FUTURE WATCH | Kellen Jones
Oilers prospect Kellen Jones is a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award and working towards his NHL dream alongside his twin brother, Connor
|Photo provided by Quinnipiac Athletics
While playing with Quinnipiac University in Connecticut, Jones has developed into one of the nation’s top collegiate players. Jones is a candidate for the Hobey Baker Award, the most coveted award in collegiate hockey, given to the top NCAA Men’s Ice Hockey player in the United States. He is also an All-American candidate.
“It’s pretty great,” Jones said of the Hobey Baker candidacy. “You see some of the players on there… just amazing players. Just to be mentioned in the voting and stuff, it’s pretty cool and I’m real excited for my brother too, to be mentioned. I don’t think I’m going to win, but it’s still an honour for sure.”
The competition for this award is stiff, and some of it hits close to home. Jones’ twin brother Connor is also in the running. It’s a unique experience, but the brothers and linemates don’t focus on that particular competition.
“No not really, I think we just focus on not getting frustrated on the ice, being great for each other and trying to do well for each other and the team out there. It’s pretty cool and we’ve both talked about it and how great of an honour it’d be.”
Kellen and Connor do everything together. The two have attended Oilers Development Camp together, they play on the same line at Quinnipiac, they’re both up for the same collegiate award and have even shared in each other’s accomplishments.
Kellen recorded his 100th career NCAA point on November 22, 2013. It was a goal, courtesy of a pass by Connor.
“It’s pretty cool just to be together and to be a 100-point scorer in college is pretty special,” Kellen said. “It’s great for us and I was really happy for him to get it. I told him I should have been there a little earlier. I gave him a couple of passes in a game before and he missed the net. We just kind of kid around about that. To get a pass from him and put it in the net was pretty special. I think I was just happy I scored.”
The Jones brothers became the fifth set of brothers in NCAA history to each reach the 100-point milestone, as Connor achieved the same just a few weeks before.
“We play together so it should be relatively close, but I knew he was always ahead in points and he’d probably get there first. I think the only time we’re really not together is in the class room. We both went in kind of the opposite directions with school so we’ve only been in maybe two classes our whole (college career) together.”
They’re so similar that the two have been confused for one another on the ice a few times.
“Maybe a couple of times in penalties. I might have been on my way to the box and I’m like, that was my brother man I didn’t do anything.”
|Photo provided by Quinnipiac Athletics
There are differences in the twins and it begins on the ice. The report on the Jones brothers is that Connor is a little more on the gritty side, while Kellen has more finesse and offensive skills. Just don’t count Kellen out of having grit to his game.
“That’s pretty correct but I don’t want to say I’m not a gritty player,” he said. “I think (Connor) just gets in there a little more… He’s always going. He’s either flying through the air or hitting someone. I think I’ve picked my spots a little differently for when I’m going to hit guys. He’s always going and it’s pretty great to play with a guy like that.”
Kellen and Connor are quite the pair. On the ice, their relationship has been described as an ‘old married couple’. It’s something that Kellen laughed about, but could see.
“I think it’s just because we’ve been together our whole lives and we’ve played together our whole lives. I think that’s going to develop some pretty good chemistry, regardless of if you’re a twin brother or not. On the ice, we demand perfection out of each other. If I screw up, I’m going to hear about it from him before coach will even say anything. It’s been really great. I think in University, it’s even gotten better because we’re communicating more and doing the little things to get some more chemistry with each other.”
Kellen was drafted by the Oilers with the 22nd pick in the seventh round of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft. Since then, his focus on development has shifted to addressing the finer details in his game.
“I just try to get stronger, especially with my legs and balance. I think being a smaller guy, that’s what smaller guys have to focus on. I have to get faster, have strong legs and hold off those bigger guys and just get away from those bigger guys, skating wise. I’ve been more focused on my explosiveness and pretty much everything to do with my lower body and core strength. If a guy is bigger than me, I can hold them off for a little bit and stuff like that… I just try to work on my whole game together with the offensive and defensive zone and hopefully become a good professional league player.”
Jones is in his senior year at Quinnipiac and says he feels that his biggest strides have been made in his skating.
“I’d say probably my skating and trying to shoot the puck a little harder and shoot more during the game. Definitely my skating, I’ve tried to work on that in both ends of the ice for sure. It’s focusing more on the details and just helping out the team in every situation, power play and penalty kill.”
This season, Jones has 31 points (14-17-31) in 27 games. He’s shown solid special teams production with two power play and three shorthanded goals. He is an integral part of the third-ranked Bobcats, who look to return to the NCAA Frozen Four after losing to Yale in the finals last season.
“I think it’s just, I’ve been been pretty focused this year and trying not to get frustrated and just kind of focusing more on the details and becoming a complete player, not only in scoring but in the defensive zone too,” Jones said of his senior year. “It’s been great so far and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
Once this season has run its course, Jones hopes to make the jump to the professional ranks. He’s well aware of the challenges of a seventh round pick and college athlete making that leap.
“I think when you move up in every level, the players get better… I need to battle through and to work my way up. It will be tough. I’m looking forward to it. It’s been a great four years and school and I’m excited to meet those new challenges and do whatever I can to make a professional team.”
As Jones continues to make his mark on Quinnipiac hockey history, he hopes someday to show Oilers fans why they should be excited about his future with the club.
“I think probably my work ethic for sure. I’m just trying to be a dynamic player and be smart, intelligent and contribute offensively and defensively. I’d like to think of myself as a complete player. I’m not going to be too flashy out there. I think what the fans should be excited about is how I work out there and how relentless I am on the puck and on the ice and just battling in general. I’m definitely real excited and I can’t wait.”
Barons Player Stats | AHL Standings | Barons Schedule | Past Prospect Stats: 2012-13 | 2011-12
Stats Updated as of Wednesday, January 28, 2014 at 7:00 p.m. MST
|d||19||48||4||9||13||-8||82||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|f||19||47||27||25||53||25||49||CALGARY HITMEN (WHL)|
|DARNELL NURSE||D||18||48||10||30||40||4||74||SAULT STE. MARIE (OHL)|
|F||18||48||27||15||42||-4||42||VANCOUVER GIANTS (WHL)|
|f||19||39||14||17||31||2||37||EVERETT SILVERTIPS (WHL)|
|F||19||48||26||24||50||28||114||EDMONTON OIL KINGS (WHL)|
|F||18||39||9||8||17||-4||14||LONDON KNIGHTS (OHL)|
|7||1||3||4||-3||4||OWEN SOUND ATTACK (OHL)|
|F||24||31||4||6||10||5||122||JOKERIT HELSINKI (FINLAND)|
|F||19||49||2||2||4||2||35||NIZHNY NOVGOROD (RUSSIA)|
|26||23||8||12||2||3.00||.910||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|LAURENT BROSSOIT||20||7||2||4||0||3.53||.885||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|4||1||1||1||3.15||.914||OKLAHOMA CITY (AHL)|
|22||18||n/a||n/a||n/a||2.99||.894||HPK HAMEENLINNA (FINLAND)|