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FUTURE WATCH | Family fueled fire in Jones

by Meg Tilley / Edmonton Oilers

Photo by Dayna Fjord / Portland Winterhawks.
Brotherly love, it's a family dynamic that has surrounded Caleb Jones all of his life, but it's also one that impacted a major life event: how he got his start in hockey.

“I was really young when I started,” said Jones, defenceman for the Portland Winterhawks.

“I know my brothers Seth and oldest brother Justin really started to get into it… I’m pretty sure I just followed them in as the youngest brother, just seeing my older brothers playing it I just decided, ‘Oh I’ve got to follow my older brothers,’ I think that’s really how I started.”

His brothers may have been the fuel to Caleb's fire by leading the younger Jones to the game, but it was his passion that pushed him to pursue it professionally.

“I think when I really started to love it was about nine or 10 and started playing competitively,” he said.

“I’m a competitive person and I just love the speed of the game and how you have to make quick decisions and I think that just over time I fell in love with it.”

Selected by the Oilers in the fourth round of the 2015 NHL Draft, 117 overall, Jones was caught off guard when he was picked.

“It was unbelievable, to be honest,” said the 18-year-old.

“Sitting there, I really had no idea at that time what team was going to take me, and when I heard them announce my name, it was kind of surprising at first. But then I realized, as the day went on, how much history there is in their organization and the players that have played there — and (for me) to possibly play there one day — it just all hit me kind of at once.”

Last season, Jones played for the United States National Development U18 Team where he had six goals and added 18 assists for 24 points in 65 games.

“It was unbelievable for me. We got to play in three international tournaments that year and three the year before that, in my first year with the national program,” he said.

The blueliner says he feels his experience playing in two seasons with the national team contributed a great deal to his development.

“I got to play with great players like Auston Matthews and Matt Tkachuk.... Getting to practice against those guys every day — they’re challenging you every time they’re coming out on you.”

This year, Jones is playing in his first Western Hockey League (WHL) season, having signed with the Winterhawks in April after his stint with the USNTDP Juniors in the United States Hockey League (USHL).

“At first, we had a slow start…and then we just started really heating up and we went on a five-game win streak…. I think we’re starting to come together as a team and figure it out.”

Jones, who helped lead USA Hockey’s National U-18 Team to a gold medal at the U18 World Championship in Switzerland in April, had five assists in seven games.

“I still remember the feeling. You know, you’ve been with most of those guys for two years, and you start out at 16 and now suddenly you’re 17, 18 and that’s all you’re working for is that gold medal and you won it, it was truly a great feeling,” said Jones.

Photo by Dayna Fjord / Portland Winterhawks.

The young blueliner says he has noticed a few differences between the two leagues.

“The WHL is a lot faster of a game, there’s more skilled players and it’s tough every night as opposed to the USHL, where they may have one or two skilled guys, but the game feels a lot slower,” said Jones.

The International Scouting Service describes Jones as a player who works hard in all situations and is a step ahead in problem solving, exhibits good mobility, has a quick, accurate shot from the point, and an active stick.

In 14 games with the 'Hawks, Jones has two goals and seven assists for nine points.

“The first five, six games were a little bit of an adjustment period for me and I think just now, in the past couple of games I’m really starting to hit my stride,” said Jones.

“I’m starting to really heat up here and play well and I think it’s only going to get better for me with every game I play.

The two-way defenceman describes his style of play as one that helps to create an offensive attack while defending hard in his own zone.

“I like to join the rush and create offence for my team but defence is first and I like to take pride in my own zone and play a tough, solid game and make a good, simple outlet pass to the forwards… skate the puck up the ice to make plays,” he said.

“Right now, I’m trying to focus on making simple plays out of my own zone a little more. I’m trying to work on my quickness and my first couple of steps. I’m a good skater, but if I can be a little quicker in my first few steps and be more explosive I think I can be that much better.”

During practice, Jones says that he finds repetition of a play or movement on the ice to be one of the best tools at his disposal.

“Just trying to focus on it in practice and maybe do it after practice — get someone to help out with it — and just go through it and try to make it a habit so that it comes natural to you and you don’t have to think about it.”

As Jones works towards developing into a player who could eventually make the jump to the NHL, he owes it all to following his families lead years ago.

Though he continues following his brother Seth Jones — a current Nashville Predators' defenceman who is also a former Winterhawk himself — Caleb is focused on carving his own path.

"We talk a little bit but not much about hockey. In the summer he’ll give me some advice because we skate together and work out together, he might say something here or there about how I could do something better, but for the most part he just kind of lets me play."

Statistics For In The System Through Past Seasons: 14-15 | 13-14 | 12-13 | 11-12
Stats Updated as of Wednesday, November 4 2015

Bakersfield (AHL) - Forwards


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
BRADEN CHRISTOFFER LW 21 8 0 1 1 -5 4
LEON DRAISAITL C 20 6 1 1 2 -5 4
MATTHEW FORD*   RW 31 8 3 3 6 -7 8
RYAN HAMILTON   LW 30 7 3 0 3 -5 4
KALE KESSY   LW 22 6 1 0 1 0 12
JUJHAR KHAIRA   LW 21 8 1 3 4 0 0
ALEXIS LOISEAU   C 21 1 0 0 0 -1 0
ANDREW MILLER   RW/C 27 8 2 4 6 +1 6
MITCH MOROZ   LW 21 8 1 1 2 -2 20
PHILIP MCCRAE* C 23 8 2 0 2 -4 4
IIRO PAKARINEN   RW 24 4 1 2 3 0 4
TYLER PITLICK   RW 23 3 0 0 0 -1 0
KYLE PLATZER RW 20 8 0 2 2 -1 0
JOSH WINQUIST   LW 22 5 3 3 6 +2 18
BOGDAN YAKIMOV   C/W 21 8 2 1 3 -1 4
DANIIL ZHARKOV (INJURED)
LW 21 - - - - - -
Bakersfield (AHL) - Defencemen


Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM
MARTIN GERNAT   d 23 3 0 0 0 -2 0
brad hunt   D 27 8 2 7 9 -7 4
JOEY LALEGGIA   D 23 8 0 1 1 +3 10
DAVID MUSIL D 22 8 0 0 0 +2 4
NIKITA NIKITIN   D 29 3 0 3 3 -2 0
DARNELL NURSE   D 20 6 0 1 1 0 7
JORDAN OESTERLE   d 23 8 0 3 3 -5 4
NICK PAGEAU   D 27 4 0 0 0 -4 0
DILLON SIMPSON (INJURED) D 22 - - - - - -
Norfolk (ECHL)


Name POS age    GP G A P +/- PIM
BEN BETKER D 21 6 0 1 1 -5 2
GREG CHASE F 20 6 3 2 5 -1 12
Canadian Hockey League
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
CALEB JONES  D 18 14 2 7 9 +6 17 PORTLAND WINTERHAWKS (WHL)
ETHAN BEAR  D 18 14 3 11 14   +9 10 SEATTLE THUNDERBIRDS (WHL)
NCAA & USHL
Name POS age  GP G A P +/- PIM team
EVAN CAMPBELL   LW 21 6 1 3 4 0 4 UMASS-LOWELL (NCAA)
WILLIAM LAGESSON
D 19 7 0 2 2 +1 6 UMASS-AMHERST (NCAA)
JOHN MARINO d 18 11 1 6 7 +2 8 TRI-CITY (USHL)
AIDAN MUIR LW 20 7 1 0 1 -2 4 WESTERN MICHIGAN (NCAA)
TYLER VESEL   C 21 8 0 4 4 +3 0 NEBRASKA-OMAHA (NCAA)
Europe
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
ROMAN HORAK C 24 26 6 7 13 -1 16 CHEKHOV VITYAZ (KHL)
PHILIP LARSEN   D 25 20 1 11 12 +6 4 JOKERIT HELSINKI (FINLAND)
ZIYAT PAIGIN  F 20 3 1 1 2 0 0 KAZAN AK-BARS (KHL)
ANTTI TYRVAINEN  F 26 11 5 1 6 +1 24 ILVES TAMPERE (finland)
2016 World Junior Hockey Championships
Name POS age GP G A P +/- PIM team
CHECK BACK DURING THE TOURNAMENT                 
Goaltenders
Name age GP w l T GAA SV% team
KEVEN BOUCHARD   19 9 2 6 0 4.86 .839 baie-comeau (qmjHL)
LAURENT BROSSOIT 22 5 2 2 1 2.96 .912 bakersfield (AHL)
EETU LAURIKAINEN 22 1 0 1 0 4.02 .818 BAKERSFIELD (aHL)
ZACH NAGELVOORT   21 4 3 1 0 3.00 .878 michigan (ncaa)
BEN SCRIVENS   29 2 0 2 0 4.57 .857 bakersfield (ahl)
MIROSLAV SVOBODA   20 1 0 1 0 6.00 .750 TRINEC OCELARI (CZECH)
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