Friday, March 02, 2018

Zack Jones: 16-Year-Old Forward Commits to UNH

Zack Jones
2020 UNH Commit
"Quick and fast with excellent agility to create and pursue. Makes plays at top speed. Provides energy and enthusiasm and can help his team win without scoring. Prepared and tough to play against." Neutral Zone
Last week, UNH received its first commitment from a player born in 2001. 16-year-old Zack Jones (DOB: 3/31/2001), a 5'9", 155 lbs., left-shot forward from Bridgewater, Massachusetts, is on target to enroll at UNH in 2020. The only other 16-year-old committed to UNH is Tim St├╝tzle (DOB: 1/15/2000), a forward for the Mannheim (Germany) Young Eagles, who is currently the third leading scorer (18G, 29A) in the Under-19 German Development League (DNL).

Jones recently completed his third season with the Boston Bandits Under-16 team. He tied for third in scoring in the 16U Division of the United States Premiere Hockey League (USPHL). In 26 regular season games, Jones tallied 22 goals (Tied 6th) and 31 assists (5th Highest).

Before the 2017-18 season began, Zack Jones played in the annual Beantown Summer Classic. He competed against 2000-2002 birth-year players in the Futures Division. The scouts from Neutral Zone** ranked Jones as a "B+" forward and provided this assessment:

"His skating has improved, specifically his straight-line speed. He flew around the ice here. More importantly, he made plays at top speed. However, as skilled as he is 1v1, we felt he tried to do too much at times. He must improve his ability and willingness to move the puck and get to space without it to round out his offensive game. Overall, he worked hard and was tough to play against. Can tell he loves the game."
Rating - 3 1/2 out 5 Stars.

** Reprinted by permission of Brendan Collins, Director of Scouting at Neutral Zone.

Jones jumped out to a quick start scoring 11 goals and 21 assists over the first 15 games of the 2017-18 season. The first goal in the highlight video (see below) is from a Boston Bandits 16U game in early October. Jones accelerates out of the defensive zone, eludes four opposing players through the three zones, and flips a backhand under the goalies glove.

On January 15th, Zack Jones participated in the 2018 USPHL 16U All Star Game held at Merrimack College. Midway through the second period, Jones - wearing #9 in the white jersey - scooped up a loose puck in the corner, slashed to the faceoff circle, and ripped a wrist shot top corner over the goalies glove. This nifty goal is shown in the second clip on the video highlights:

The Boston Bandits lost the opening round of the USPHL 16U Playoffs. Over the course of this season, Jones was called up to play a half dozen games with the Bandits' National Collegiate Development Conference team. With the 16U season over, Jones joined the NCDC team for two games last weekend. On Saturday, Jones centered the Bandits' second line. On his first shift, he raced down the ice on a 2-on-none break and one-timed a nice setup pass from Josh Vertentes (see final clip). As Zack explains in our interview, returning to play for the Boston Bandits NCDC team next season is one option he will consider.


I had an opportunity to interview Zack Jones, via email, about his hockey career and commitment to UNH:

Mike Lowry ("C-H-C"): Congratulations on your commitment to play for the University of New Hampshire. What are the main reasons you chose UNH?

Zack Jones: The tradition, the big ice surface and the type of game they play fits my style. I also felt very comfortable with the coaching staff.

Mike Lowry: What other college programs were you considering? Which schools did you visit and which ones made an offer to you?

Zack Jones: I spoke with a few other schools, but I have always felt UNH would be a great place to play and a good fit for me. So when they showed interest in me it was easy to make the decision.

Lowry: Have you and the UNH coaches agreed on a target date for you to enroll as a freshman at UNH and join the team?

Jones: Right now, the target date is the fall of 2020.

Lowry: At this stage in your hockey development, what are the strengths of your game? What areas are you trying to improve?

Jones: I feel I am a good skater and offensively I can create and produce. I need to increase strength and continue to work on my complete game.

Lowry: In your first season with the Boston Bandits U16 team, you scored 5 goals in 28 games. Over the last two seasons, your goal-scoring increased to 22 goals in 30 games (2016-17) and 22 goals in 26 games (2017-18). What factors have lead to this big jump in goal-scoring?

Jones: The biggest factor was confidence and also I worked hard in the off-seasons to get stronger and faster.

Lowry: Your Dad, Mark Jones, is the Director of Player Personnel for the Boston Bandits and he was your coach on the U16 team. What's the best piece of hockey advice he's given you?

Jones: He has always pushed me to work hard and be coachable. He reminds me that there is always something to learn and improve on. He is always there for me and we have had a lot of fun. He has taught me to respect the game of hockey.

Lowry: This season, you were called up to play 8 games with the Boston Bandits' National Collegiate Development Conference team. Do you plan to play for them next season?

Jones: It is so early, my season has just ended. I am going to look at all my options and play at the best place I can develop and get better as a player. The Bandits are one of those options for sure.

Lowry: Do you plan to play in either the United States Hockey League or British Columbia Hockey League before you come to UNH?

Jones: Those are options as well but I will find the best fit for me. It's really about where I can become the best player, not about the league. Those are great leagues and I will consider everything over the next few years.

Lowry: Your brother Cooper plays for the Halifax Mooseheads in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In 2017, Halifax drafted you in the 13th round. Do you have any interest in forgoing the NCAA route and playing major junior hockey in Canada?

Jones: My brother and I have always wanted to play at the highest levels. The CHL and Hockey East are where many of the top players are. So we both considered college and the CHL, but I am committed to UNH and excited for the future.

Lowry: When do you plan to graduate from high school? What are your academic strengths and interests? Have you thought about what you might major in when you enroll at UNH?

Jones: I will graduate in the Spring of 2019. I have not considered a major yet.


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