By Matt Mackinder
In the 2012 calendar year, Eric Jones has gone from Traverse City to Sault Ste. Marie to Flint – with no complaints along the way.
As a matter of fact, Jones admitted that he is actually happy playing this season in the NA3HL with the Flint Jr. Generals rather than up a notch in the NAHL.
Needless to say, the 19-year-old from Traverse City has a realistic approach to the game and his abilities.
“On a personal level, the hockey here in Flint is a great fit for me,” Jones said. “It is a step below the North American League where I played last season (with the Traverse City North Stars), but I struggled last year and so I think this level is good for me.”
Jones joined the Jr. Generals after getting released by the NAHL’s Soo Eagles (the relocated North Stars) and receiving an invitation from Flint coach Steve Howard to come and skate with the team to see what he thought.
“After quickly developing a strong rapport with coach and the guys, I decided to stay put,” said Jones. “Prior to signing with Flint and playing my first few games in the NA3, I wasn't too familiar with the league. I knew it was a tough league, but that was about all I knew. A good friend of mine, Luke McDiarmid, who is also on the team, played for Flint last year and I know he is a talented player and he had nothing but good things to say about Flint so I took his word for it.
“Since I have been here in Flint, everything I expected is here. The league has fast play and is a very physical league. Coach Howard is a great coach and I love being here.”
Jones said that his fondness for the game started at a young age and has continued to the present.
“When I was three years old, my mom would take me to Mom-and-Tot skates every week and that was the start of my love of the game,” said Jones. “I started Mites at age four and no other game ever compared to the excitement or fun of hockey.”
With 10 points over his first seven games in a Jr. Generals’ uniform, Jones’ offense has been in full force, but showing his mature side, Jones would rather look at the big picture.
“Since I have been here, what I think that has made us so successful is our style of play,” explained Jones. “When we stick to our game plan and play our game, we are a very tough team to play against. In the seven games in which I've played, we have won six and lost one in a shootout. Penalties kill us, but when we play five-on-five, we're unstoppable. Having a coach that cares so much about his players is also a perk.
“My expectations for the team this year are pretty simple. We are in second place in our division right now and I would love to go to the league championship and win that and keep going to win a national championship. We definitely have the talent and heart to win it all more so than any team I've ever played for.
“If a national championship team is in my future, this might just be the year.”