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Hockey a family affair for the Jooris'

by Torie Peterson / Calgary Flames

CALGARY, AB -- Growing up, hockey was always front and center for Josh Jooris.

Not only did he spend a fair amount his time at the rink for practices and games, he devoted a lot of time to watching his father, Mark, play professional hockey throughout his childhood.

When he wasn't at a rink, he was still immersed in hockey, watching games on TV and playing street hockey.

Josh even managed to incorporate the game into snack time.

"On and off the ice he was doing something hockey-related," Mark Jooris told "I always tell the story -- and he laughs -- playing with Smarties, making teams up with his Smarties. He was pretty upset if we took one away.

"He just loved it and he was always around the rink with me and just loved the game."

When questioned about the alleged Smartie incidents, Jooris admitted he was a bit possessive over his candy tournaments as a youngster.

"It's his go-to story," Josh chuckled. "I used to buy tons of Smarties -- not to eat them, just to play [hockey] with them. I used to have tournaments with the different colours and stuff. If someone ate a Smartie I would be pretty ticked off."

As it turns out, those Smarties tournaments may have helped him hone one of his best attributes.

The 24-year-old has been lauded for his hockey sense, his ability to read plays, and Josh, who now stands 6-feet tall and weighs 180-pounds, was always the smaller kid on his teams but was always able to overcome size mismatches thanks to his hockey IQ.

"I always knew when he was smaller he had a [good] hockey IQ," Mark said. "I noticed whenever he passed the puck he always put it to where kids were going to be rather than where they were. At a young age they don't teach that stuff."

Thanks to his dad's career, Josh spent a number of years living in Europe as child and was able to witness what professional hockey players go through.

Mark, who now coaches a junior squad back in Ontario, played 13 seasons of professional hockey, taking him to Finland, Germany, and Switzerland as well as a couple of stints in the American Hockey League.

"It was awesome," Josh reminisced. "I remember the later years of his career when I was probably like 9 or 10, in Switzerland. It's something that not many kids get to experience. The fact that we were able to go to a beautiful place and countries like that and for my dad to play hockey was pretty cool.

"I learned a lot from him, I was always around the rink with him and he was always taking me out after practice with the guys and stuff and I thought that was pretty cool."

When the family returned to Ontario, Mark decided to suit up for the Dundas Real McCoys, a Senior A team that competes for the Allan Cup. In his first season, he compiled an incredible 32 goals and 112 points in 28 games -- averaging 4.00 points-per-game.

He ended up playing 237 games for the Real McCoys, posting 640 points in that span, and had his no. 19 retired by the organization earlier this year.

Meanwhile, Josh's love affair with the game continued and he ended up going through the Ontario Junior Hockey League, playing for the Burlington Cougars. In the 2009-10 season, he registered 26 goals and a staggering 119 points in 50 games.

Afterward that, he headed off to college to play for Union College, where he plied his trade for three years. In 117 games, Josh amassed 29 goals and 88 points and caught the attention NHL scouts.

He attended NHL camps in Boston and Vancouver prior to earning an invite to the Flames development camp in 2013. Opting to forgo his senior year at Union, he signed a two-year entry-level contract with the Flames on July 30, 2013.

"I just wanted to make sure that he worked hard when he came to the rink and had fun doing it," Mark said of Josh's career path. "The NHL was really never a thought because he was always a smaller kid. Then he grew and he was determined and here he is."

After spending his first professional season with the Abbotsford Heat, Josh turned more than a few heads last fall with his stellar performance in training camp and the 2014-15 pre-season.

He was one of the last players assigned to the AHL but he didn't have to wait long to make his NHL debut.

Recalled on Oct. 16, 2014, he played the following night in Columbus and scored his first NHL goal in his first game. He hasn't looked back since, netting 10 goals and 17 points through 42 games in Flames' silks.

Looking back at his son's season, Mark isn't overly surprised at Josh's success in the NHL. Proud, yes, but he knew his son had not only the skill set but the work ethic necessary to play in the NHL.

"He came in here with a good mindset. Having the camps that he went to in the past, he had a mindset of 'Hey, I can play in the National Hockey League', and that was his goal coming in here.

"It's not being proud of him being here, it's how he did it. The perseverance, the dedication and wanting to be here.”

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