Calm, cool and collected Hitmen star gets noticed
Lanky goaltender Jones makes debut on world stage
By Rita Mingo, For The Calgary Herald
December 24, 2009 8:38 AM
Team Canada's junior hockey goalie Martin Jones tries to stop Finland's Teemu Hartikainen from scoring during an exhibition game at the Pengrowth Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta on December 22, 2009.Photograph by: Leah Hennel, Calgary HeraldCALGARY - Martin Jones, to those who know him best, is the epitome of serenity.
"I think the thing that stares out at you is his consistency and level-headedness,'' described Calgary Hitmen head coach Mike Williamson. "He's not ego-tripping. He's very calm and laid-back . . . and that's the way he plays.''
Jones has parlayed a fine season between the pipes with the Western Hockey League Hitmen into a starring role on Canada's 2010 world junior squad. Whether he starts in Saturday's IIHF championship tournament opener against Latvia is yet to be determined but, regardless, he's someone Willie Desjardins won't hesitate to use.
"He's a real good player,'' the world team's head coach said of the lanky goaltender, and he should know. Jones has been a thorn in many a WHL team's side, including Desjardins' Tigers.
"He's played real well against Medicine Hat in both games this year. So I know he's a good goaltender. But he's been even better at this camp. He's picked up his game and has played real well.''
"I hope so,'' chuckled Jones, when asked whether Desjardins remembered him from their league tussles. "You know when those games are coming up and you know who's behind the bench. You make sure you have a good game and being noticed doesn't hurt you.''
The 19-year-old will share net-minding duties with Jake Allen of the Montreal Juniors.
"He's a great guy,'' Jones said of Allen. "We're a team now and it's different from training camp; it's just me and him now. We're rooting for one another. And we need each other to play well if we want team success.
"It was an amazing feeling to get that knock on the door. I feel like I played well enough to make the team. There were four pretty good goalies. Maybe a little luck, too.''
In 20 appearances thus far for Calgary, the six-foot-three, 187-pound Jones has posted a 15-5-0-0 record, sporting a 2.83 goals-against average.
"He doesn't get too up or too down and he's a calming influence on our younger players,'' Williamson pointed out. "I think whether he's in the supporting role or the main guy, he'll give the same effort and he'll be a good teammate. I'm sure he'll be the first guy to congratulate the other guy. He's a 'team-first' type of guy.
"That said, he's very competitive and he wants to do well. And he'll take the opportunity when it's given to him.''
It's the seventh straight season that the Hitmen have placed at least one player onto the world junior squad.
"It's obviously a first-class organization,'' mused Jones, a free-agent signing by the Los Angeles Kings in 2008, by way of explanation. "It's easy to play with a team like Calgary, such a good coaching staff always, and they treat you pretty well.''
Like his Hitmen and world junior teammate Brandon Kozun, Jones has no previous international experience. His only other all-star-like tournament was the 2007 Canada Winter Games in Whitehorse, Yukon, where the B.C. team he backstopped finished fourth.
"There's definitely a few nerves, but that's good,'' admitted the native of North Vancouver, whose favourite NHL player is, naturally, Roberto Luongo. "It'll keep me sharp. You like playing in those games. You watch this tournament every year at Christmas and to be a part of it now, it's a little surreal.''
Yet, don't expect Mr. Calm, Cool and Collected to let the excitement get the better of him.
"Anything less than a gold medal is going to be disappointing,'' he said, matter-of-factly. "We get a chance to do something special and win six straight. Whether it's one in a row, two in a row or six in a row, we're just there to win for Team Canada.''
- - Hometown: North Vancouver
- - Born: Jan. 10, 1990
- - Vital statistics: Six foot three, 187 pounds
- - 2009-10 team: Calgary
- - NHL draft: Los Angeles Kings, 2008 (free agent)
- - What you need to know: His father, Harvey, is vice-president and general manager of arena operations with Vancouver Canucks Sports and Entertainment.
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