YOU didn’t back check …

Pro hockey player Connor Jones’ inspiring stories on life, hockey and everything in between.

The Trail Times is pleased to welcome Montrose native Connor Jones as a contributor in his column called Top Shelf Stories. (Submitted photo)

The Trail Times is pleased to welcome Montrose native Connor Jones as a contributor in his column called Top Shelf Stories. (Submitted photo)

By Connor Jones

One of our first ever hockey tournament games. I think it was in senior novice. We lost 16-6.

Kellen, my twin brother, and I each had a hat trick though. So, being seven years old we thought we had a pretty dang good game, despite the result.

So Kel and I happily left the arena. Our tiny selves opened the heavy doors as snow whipped in and pounded our faces. Between gusts of wind, we searched for our van’s dull brake lights. Found it, jeez, could they park any further away? We trudged through the snow with our hockey bags, that were almost bigger than us, over to the van (the rule being we always had to carry our own gear). Looking identical, with blonde buzz cuts and matching, bright blue Beaver Valley Minor Hockey jackets, we opened the trunk, chucked our gear in and hopped in the back seats.

I can’t remember who broke the silence after it was strangely quiet for the first couple of minutes on the drive home. Someone had the audacity to ask my parents what they thought about our performance. The two of us in the back, joyously thinking, ‘wow, we played pretty good eh? Three goals and three assists each, way to go.’

I’m sure it was me now who asked. A confused young boy who wanted to hear a little praise and also, was very curious as to why our parents hadn’t offered to take us to McDonald’s to get McFlurries to celebrate our great game.

Wow. I wish I kept my mouth shut. Our mom told us the truth and she was completely right.

She went off the rails. It was a complete verbal bloodbath.

Now, imagine hearing curse words throughout the entire next two paragraphs.

“You weren’t any good. You played too soft, you two were bullied by the other team. You fell down too much, didn’t move your feet, didn’t back check, and coasted the entire game! You didn’t pass enough! Whined at the referee! You showed poor body language and gave your poor goalie dirty looks after he let in some bad goals!”

My dad is now pulling over the van near the train tracks at Bluebird Corner. We see him give my Mom a quick squeeze on the arm, “Loretta…”

“No!” She cuts him off, “They need to learn!”

She doesn’t miss a beat. “If you two ever play like that again, then you won’t be playing hockey anymore! If you’re going to do anything, you better give it your all! I don’t care what it is! Hockey, or school, chores, whatever! That’s what we expect, your best effort! Always!”

Maybe it was a bit harsh, but it was some of my Mom’s finest work.

Fully blubbering, we arrive home after the longest six-minute drive from the Beaver Valley Arena to Montrose.

Mom and dad get out of the van to head inside, but the two of us stay in our seats trying to pull ourselves together. Unable to move, we were so upset. Finally, once we were able to speak between cries, two tiny seven year olds promised one another we would always work our hardest, on or off the ice. Making sure this never happened again.

More importantly, we weren’t going to ask Mom what she thought about our games for a few years.

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The Trail Times is pleased to welcome Montrose native Connor Jones as a contributor. With the current pandemic, Connor’s professional hockey career has been put on hold, so the Quinnipiac University graduate put pen to paper and will share monthly stories of his prolific journey and lessons learned along the way.

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