Vees captain gets stronger for new season

Penticton Vees captain Nicholas Jones placed a focus on adding weight and quickness for the season.

PENTICTON VEES CAPTAIN Nicholas Jones will be harder for BCHL opponents to defend this season thanks to a focus on strength and speed training during the off-season.

PENTICTON VEES CAPTAIN Nicholas Jones will be harder for BCHL opponents to defend this season thanks to a focus on strength and speed training during the off-season.

Personal goals are expected to lead to team glory for Nicholas Jones.

Named captain after last season, he said it’s not anything specific, but he intends to do what he can to help the Vees be at their best come May.

Focused on winning an RBC Cup national championship, Jones said they have a lot of good leaders in their alternate captains with Gabe Bast, Owen Sillinger and Mitch Meek. Jones added they have an older squad and he tries to lead by example.

“Use my leadership skills along with the rest of the guys around me and I think we will be fine,” he said.

Being named captain means a lot to Jones.

There has been a lot of great players that have come through this team and a lot of great captains as well,” he said. “I’m just trying to do my part to help the team win.”

The offseason for the five-foot-11 Edmonton native was about getting stronger: he now weighs 185 pounds and is getting quicker. Both will be important as he makes the jump to the National Collegiate Athletic Association with North Dakota Fighting Hawks next fall.

“It’s going to be a higher pace of play at college,” said Jones. “I’ve been at that level before and you are playing against men. You want to be as strong as possible.”

Vees rookie Ty Amonte saw what it was like first-hand to face Jones during training camp. The rookie, who scored twice in the Vees season opening 4-0 win in Prince George Sept. 10, said Jones pushed him throughout training camp. While it was hard going up against the captain, he loved it.

“It’s a really good experience,” said Amonte at the time. “He’s a hard player to play against. Hate to play against him, love to play with him, one of those guys.”

Amonte said what makes Jones hard to play against is that he is very shifty.

“He’s hard to take the puck away from. He’s really gritty,” added Amonte. “He’s always mouthing off all game. He’s one of those guys that’s tough.”

Jones said he felt great in camp and with a small group, it was competitive. He also said the players got to know each other really well.

“I think we’re a lot closer at this time of the year than I have been with a lot of teams before,” he said.

After having a good preseason, Jones said they were able to keep the momentum going with the win.

“I thought we played really well for our first game together,” said Jones, who collected an assist on Riley Risling’s goal to make it 4-0.

Jones added that Mathew Robson played well stopping all 21 shots he faced.

“I thought as a collective effort, as a defensive whole, we didn’t give up too many opportunities,” he said. “When we needed him, he was there.”

Also scoring for the Vees was Owen Sillinger, with Amonte collecting an assist. Risling and Jared Nash assisted on Amonte’s second goal.

In other news, defenceman Joe Leahy has committed to the University of Cornell Big Red. Leahy said securing the scholarship removes a big weight from his shoulders.

“It’s been my dream school since I was a little kid,” said Leahy, who will study economics or finance. “Cornell was always at the top of my list. It’s a school I always wanted to go to with academics and hockey both top notch. Education is really important to me and my family.”

I think Cornell is the best of the Ivy’s in terms of hockey. It was a really easy decision.”

The Big Red has won two NCAA championships in 1967 and 1970, and has won the ECAC championship 12 times. Notable alumni include Joe Nieuwendyk and Ken Dryden.

Vees notes: Former defenceman Rob Mann (2012-13) was named the captain of the Robert Morris University Colonials for the 2016-17 season.Mann, a junior from Oshawa, will lead the back-to-back and defending Atlantic Hockey Association regular season champions into a new season with a goal of a winning the conference tournament championship. The defenceman played in 37 games last season and led the team and league in blocked shots and was ranked fifth in the NCAA with 94 blocks, fourth in college hockey averaging 2.54 blocks per game.

“It’s a huge honour,” said Mann on the Colonials website. “The guys that have worn the ‘C’ in the past were all great players. I’ve learned a lot in my three years from the three different captains here. It’s a job I’m taking seriously and hopefully I can leave an impact like guys have left on me.”

“Rob has a tremendous amount of respect from the staff and players,” Colonials head coach Derek Schooley said. “He has been through a lot of ups and downs at Robert Morris while maintaining a tremendous attitude, with a work ethic and maturity that makes him a logical choice for our captain.”