Penn State Men’s Hockey Player Spotlight: Peyton Jones
For as little support as junior goaltender Peyton Jones has received on the ice recently, his family has compensated with flying colors.
The Pennsylvania native has been in net for the last four Penn State losses, but he isn’t deserving of the blame. Jones has weathered the storm amid the Nittany Lions’ recent slide, keeping his save percentage just a few ticks below .900, despite facing a multitude of shots every night. While some hockey faithful might be losing faith in the netminder, the support from home has not withered.
“I’m very fortunate that my family comes to every home game. I’m from Philadelphia, so [they’re] three hours away. My dad actually travels to all the away games,” Jones said.
This type of support on the home front is what any player needs, and Jones is quick to recognize his luck even if the puck hasn’t bounced his way as of recently. The junior will lead the team with 19 starts after Thursday’s Michigan series in Ann Arbor.
As head coach Guy Gadowsky keeps his faith in Jones, the goaltender’s confidence has remained.
Short-term memory loss is a trait he credits to his success. While not an easy skill to develop, Jones recognizes that it has been instrumental to him at the college level. Where he learned to refine his short-term memory came during his time in the United States Hockey League.
“It’s not easy. I’ve been playing goal for a while, but I think the time that I developed that skill was when I was in the USHL. My second year, I had a goalie coach come in, Clay Adams, and he told me that after you give up a goal, it’s like when you go to the bathroom-you flush it down the toilet and freshwater comes up,” Jones said.
Even if it is difficult to block out the less than stellar moments, Jones has been fortunate to develop some long-term memory loss as well. After a tough loss, Jones refuses to let himself dwell for too long. Instead, he can look at things with good perspective and understands how fortunate he is to attend Penn State.
“It’s not like we’re sitting in our rooms pouting over [a loss]. For a lot of guys, hockey is our life, but you can only put so much mind power into the game. You have to be able to step away, look back and think [that] we’re just kids that are in college, and we’re fortunate enough to play a game at a high-profile school like Penn State,” Jones said.
Nonetheless, the Nittany Lions have a chance to better their fortunes in the Michigan series, and Jones will be major factor if successful. Losing four of their last five games, Penn State will need its goalie to play at his best, especially in an environment like Madison Square Garden.
“New York City, Madison Square Garden, it doesn’t get much better than that. I think that [game] is going to be a very special time for our team, for a lot of guys who have family coming in. It should be a fun night,” Jones said.
Even so, for Jones to reach this stage is unlikely, giving his family’s lack of a hockey background. Having a father who played baseball, basketball and football in high school, the last sport many would pick Jones to choose would be hockey. Nonetheless, here he is, suiting up in Happy Valley, donning the netminder’s attire.
“My dad took me to a Flyers game when I was four or five years old," Jones said. "That’s kind of how I got playing the sport.”
Crediting his family and their proximity to State College, it’s easy to understand how Jones fits in not only on the ice but on campus as well. With the unwavering support of his family, expect Penn State’s goaltender to be at the forefront of a late season push to turn around a season that has gone sour in Big Ten play.
Andrew Destin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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