RBC Cup championship? Check.
NCAA scholarship? Check.
Gold medal at the 2009 World Junior A Challenge? Not quite.
Twin brothers Connor and Kellen Jones have the chance to cap off quite a six-month stretch on Sunday when they help lead Canada West into the gold medal game against the United States as the Canadians go for their third gold medal in four years.
The Jones’ were two of the higher profile players named to the Canada West roster on Oct. 16, thanks in large part to the role they played in leading the BCHL’s Vernon Vipers to their record fifth National Junior A Championship in May.
Connor, a centre, took home the RBC Cup’s top forward award in Victoria, putting up six points (3g, 3a) in six games, while Kellen, a left winger, contributed seven points (3g, 4a).
Add in their dual commitments to Quinnipiac University to play NCAA Division I hockey beginning in 2010-11, and there was really only one thing left for them to accomplish in Junior A hockey.
“It’s such a huge honour to wear the jersey and have the maple leaf on your jersey,” Connor said Saturday after his team’s final skate prior to the gold medal game. “The last few months have been pretty exciting, and this would be a great way to cap it off.”
After a slow start – they were both held off the scoresheet in Canada West’s tournament opening loss to Russia – the twins have exploded, combining for 15 points in three games as the Canadians romped to the gold medal game, outscoring the opposition 22-7 after the loss to the Russians.
And don’t forget the third member of their line – Cody Kunyk, a member of the AJHL’s Sherwood Park Crusaders, is second to Connor in tournament scoring with nine points, including a tournament-leading five goals.
“Every game it seems like we’re getting better,” Kellen says of the line that has 24 points in three games. “We seem to complement each other well; he (Kunyk) finds the right spots and he knows how to finish.”
It is that finish that has allowed Connor to approach a pair of tournament records – Kyle Turris and Mike Connolly’s mark of 11 points in a single year, and Vladimir Tarasenko’s seven assists in one WJAC.
Connor, who needs just one point and one assist to tie the marks, says it’s an honour to be mentioned in the same conversation with the players who have impressed at past World Junior A Challenges, particularly an NHLer such as Turris.
But what about another pair of NHLers, who happen to be twins and happen to play in the same province as the Jones’?
“We get it a little bit, just because we’re twins” says Kellen of comparisons to Daniel and Henrik Sedin. “They’re a little bit bigger than we are, they play a different style of game, but we have the same sort of vision. It’s pretty cool to be compared to them.”
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