Strong start for Jones be­tween pipes

Goalie named to Team OHL ros­ter for Canada-Rus­sia se­ries in Oshawa

The Peterborough Examiner - - Sports - MIKE DAVIES Ex­am­iner Sports Direc­tor mike.davies @pe­ter­bor­ough­daily.com

Hunter Jones has been a rev­e­la­tion in the Peter­bor­ough Petes’ net this sea­son.

Com­ing off a rookie sea­son where he ap­peared in just 15 games with less than flat­ter­ing sta­tis­tics per­haps the big­gest ques­tion fac­ing the team, with the grad­u­a­tion of Dy­lan Wells to the pros, was in goal.

More than one-quar­ter of the way into the sea­son it’s been the least of the club’s con­cerns. Jones ranks sec­ond in the OHL in wins (11) and save per­cent­age (.926), third in goals against av­er­age (2.54) for goalies with 10 or more games and leads all goalies in min­utes played (1,016) and saves (535).

It’s added up to a se­lec­tion by Hockey Canada to Team OHL’s ros­ter for Mon­day’s CIBC Canada-Rus­sia Se­ries game at Oshawa’s Trib­ute Com­mu­ni­ties Cen­tre. The se­ries is used to eval­u­ate po­ten­tial play­ers for Canada’s world ju­nior team. Be­fore that , the Petes will host the Hamil­ton Bull­dogs 7:05 p.m. Satur­day at the Me­mo­rial Cen­tre.

Jones has been on Hockey Canada’s radar be­fore. He par­tic­i­pated in both the World Un­der-17 Hockey Chal­lenge and the World Ju­nior A Hockey Chal­lenge two years ago.

But given his lack of OHL ex­pe­ri­ence and last year’s sta­tis­tics – a 3-9 record with a 5.14 GAA and .866 save per­cent­age – Jones couldn’t be blamed for not mak­ing the Canada-Rus­sia Se­ries one of his pre-sea­son goals.

“It wasn’t re­ally a big goal of mine to play in the Canada-Rus­sia Se­ries,” said Jones. “I wanted to be in­volved in the CHL Top Prospects game for sure and I wanted to come into the sea­son giv­ing my team a chance to win ev­ery night. I just came in with that at­ti­tude and started hav­ing a lot of suc­cess early on in the sea­son. I started get­ting re­warded with the CHL Goalie of the Week Award. That boosted my con­fi­dence a lit­tle bit and I just kept feel­ing the puck through­out the games. I just kept get­ting re­ward- ed as the games have gone on.

“I wasn’t ex­pect­ing it at all but I think I de­serve it with all the work I put in over the sum­mer and the suc­cess I’m hav­ing early on in the sea­son. I think both De­clan and I de­serve it.”

He’s re­fer­ring to team­mate and de­fence­man De­clan Chisholm, who was also named to Team OHL. Petes as­so­ciate coach An­drew Verner sug­gested he might be a can­di­date but Jones said he didn’t give it a lot of thought. He was play­ing video games at home prior to prac­tice the day of the an­nounce­ment when Verner texted con­fir­ma­tion of his se­lec­tion.

“I knew there were some other big goalies in the league like Michael DiPi­etro and Matthew Vil­lalta so I didn’t think I’d be in the con­ver­sa­tion,” said Jones. “Just know­ing it’s a stepping stone for the world ju­nior team is ex­cit­ing. I want to play on that team one day. I’m not sure it will be this year or not, it’s not a main goal of mine, but it would ob­vi­ously be a huge ac­com­plish­ment if that hap­pened. To hear that news in my 18-year-old year is pretty sur­real.”

His par­ents, grand­par­ents and his girl­friend and her fam­ily have all got their tick­ets.

“I’m not sure if I’ll get into the net but I think they just want to see the at­mo­sphere out there with a lot of the elite play­ers in the OHL and Rus­sia. It will be a cool mo­ment.”

Be­cause his birth­day falls af­ter Sept. 15 he wasn’t el­i­gi­ble for the NHL En­try Draft un­til June of 2019. It’s prob­a­bly worked out best for his draft sta­tus and he’s just hop­ing to con­tinue to play well. “It’s good with all the suc­cess I’m hav­ing and I’m pleased we’re win­ning as a team as a whole. It’s a lot bet­ter at­mo­sphere than it was last year in the room. The mind­set we have as a team is a lot bet­ter and it’s a lot more team-based. I think we’re just tak­ing it day-by-day. When we were on a lit­tle bit of a los­ing slide, as we were two weeks ago, we just need to pick each other up and get back to our fo­cus and our game plan. I have to go in ev­ery night and give our team a chance to win.”

CLIF­FORD SKARSTEDT/EX­AM­INER FILE PHOTO

Peter­bor­ough Petes goalie Hunter Jones blocks a shot against Sud­bury Wolves dur­ing first pe­riod OHL ac­tion on Oct. 25 at the Me­mo­rial Cen­tre.

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