCreary, which he says is a massive advantage for a player.

“It is great to come back to a coach and a team that you know,” commented Hughes on his second season in Danbury. “It makes it a bit easier to know what your role is and what to expect at the rink every day.”

For Hughes, a South Lyon, Michigan native, that role has morphed into a top penalty killer and depth forward for the Hat Tricks.

“That role really seemed to find me,” claims Hughes. “I don’t usually get a ton of PIMS, but eventually I was put into that sort of grinder position and I’ve loved it.”

Growing up in Michigan, Hughes had an incredible experience with youth hockey.

“It really was awesome man,” said Hughes about his youth hockey experience. “There are eight AAA teams in the state and all of them are nasty. My team actually won the championship in 2019 against Seeley’s team in overtime.”

Hughes played youth hockey for Victory Honda amongst many other teams and still skates with them when he has the chance.

“When I was back in Michigan on break, I spent some time skating with my old team and coaches,” said Hughes of his time off from the Hat Tricks. “I try and tell the younger guys coming up what to expect when they get to the next level and teach them about the grind in junior hockey.”

Hughes leads the team in penalty minutes and is always on the ice in high leverage defensive situations, a role that he claims Billy McCreary helped him excel at.

“Hughes-y is a tough player. He is one of our best on the PK and is just so solid on the defensive side of the puck that he really forces himself onto the ice,” said McCreary of the second-year forward.

Before arriving in Danbury last season, Hughes opened up his junior career in the BCHL, before playing five games with the Chippewa Steel of the NAHL and ultimately being traded to the Danbury Hat Tricks.

“It was a crazy few months for sure, especially because a lot of it was done during covid,” said Hughes of moving around before coming to Danbury. “Once I walked into Danbury’s locker room and was welcomed by the guys, I knew I was in the right place.”

“That is the other thing about Jackson,” continued Head Coach Billy McCreary. “He is a natural leader on and off the ice. He brings the energy and enthusiasm every day and every night and that isn’t lost on us.”

Coming to the end of his junior career, Hughes was open about what his time in Danbury taught him.

“Billy (McCreary) and (Matt) Voity really taught me to be consistent in your role. If you are out there to put up points you need to do that, if you kill penalties do that. But just be someone that the guys and coaches can count on. If you can do that, you’ll be alright.”

Hughes continued and reminisced about the guys in the room with him and his experiences last year.

“It’s funny because last year the 00’s (2000 birth year) were saying the same thing that all of us 01’s are saying and I don’t think we fully understood,” continued Hughes. “Now that our time in junior hockey is coming to an end there is a ton we want to accomplish.”

When asked about those accomplishments, Hughes had a succinct answer.

“Playoffs. We want to make a push and leave it all out there.”

The playoff push begins Friday and Saturday against Maine. Both games are slated for a 7 p.m. puck drop. Catch all the action by following along on the Hat Tricks social media channels or by watching it live on HockeyTV.