Four games into his Kootenay International Junior Hockey League season with the Summerland Steam, Sam Jones is enjoying hockey in Canada again.
It was just a few seasons ago, Jones felt that hockey had become a “chore” for him.
“It was more … that I didn’t really like going to the rink,” he said.
It was his brother, Adam, who lauded playing under Steam bench boss John DePourq that drew him back to B.C. from the English Premier Ice Hockey League.
“I know Adam loved playing for Johnny, which is kind of why I’m here. It’s more, hockey is just for fun. I think along the way, a lot of people forget that. I’m having fun again, which is good,” said Sam, who had played in the BCHL prior to going overseas.
Jones, who was born in Telford, England, considered returning to that country to suit up with the Milton Keynes Lightning to play professionally again and had some BCHL options, but decided to join the Steam.
When he isn’t holding down the blue line and keeping opponents away from the Steam’s goalie, Sam will work and study business in college.
Steam general manager Mike Rigby believes the 19-year-old’s maturity and leadership abilities will be huge for the team.
“Knowing what it takes to play at a higher level and to be able to incorporate that in your lineup as a 20-year-old (Jones turns 20 on Nov. 11), again that maturity will rub off on the rest of the team,” he said. “He has taken charge. Done everything asked of him.”
Jones, six-foot-two, 185 pounds, reminds Rigby of Adam with a “take no prisoners kind of attitude.”
“He wants everyone to equal his own output on and off the ice,” added Rigby.
“I think at the playoffs it comes down to being able to tough it out,” said Jones. “If you don’t want to win, if you don’t want to be here and if you don’t want to be at the rink, then you are not going to win the playoffs. Going into every game is a battle. Especially in the Okanagan Division.”
Jones loves the makeup of the Steam and how the young players are bringing energy.
“The young guys are going to help us a lot up front,” he said. “Our back end has a lot of older guys.”
The Steam are back in action at home Friday and Saturday against the Sicamous Eagles and Kamloops Storm, respectively, at 7:30 p.m.