You’d expect a major contributor on a team that finished 3rd
place in all of Canada at the midget AAA level in 2016-17 to stay home for his
junior career, potentially at the OHL level. But that wasn’t the case for Dante
Jones, who after a great year with the Mississagua Rebels outside of his
hometown of Toronto went overlooked at home and decided to cross the border to
America to make his claim.
“It’s an entirely different style of game up there. I was
more of a grinder on teams back home,” notes Jones, and added that junior teams
in Canada wanted him to continue in that role when he felt he had something
more to prove.
To do this, the 6’, 163 lbs lefty came to several junior
camps in the US, and it was at one of these where his play caught the eye of
St. Louis Jr. Blues head coach Chris Flaugher.
“I remember him being absolutely everywhere on the ice:
blocking shots, using his speed on the wall, just electric out there,” said
Flaugher of Jones. He went on to offer Jones a spot on the team for 2017-18,
which Jones duly accepted.
Once arriving in St. Louis, Jones admitted that the transition
from Toronto to Missouri was a bit of a culture shock, in addition to the Jr.
Blues’ grueling conditioning regimen. However, he found guidance in his new
teammates: “I looked at a couple players at the start of the year, people like
[Jack] Hatton, and wanted to mirror their style of play. Now,” said Jones,
“it’s all coming together.”
Indeed it is: Jones has caught fire in 2018, scoring nine
points (3 G, 6 A) in the month of January and at the time of writing having a
six-game point-scoring streak in February to push his yearly totals to 12 goals
and 25 assists. He has been named in the Bauer/NA3HL weekly honors four times
(once as First Star, once as Second and twice as an honorable mention) and even
when not registering on the scoresheet impressing coaches in other ways.
“Dante’s workrate is arguably the best we’ve got right now
on this team,” noted Flaugher. “Whatever role he’s been asked to play he’s done
it and done it extremely well. We’re extremely lucky to have a player like
Dante on our team this year.”
Next up for Jones is a trip to Plymouth, Michigan, to
represent the Jr. Blues at the NA3HL’s Top Prospects Tournament. “Dante’s
earned his ticket up to Detroit this year, and for him right now the sky really
is the limit,” Flaugher added. “He’ll get the chance to play in front of
hundreds of NAHL and college scouts, and we know he will make the most of this