Andover native commits to AIC after hot start for the Oklahoma Warriors
20-year-old Hunter Jones is off to his best start in junior hockey and leads the Warriors both in goals and points.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLA. — Andover native Hunter Jones has played junior hockey in four different cities across the nation; Bismarck (North Dakota), Waterloo (Iowa), Wichita Falls (Texas), and Oklahoma City.
It's not easy going from team to team, but Jones has made the most of his opportunities playing for each program and now leads his current team, the Oklahoma Warriors of the NAHL, in points (14) after nine games.
Growing up in East Bethel, Minnesota, Jones was exposed to hockey at a young age.
"I'm pretty much the first one in my family to start playing hockey. My daycare when I was younger had an outdoor rink and I started skating there when I was three," said the 20-year-old forward.
Jones and his family made the short move to Andover when he was in the fourth grade, and he ended up playing varsity with the Huskies in high school. Andover made a state tournament appearance during Jones' senior season, and they ended up the consolation champions of Class AA in 2020 after losing their first game.
The 5-foot-10 forward earned a tender with the NAHL's Bismarck Bobcats during his senior year of high school, but ended up only playing four games with the squad before being traded to the Wichita Falls Warriors.
The Minnesota native spent his first year of juniors primarily with the Warriors and started the next season with Waterloo in the USHL, logging 17 games with the Black Hawks.
"There's a lot of adversity when you're going to different teams ... I made the tough decision to go back to the NAHL, I just thought it was best for me," said Jones.
After returning to the NAHL from the USHL, Jones finished his second year of juniors in Wichita Falls. But then more change was on the menu when that organization decided to relocate to Oklahoma City for the 2022-23 season. Although it's not easy going from team to team, Jones has had his best start yet so far in juniors — leading the Warriors with 14 points in nine games — and was named the NAHL Forward of the Month in September.
"I'm more of a grinder, I like to make plays when I can, but I like to go as hard as I can and work as hard as I can," Jones said.
The 5-foot-10 forward caught the eyes of American International College (AIC) towards the tail end of the 2021-22 season, and Jones announced his commitment to the Division I hockey program on October 18.
I am proud and honored to announce my commitment to play division 1 hockey at American international college! I’d like to thank my family, friends, teammates, and coaches for helping me get to this point. #AICommitted pic.twitter.com/gZoG1b1pBR— Hunter Jones (@hunterjonesy) October 18, 2022
"I like the school, it's a smaller school, and it has great academics and hockey so I can just do my thing and it'll be awesome," said Jones on his college choice.
"I've done a lot of research on them and it just seems like a great culture there and a good family."
AIC has been one of the top teams in Atlantic Hockey the past few years, making lots of noise in the 2019 NCAA Tournament when the No. 16-seeded Yellow Jackets upset No. 1 seeded St. Cloud State at the NCAA West Regional in Fargo.
Jones hasn't been out to Massachusetts yet to visit the school, but plans on doing so soon. The Minnesota native enjoys traveling and is excited to see what it's like out on the East Coast after seeing a lot of the Midwest and the South while playing junior hockey.
The Oklahoma Warriors are currently fourth in the South Division, with a 7-2 record. Jones will continue to play with the Warriors this year and will head to AIC in the fall of 2023.