After going on a tear this weekend, Miami RedHawks’ captain Ryan Jones was named Central Collegiate Hockey Association Offensive Player of the Week. Facing a surging Robert Morris University squad, the junior forward provided five goals and two assists in the series sweep. Thursday night in Oxford, Ohio, Jones scored two goals in the first four minutes of the game on his way to his second career hat-trick. Saturday night on the road in Pittsburgh, Jones provided similar heroics with a pair of goals and a game winning goal.
The native of Chatham, Ontario, is having a stellar campaign. This season, the left-winger broke Miami’s single season record for goals scored. He currently has 25 goals and 17 assists for a total of 42 points. Jones also holds Miami’s record for game-winning goals with 13, including four this season.
I had the opportunity to speak with Jones earlier this week.
On Miami’s unofficial fan site, a lot of the fans expressed concerns that you would not gain the CCHA Offensive Player of the Week award with the RedHawks facing a non-conference opponent in Robert Morris. Did you give that much thought?
No, (laughs) as players, you don’t really worry about whether you are going to get awards and whatnot. You are just glad that you can contribute to the team winning a couple games. To tell you the truth, it was the last thing on my mind until somebody said [I had won the award’]. I really didn’t know.
You have had an illustrious career at Miami. This season, you broke the single season goal record, and you are Miami’s career leader in all-time game winning goals, are those things that you will look back at one day rather than at this moment in time?
Yeah, it will be one of those things where you can brag to everyone about when you are an old guy, but like I said, right now, it is about getting the team where we all want to be at the end of the season. And you know when we get to the Frozen Four or if we are blessed enough to win a national championship, it doesn’t matter who scored the goals and who gets the points, it is the whole team that gets recognized.
Speaking of the team, it seemed like you guys had hit a low with a four-game winless streak and Brian Kaufman went down with an injury against Alaska, and now all of a sudden the team has bounced back, winning four in a row and earning a first-round bye in the CCHA playoffs. Have the spirits totally changed since the Alaska trip?
No, not really. I don’t think there is a huge difference between the four games where we didn’t get a win and the four games where we did. We got a few unlucky bounces in those two games. We went to the overtime with Alaska, twice. Anything can happen in overtime. And, I think the last four games, the bounces just went our way, and when you work hard, you tend to get those bounces and that’s just the difference between those two quarters there.
Do you think a lot of that has to do with the veteran leadership that you and the five seniors bring to the table, realizing how long the season is and it is more like a marathon than it is a quick sprint?
Yeah, you don’t want to dwell on the four-game streak where you don’t have wins. Because, like you said, it is an extremely long season. You can bounce back, and as long as you win your last game, that’s all that matters.
And, speaking of your last game, I heard there were a couple hurdles trying to even get to the arena Saturday night.
Yeah, the bus got stuck behind the hotel, so we went over the arena on shuttle buses with 10-12 guys on each bus. And knowing [head] coach [Enrico] Blasi and how superstitious he is, we are going to be taking shuttle buses to every rink from hotels.
Speaking of superstitions, do you have any, and did Saturday night’s transportation troubles throw off any of those off?
No, I just try to focus on the game. I have a few tape stick superstitions and I listen to a play list, but I don’t get too in depth in that kind of thing because situations like that can throw anything off.
What is it like playing in the brand new Steve Cady arena, home of the crazed "Ricoville" fans?
It’s been great this year. Our fans have been awesome. There haven’t been any empty seats on any given night, except for the [holiday] break when the students were not in town. The atmosphere at our arena is great, and to have home ice for the playoffs is huge for us.
Having the opportunity to watch you, you look like a throwback player, someone from a different era evidenced by your hard-nosed style of play and the fact that you have never missed a game in your collegiate career. Do you feel like you have something in your blood that is a little different than others?
(laughs) That’s just the type of game that I like. I like to be in the corners of the net and play a physical style of game. And that has to do with watching my cousin play in the late ‘80’s, early ‘90’s. He’s the only player that I’ve modeled my game around, so maybe that where I picked it up.