It is a homecoming and a dream come true for Moose Jaw’s Nolan Jones.
The 18-year-old defenceman was acquired by the Warriors as part of the team’s blockbuster deal with the Victoria Royals ahead of the WHL trade deadline last Thursday.
“It’s a lot of emotions running through, at the moment you don’t really know what to think, but when you realize you’re going back to your hometown, you get smile on your face and think about coming back and seeing your friends and family,” said Jones, who has played previously in Lethbridge and Victoria.
Jones grew up in Moose Jaw, played minor hockey in the Friendly City and suited up for the city’s midget AAA team as well before making the jump to the Western Hockey League.
He says getting to come home to suit up for his hometown team, following in the footsteps of players that he idolized, like Morgan Rielly, means a lot to him.
“It’s really special, as a kid growing up, I was always hoping to play in this league, it just adds on to the excitement being able to play in your hometown,” Jones said.
After playing two provinces away for the past season, Jones says it will be a big boost to be able to suit up in front of his family and friends moving forward.
“It makes it really nice, my parents tried to watch as many games as they could online, but coming here for home games, playing here every night and having all my family in the stands with smiles on their faces and knowing I have them behind me, supporting me, it makes things really easy,” Jones said.
In 93 career WHL games, Jones has three goals and 20 points between the Hurricanes and Royals. He was traded to Victoria over the summer.
Jones was known as an offensive defenceman coming up through bantam and midget, posting 36 goals and 74 points in 59 games with the Bantam AA Warriors and then 13 goals and 38 points in 77 games at the midget AAA level.
He says he is focused more on developing the defensive side of his game since making the jump to the WHL.
“Every now and then, I’ll jump up in the play if see the chance. I like to play a physical game too, especially in our d zone, clearing guys in front of the net and I like to have that edge to my game,” Jones said.
Following last week’s two trades, the Warriors sport one of the youngest rosters in the WHL. Jones says he is hoping he can develop more as a leader as well to help lead the team.
“Obviously, we have a lot of younger guys, it’s nice knowing you come here and have the opportunity to be a leader and have these other guys look up to you,” he said.
Jones is also looking forward to playing a key role in the growth of the Warriors back into a contending team over the next few seasons. “That’s something that really excites me, being able to win in my hometown in front of everybody I know,” he said.
Jones and the Warriors return to the ice on Friday when they host the Prince George Cougars at Mosaic Place. Puck drops at 7 p.m. You can get your tickets at the Mosaic Place Box Office, or mjwarriors.ca.