Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Former Viper Twins Kellen & Connor Jones All About The Wins:
Connor Jones Player Profile:
Kellen Jones Player Profile:
This was in the New Haven Register Newspaper:
Quinnipiac twins Kellen and Connor Jones all about the wins
HAMDEN >> Connor Jones’ sports administration class had just ended last Tuesday morning when the professor, Quinnipiac athletic director Jack McDonald, pulled him aside.
A couple of days earlier, Connor, who with identical twin brother Kellen has helped transform Quinnipiac hockey into a national force, scored his 100th career point.
McDonald wanted to present Jones with a plaque to commemorate his milestone prior to the next game.
“He looked at me for a minute,” McDonald recalled. “And then he says, ‘No.’ I asked him why not and he said he’d like to wait for Kellen to get to 100. That blew me away.”
Kellen Jones enters this weekend’s home series with Harvard (Friday, 7 p.m.) and Dartmouth (Saturday, 7 p.m.) needing one point to join his brother in the century club. When it happens, Quinnipiac may pay tribute. The twins, while flattered, would much rather quietly slip into the night.
“It’s not that we don’t like the attention,” Connor said. “I want people to know we’re about the team. It’s a nice milestone. But we work hard to win, not to score 100 points.”
Says Kellen, “It’ll be an honor, but I want team success first. Everyone will notice at some point. There’s no reason to advertise it.”
Nearly every quote and sound bite from the Jones brothers circles to the same point: putting the team first. That attitude isn’t a front. It’s part of the Jones makeup; what’s made them winners at every stage of their hockey careers. Their résumé includes two Royal Bank Cup titles as Canadian Junior ‘A’ national champs and last season’s historic run to the school’s first ECAC regular-season title, Frozen Four berth and national runner-up finish.
Roughly a third of the way into the new season, the Joneses are at it again. Their forward line, which includes freshman Sam Anas at left wing, has been at the heart of the No. 6 Bobcats’ 10-game unbeaten streak.
“They have this intangible about them,” Quinnipiac coach Rand Pecknold said. “They make other people around them better. They’re all about winning. It’s hard to find those guys who just know how to win.”
When Pecknold scouted the pair as teenagers, he knew they possessed talent to immediately impact his program. It’s why he so heavily invested himself into their recruitment.
When the twins were close to committing, Pecknold made the cross-continent trip from Hamden to their home in Trail, British Columbia. What ensued was a scene reminiscent of “My Big, Fat Greek Wedding,” Pecknold greeted at dinner by most of the Joneses’ extended family.
“After the game, we went to this restaurant,” Pecknold said. “I met the parents, the grandparents. Their third-grade English teacher was there; the sixth-grade baseball coach. I pretty much met the whole town of Trail. And they were all there to approve of them going to play for me.”
Their college decision wasn’t difficult. The twins knew exactly what they wanted. Hockey stood as merely part of the equation. Academics would also be essential. Their parents, Terry and Loretta Jones, are high school teachers. Kellen completed his undergraduate coursework in finance last spring and this semester began working toward a Master’s. Connor will earn his bachelor’s next month.
“From the beginning, we knew we wanted to make the most of this opportunity,” Connor said. “We wanted to get our undergraduate and Master’s degrees before our four years were up.”
Pecknold says the Joneses “do everything right.” What pleases him the most is how their locker room influence transcends hockey. The twins never fail to go the extra yard. Each weight room session gets their full attention. Offensive production never comes at the expense of defense, where the two are notorious for laying in front of opposing slap shots. Both are leaders in the team’s community efforts, and throw themselves into every classroom assignment.
Late last month, just a day after helping the Bobcats to a sweep of preseason No. 1 UMass Lowell, Connor Jones drove himself to the TPC River Highlands in Cromwell. There he shot video, conducted interviews and submitted a detailed report of the Quinnipiac Classic. His duties in McDonald’s class included coverage of the women’s golf team, and he cut no corners with his assignment.
Their methodology has proven infectious with teammates. The twins were mired in an extended slump during Quinnipiac’s 21-game unbeaten streak last season, struggling to produce most nights.
“Connor and Kellen Jones were the two happiest kids in the locker room after every win,” Pecknold said. “It would have been so easy for them, as our marquee players, to be miserable and down because they had one point in eight games. But they were so fired up we were winning games. You can’t teach that kind of character.”
Pro hockey awaits. Kellen, a seventh-round pick of Edmonton in 2010, and Connor have attended the Oilers’ summer developmental camp the past four years, always skating on the same line. This year, they spent the week with a familiar face as their left wing — former Yale captain Andrew Miller, signed by Edmonton in the spring, days after beating the Bobcats in the national championship game.
Concern about a lack size (both are listed at 5 feet 9, 165 pounds) and how it may limit their NHL potential are already on auto-save for Oiler bloggers. Those are matters for another time. The Joneses are eager to make another Frozen Four run this spring.
At Quinnipiac, a countdown is already in progress. There are only 14 regular-season home games remaining as their remarkable careers wind down. But you don’t have to remind anyone in Hamden.
“I’m way past the point of appreciating them,” Pecknold said.
Four years ago, the twins recorded their first career points. Kellen and Connor both assisted on a goal during the season opener at Ohio State. Two weeks ago, Connor had two goals at Colgate to join the exclusive century club. Kellen’s 100th career point will come soon enough.
And, with a little luck, the powers that be at Quinnipiac just might let the event slide with no fanfare.
“They don’t do it for attention. They do it because it’s the right thing.”