Keeping Up With The Jones
by Avash Kalra/Staff Writer
There's something to be said for setting the tone for an entire team, perhaps for an entire season.
Last year, Dartmouth found itself in the consolation game in Albany after falling to eventual ECAC champion Harvard in its semifinal game. While the third-place game itself, pitting Dartmouth against Colgate, was relatively meaningless in the national picture, it meant something for the Big Green's graduating class of Mike Ouellette, Eric Przepiorka, Jarrett Sampson, Garret Overlock and Sean Offers.
In fact, the class of 2006 was the winningest class in the 100 year history of the Dartmouth hockey program, and it was then-sophomore David Jones who scored the game-winner in a 3-2 contest to send the seniors off in style.
Said Dartmouth coach Bob Gaudet about his star junior forward, "He's been a pleasure to coach. He's a big, strong guy. He kills penalties, scores big goals for us, plays on the power play. A great offensive player, and a guy who basically does everything for us."
And after scoring the final goal of last season, Jones got things started for the Big Green this year as well, scoring Dartmouth's first goal of the season in its first game, a 5-2 win over its travel partner, Harvard.
It was the first of many for Jones, who has added 17 more goals this season as part of his career-high 42 points, already eight more than he had last year. And after scoring three goals in last weekend's quarterfinal series sweep over Princeton, he leads the ECAC in scoring by averaging 1.41 points per game.
And Thursday, Jones was named a Hobey Baker Award finalist.
Did Gaudet anticipate this type of success?
"David was really good last year, especially in the second half, so I was hopeful," said Gaudet. "I'm really proud of his development. He's one of those guys who is absolutely low maintenance. You don't have to check under the hood every day. He treats practice like it were a game, and I think he's a great role model."
And as one might expect from a role model, much of Dartmouth's success depends on his performance.
Jones has recorded points in 26 of the Big Green's 31 games this season. In the five games he failed to score a point, Dartmouth lost four of them. And two of those four were against the only team in the league to shut down Jones all year - the top seeded St. Lawrence Saints, who could face Jones and the Big Green later in the weekend.
But first, Jones, along with linemates Nick Johnson and Tanner Glass, will be among the key players in Friday's semifinal game against Clarkson. Knights head coach George Roll has certainly taken notice of Jones and his prolific scoring line.
Said Roll, "Jones and Johnson - and I don't mean to slight anyone else - are two of the best, if not the two best, forwards in the league. They're guys who, both 5-on-5 and on the power play, we're going to have to be conscious of. I know it's a cliche, but it's more about trying to contain them and knowing when they're on the ice. I think they're exceptional, and when you give them time, both guys can shoot the puck.
"I don't know if you can stop them. You just have to try and limit their chances and do a good job defensively."
In two games against Clarkson this year, Jones has one goal and two assists. He also has 13 points in his last eight games. And while those numbers may seem imposing, so too is his physical presence. At 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds, Jones is the biggest of Dartmouth's 14 forwards.
And that's saying something, since the Big Green team has the tallest average height of any team in the nation.
"He's such a big guy," said Gaudet. "He's very quick for a 220 pound forward. He can really skate and shoot the puck. He plays hard, he plays injured, and he makes some big plays for us."
And while it's not always the case for a team's star player, Jones, a Vancouver B.C. native, is more than just a star on the ice, and for that, he certainly has the utmost respect of his coach.
Said Gaudet, "He also has a high GPA and was a valedictorian coming out of his high school class. He's been a pleasure to be around.
"He's a gem."