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On Friday night, Stoney Creek graduate Max Jones is expected to be drafted in the first round of the 2016 NHL Draft. Jones recently walked with his graduation class from Stoney Creek High School in Rochester Hills, but he only spent the first 2 years of high school in the classroom, as he took online classes and was playing for the US National Team and London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League the past 2 years.
Jones was thrilled to walk alongside his graduating class and was very thankful of Stoney Creek for allowing his high school experience to be complete, "being able to graduate with Stoney was great. Walking with the kids I was friends with since 6th grade of middle school was something special."
Max Jones has worked hard for the past 2 years to get to where he is now and with good genetic in his family, he knew all the pieces would fall into place well, as Jones discussed when he seriously began taking hockey seriously, "I think I had the idea a long time ago. Maybe 4 or 5 years ago. I knew that I had some natural talent. My dad played in the NHL and my mom was a record-breaking diver at the University of Michigan. I had a couple awards along the way, top scorer, all-star teams, rookie of the year nomination."
As Jones career began to shape he left his home to travel with the United States U-17 and U-18 teams, Jones discussed what it meant to play for his country, "Playing for my country was great. It's not every day that you get to wear the USA logo across your chest and that's what makes it so special."
Just this past year, Jones played for the London Knights who won the league's Memorial Cup. Jones is just 18 years old and the young age hasn't shied Jones away from anything as he finished his first season in the OHL with 63 games played with an impressive 28 goals and 24 assists logged. Jones provided his reaction to his time in London, "Playing in London for my draft year was great. London does such a great job at making professional players and I was just happy to be a part of it. We ended up winning the league and then going on to win the Memorial Cup so that helps also."
Jones is listed as a 6'3" and 201 lbs on eliteprospects.com and many outlets praise his skill. Those measurables often spell trouble for opponents, Jones described himself as a player, "I'm a power forward with skill. I play the game very hard. My compete level and size is what makes me who I am. I have a hard shot and am a very fast skater." As for what he will be improving on in the future, Jones responded, "Being more agile in the corners and spinning off the Defense."
Eliteprospects also listed this tidbit on Jones, "Max Jones is a diligent and hard-working power forward capable of being an impact player every shift. He's strong on the puck and routinely looks to create separation. He knows his game inside out and has a wide array of tools at his disposal. Strength and speed allow him to bull his way to the front of the net where he is relentless and creates havoc. Makes smart decisions with the puck and doesn't give the opposition time and space. Possesses high-end finishing ability and "wills" the puck to the back of the net. All-in-all, a determined forward who puts tremendous pressure on his opponents when he's on the ice."
Jones left town on Tuesday evening to meet with NHL teams prior to the draft but it wasn't before he got to connect with his friends and family one last time before his life becomes engulfed as a pro-athlete. Jones took a moment to share how he's feeling ahead of the draft, "I'm pretty nervous," said Jones. "I'm not too sure what team I'm gonna go to, so it's pretty nerve wracking. Also excited because it's been a dream of mine ever since I started playing the sport."