Brandon, MB (CKLQ) - Knowing that he can't play in the WHL full time this year has made life easy for netminder Nicolas Jones.
Jones is enjoying his first real taste of life in the Western Hockey League this weekend at Brandon Wheat Kings Rookie Camp at Westoba Place.
The Calgary native was the Wheat Kings 5th round pick this past spring in the Bantam Draft (93rd Overall) and comes to the Wheat City with an impressive frame, standing 5'11, and weighing in at 182 pounds still a month shy of his 15th birthday.
After showcasing his talent at the club's annual spring camp May, Jones says he's had a solid summer of training.
"I've worked hard on the things Goalie Coach Tyler Plante left me with after spring camp," said Jones. "Working hard on my depth, my stance, and footwork."
The goaltending battle is one of the more intriguing storylines to follow over the next couple of weeks. With 20-year-old Jiri Patera holding a tight grip on the starters role, who the #2 man behind him isn't so certain.
Soon to be 18-year-old Ethan Kruger appeared in 22 games last year, posting a 3.60 GAA and a .890 SVP, while 17-year-old Calgary native Connor Ungar has made a case to be the backup as well. He was the only Brandon goalie last year to post a shutout... a 4-0 win over Red Deer and finished the year in the AJHL with the Okotoks Oilers.
With the crease battle about to unfold in front of him, Jones is sitting back worrying about his own game.
"For me it's about coming here, having fun and enjoying the experience," said Jones. "I can't play here this year so I'm going to just learn as much as I can so next year I can be ready to crack a spot in the lineup."
In 19 games with the Calgary AAA Bantam Bisons, Jones finished with a 2.92 GAA and a .922 SVP and followed that up with impressive playoff numbers as well (6GP - 2.70 GAA - .910 SVP).
He says when Wheat Kings camp is all said and done, he will shift his focus to a new goal... making the jump to AAA Midget.
"My goal is obviously to make AAA and play a couple years there before making the jump to Brandon," said Jones with a smile. "But, I don't want to get too far ahead of myself. We will see how things play out."
Jones and his teammates will be back on the ice Thursday for the final day of Rookie Camp.
Thursday, August 29th
9:00am Team White Practice
10:30am Team Black Practice
6:00pm Black vs. White