I've been blessed and fortunate to have a dad that I can idolize like that and, hopefully, follow in his footsteps ... He's taught me so much. I'm forever grateful for it. - Josh Jooris
CALGARY, AB -- While he may have just three years of collegiate hockey under his belt, Josh Jooris knows what it takes to be a professional hockey player.
The 23 year-old pivot grew up around rinks across Canada and Europe as his father, Mark, played for teams in Finland, Germany and Switzerland. Jooris spent his summers and a portion of the school year in Canada before taking off to Europe for the hockey season, watching his father while his own love for the game grew. He experienced what his father and his teammates went through on a day-to-day basis and what it took remain a top player at the pro level.
"I've been blessed and fortunate to have a dad that I can idolize like that and, hopefully, follow in his footsteps," Jooris told CalgaryFlames.com. "He's taught me so much. I'm forever grateful for it.
"He's been unbelievable throughout my whole career and through my evolution as a hockey player, he's always been there."
Not only did Mark influence his son's career choice, he also played a part in Jooris' decision to go the collegiate route. Mark captured an NCAA Championship in 1985 with RPI, playing alongside former NHL star Adam Oates, before his professional career took off.
"He was always invited back to alumni weekends at RPI and I always made the trip with him. I got to see what it was all about ... I wanted to get a little taste of that and experience it for myself.
"College over the junior route, it was better suited for me. I was kind of overlooked because I was a bit smaller. I was a late bloomer."
Just like Mark's four years with the RPI Engineers greatly aided in his development, Jooris' time at Union has been very beneficial in his progress as a player. While his point totals over the last three years are very consistent (32-28-28), he has made strides in improving his overall game each and every year.
"It was crucial for me and my time at Union has made me the player I am today," he said. "(The coaching staff) gave me an opportunity right away to step in and play some big minutes. They put me with some great linemates like Daniel Carr and Jeremy Welsh, who I fortunate enough to play two years with. That was huge for giving me confidence to play at that next level."
His solid play at Union, which included a two-goal performance in Union's 5-1 win over Boston College in the NCAA East Regional semifinals this spring, earned him a chance to attend the Flames development camp on a try-out agreement.
He had a general idea of what to expect as he attended the Boston Bruins camp in 2011 and the Vancouver Canucks camp in 2012 but his time in Calgary had quite the impact on the forward. He began to seriously think about foregoing his senior year to turn pro after his time and left feeling confident in his abilities.
"It was an extremely tough decision to leave Union," the centerman said. "First and foremost, the decision started with Mr. Feaster and our opening meeting. He opened it by stating that Calgary is a land of opportunity and that opportunity is banging on the door. They're looking for guys who want to be here and want to work for a spot, work for playing time.
"As a player, that's all you can ask for. What you get out it is what you put into it. And the people here are great ... they went out of their way to approach me, talk to me and make me feel welcome."
Playing on a line with Turner Elson and Linden Penner in both scrimmages, Jooris stood out amongst players attending camp on try-out agreements thanks to his strong hockey sense and playmaking abilities. He regularly set up his wingers for scoring chances and was never shy to crash the net or battle along the boards.
"He played an aggressive, up-tempo style and displayed good grit and a high compete level," Calgary Flames General Manager Jay Feaster said. "Our staff felt strongly that we should attempt to get him signed, and we are pleased to welcome him to the organization."
His week in Calgary gave him time not only to evaluate his own level of play but his competition for the 2013-14 season. Jooris, who will suit up for the Flames at the 2013 Young Stars tournament in Penticton in September, will be jostling with the likes of Corban Knight, Roman Horak, Sean Monahan, Markus Granlund and Max Reinhart for roster spots in Calgary.
"Being an invite at camp, I wanted to go in and prove myself, see where I stood among the prospects. Now that I'm part of the organization, it has given me some insight as to what to expect and who I will be competing against in the fall ... I know there is healthy competition going forward.
"I'm looking forward to this opportunity."