There’s nothing about the Bryan Jones statistical profile that jumps off the page. He’s played 12 games for the BCHL’s Chilliwack Chiefs, collecting two goals, one assist and four penalty minutes. He’s 10th in team scoring, experiencing ups and downs as he finds his way in junior A hockey.
And yet, when a friendly neighborhood sports writer reached out to Chiefs hockey boss Brian Maloney this week to find a player to feature, Jones’ name was the first one mentioned.
“Plays the game the right way,” Maloney said in a text message. “Plays hard every single shift and understands what he is as a player. He’s a 200-foot centerman that can do a lot for us.”
Jones loves hearing that from his coach.
“It’s a great compliment to have,” the 18-year-old said. “I think it means doing whatever it takes to help out the team. In the defensive zone it’s having a good stick on the puck and battling down low so they (opponents) don’t get any good chances. At the other end it’s getting up the ice fast, hounding pucks, forechecking hard, getting to the net and the greasy areas.
Backchecking. Blocking shots on the faceoffs. Winning faceoffs. Whatever gives your team momentum so they can be successful the rest of the game.”
In other words, a coach’s dream. And a teammate’s dream too.
“I love watching other guys do those things,” the Ohio product said. “You’re always trying to get energy going. Blocking shots and big hits are some of the best things you can do to get the boys going, and I take pride in that.”
Jones’ father is Casey Jones, head coach of the NCAA Div 1 Clarkson University Knights for the last 11 seasons.
His son has been around the rink his entire life and has spent hours talking hockey with his dad. One of the first and most important lessons he learned was to control what you can control.
“You can’t control if you’re going to score or get an assist, but you can control out-working and out-competing everybody every single shift, how hard you backcheck and forecheck and whether you win battles.”
All of the above is not to imply that Jones is a talentless plugger. He’s six-foot-three and skates well. His stats at Northwood Prep suggest he should be good for around a half point a game (or more) once he settles in.
If he reaches that level, along with all the other things he does, he will be an exceptionally valuable player for the Chiefs.
“It’s just confidence,” Jones said. “At practice, I’m working every day to get those extra puck touches to hold onto that puck that extra second and be confident making plays. As soon as it starts coming together in practice, which it is now, it’ll start translating in games.”
The Chiefs are coming off a split against Victoria and Alberni Valley last weekend. Chilliwack topped Victoria 3-2 in overtime Oct. 28 and fell 4-3 to Alberni Valley the next day.
They have a pair of tough road games this weekend when they visit the Salmon Arm Silverbacks Friday (Nov. 4) and the Vernon Vipers Saturday (Nov. 5).
Salmon Arm is 7-5-0-1, fourth in the Interior conference. Vernon is 6-6-0-1, seventh in the Interior.