Connor and Kellen Jones are two of the most dynamic and exciting players in college hockey this season. They are also twin brothers that play on Quinnipiac’s exceedingly quick top line. While Kellen is a prospect of the Edmonton Oilers, Connor is an undrafted free agent. The twin brothers attended the Oilers’ prospect camp together last summer.
Hockey’s Future caught up with the Jones twins after practice on Wednesday at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh, PA.
Hockey's Future: How does it feel to finally be playing in the Frozen Four?
Connor Jones: It’s unreal. We’ve worked for three years for this and we’re just excited to be here and hopefully win a national championship.
HF: You two have been playing with Matt Peca for much of the year and you guys all seem to have such great chemistry together. Can you talk a little about that chemistry and how the three of you just seem to click so well?
Kellen Jones: I think we compliment each other nicely and I think we just all kind of play the same way. I think Matt might be a little more dynamic because his hands are pretty good and he’s a really good skater, too. But I think all three of us work really hard and as soon as we lose the puck, we want to get it back. So I think that kind of plays a part of it.
HF: You guys also look like you enjoy playing together. When I’ve watched you guys, you all just seem to have fun together.
CJ: Yeah, the three of us just love playing this game and we’re so passionate about it. And one thing that we said earlier was that we didn’t want to stop playing hockey in March in the first round of the playoffs, we want to be playing until April and go as far as we can. I think that’s what sets us apart from everyone else. We just love being out there and we love having fun together. We’re constantly talking and goofing around with each other.
HF: One question that I have to ask is how is it that Kellen, you were drafted by the Edmonton Oilers, and Connor, you weren’t? And yet both of you have attended the Oilers prospect camp.
CJ: Yeah, we’ve both gone to their camp the last few years. And every time I’m asked that question, I always say that they’ve made the right choice because he’s better than I am. He runs the power-play and I think he’s awesome. (Laughs)
HF: So what was it like for the both of you to be at the Oilers camp?
KJ: It’s been awesome. You get to play in an NHL rink and you’re around a great group of coaches and other players like Ryan Nugent-Hopkins. There’s always a first round draft pick there that will likely play in the NHL the next season. So that’s really cool. It also allows you to see where you’re at and what you need to do. So it’s been a real good experience.
HF: What are some of the greatest lessons that the both of you have learned at the Oilers camp that you’ve been able to bring back to Quinnipiac with you?
KJ: They have their habits and that kind of stuff, but it’s different from our team. So you have to take everything in stride. I just think it’s important to see where you’re at and how you match up against them. Everyone is good at that level but they aren’t that much different from me, so it’s kind of cool to see that and see how they play at that level.
CJ: Yeah, I think it’s also good to see the commitment level that everyone has too. It’s obviously our goal to play professional hockey and it takes a lot of sacrifice. And you’re doing things in the summer that other kids can’t do, so it’s a serious thing but we’ve had a lot of fun with it because we were able to spend the time together and learn from that.
HF: What area(s) do you each feel that you’ve made the greatest strides in during your collegiate careers at Quinnipiac?
KJ: I think just everything. I think we’ve both gotten better offensively and especially defensively. We’ve learned different things and I think our game has gotten just to that higher level. I think we’ve been able to develop our skills and set ourselves apart from other guys. So it’s been a learning process every year that we’ve been here. And it’s been a great experience so far.
CJ: Personally, I think I’ve worked really hard on my face-offs and things like that. All of the coaches have helped me with becoming a better defensive centerman. They’ve really helped me with that for sure. We’re not perfect, but every time we go out on the ice, we are constantly striving to get better. And I expect Kellen to be perfect. (Laughs) So we’ve got a lot of motivation that we give each other.
HF: It’s one thing playing with a good friend but it’s another playing with one of your brothers and for you guys being twins that has to be extra special.
CJ: Yeah, I mean Kellen is my best friend. We live together and do a lot of things together. But I think part of what makes this Quinnipiac team so special is that we’re all close and we all want to be successful together. Kellen is a great player and a great guy and I look forward to spending the next few years of my life with him for sure.
KJ: Like Connor said, you’re out there with your best friend. Our team is real close and we all have the same goals. So I think that’s why we’ve gotten to where we are right now. Everyone on our team, especially us, are the competitive ones on the team. I think we lead the way in that category. We’re also competitive against each other, too.
CJ: We’re both out there before practice and just working on being able to better read and communicate with each other, too.
HF: Kellen, you seem more like the goal-scorer and Connor you seem to be more of the playmaker. Is that by design or by accident?
KJ: I think it’s the other way around. We both kind of do the same things and are the same kind of player, but we also have different areas that we excel in, too. I think both of us can shoot the puck a little more.
CJ: We’ll have games where he’s got three assists and I’ll have a couple of goals. So it switches. In fact, I think Matt is a great addition to our line because he passes, skates and shoots, and is able to help us put it all together too.
HF: Would you both say that from a skill standpoint that you two are interchangeable?
KJ: Yeah, I think so.
CJ: I think the part where he runs the power-play and I am on the face-offs is probably a little different. But other than that I think we are and we’re pretty good. I know that Kellen is a pretty good winger and we like our spots.
HF: How would each of you describe yourselves as a player?
KJ: I’d say that I’m the type of player that, when he loses the puck, he wants to get it back. I’d like to know how big the guys are that I’m going up against because I don’t want to lose that battle. I think relentless is a good word for both of us because I think that’s just the way we are.
CJ: I think our determination and work ethic is what we try to bring every day. We may not always have the best hands or best feet, but we can always go out there and outwork the other players. That’s one thing that I’ve learned from my dad and grandpa. You can always go out there and outwork somebody no matter what.
Follow DJ Powers on Twitter via @DJPowersHF