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Sound Tigers Jones ‘growing into a great leader’

November 10, 2018

BRIDGEPORT — From a tryout in training camp three years ago to a spot between two of the New York Islanders’ top prospects now, Connor Jones has grown into one of the Bridgeport Sound Tigers’ mainstays at center.

“I think Jonesy’s been progressively growing into a great leader,” Bridgeport coach Brent Thompson said. “His attitude, his energy, his practice habits, he approaches every day like a pro. He’s very detail-oriented, and he’s passionate about the team.”

Jones, 28, has cracked the franchise’s top 20 with 190 games played for Bridgeport. No one has played more for the Sound Tigers after first arriving on a pro tryout, which he did to start 2015-16 before earning an AHL contract.

Over the past two seasons and the first 13 games of this year, the Sound Tigers are 87-65-9-4, but when Jones is out of the lineup, they’re 9-16-1-0.

And this season, most of the time, he has been between Michael Dal Colle and Josh Ho-Sang, and though the Sound Tigers’ two leading scorers have done a lot of their offensive damage on the power play, they’ve had effective even-strength time together, too.

“Jonesy’s really the leader of that line, really guides us, teaches us when we need to be taught,” Ho-Sang said Wednesday. “He’s really good at working with Mike and I.”

Dal Colle missed two games, but the trio was reunited a week ago in Springfield. They were effective together that night in a 3-2 loss, but Bridgeport has won three in a row going into home games Saturday against Providence and Sunday against league-leading Charlotte.

“We get along really well off the ice, and on the ice, we’ve got good chemistry,” said Jones, who played a lot with Ho-Sang in the second half of last season.

“I try to get those guys the puck as much as I can, you know? Anytime Sanger has the puck on his stick, he’s a threat to make a great play. D.C.’s just playing awesome: Both of them are playing great right now.”

Jones, a product of Quinnipiac, returned to Bridgeport on an AHL contract in 2016-17 and signed an NHL deal that February. He played last year under an NHL deal and came back on another AHL deal this season.

Thompson said Jones has grown into a reliable defensive player and penalty killer, improving on faceoffs, and a player with “bite” to his game.

“Coming in on a PTO, Tommer (Thompson) believed in me and wanted me to play my game,” Jones said. “I worked as hard as I could into that checking role, to be hard to play against, to solidify a role for this team.

“I’ve always tried to do anything I can to help the team, whether it’s score a goal, have a hit, or even fight. It’s been a good fit with Tommer. He’s a no-BS type of guy, and I really like that. I want to work hard, and I want to win.”

Missing this year, though, is Jones’ twin brother, Kellen, who’s playing this season in Vastervik, Sweden. They’d played separately for the first time in 2015-16 but were reunited here the next season, usually with Kellen on Connor’s left wing; Kellen was up and down last year between the Sound Tigers and their ECHL affiliate in Worcester, Mass.

“It’s been weird. We obviously miss each other as friends and brothers, but I’m happy for his opportunity in Europe,” Connor Jones said.

“It’s weird with the time change and stuff, but we talk all the time, and I’ll watch his games, and he’ll watch mine. He’s been playing center, so I’ve been giving him tips. He just recently married, so he and his wife are having a really good time in Sweden.”

mfornabaio@ctpost.com; @fornabaioctp; blog.ctnews.com/fornabaio

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