It was only one game in a prospect showcase but Flames winger Josh Jooris has given plenty of optimism for the long road ahead.
Jooris was amongst the Calgary players that shined the brightest in Flames’ 6-4 win over Winnipeg yesterday at the Young Stars Classic in Penticton, as he netted two goals and added an assist. Jooris, along with linemates Markus Granlund and Michael Ferland combined for nine points (4-5-9) and a +5 rating.
“It obviously feels good but at the end of the day it’s pretty early in the season, just the first game,” Jooris said following the victory. “We got the kinks out, the summer legs out of the way. The first period was a bit sloppy but it was nice to get some game action in and get on the score sheet but the next challenge is following that up and I hope to do that tonight.”
Jooris’ performance should come as no surprise as the Union College graduate put together a strong rookie campaign with 27 points (11-16-27) over 73 games with the Abbotsford Heat. Jooris certainly had no questions with durability, as his 73 games played was second most on the Heat roster, but showing up to play consistently is a goal entering the 2014-15 season.
The first professional campaign for Jooris highlighted his high skill level but also the inconsistency, as it featured six sets of games where he scored on back-to-back nights and four multi-point games, but also nine stretches of four games or more where he went without a point. Those gaps in scoring are not an issue of ability for the 6’1” winger, but rather one of finding his top stride on a more regular basis.
Working with Adirondack Flames Head Coach Ryan Huska so early in the season will give Jooris a nice look ahead at a potential stead with Adirondack. Huska, like Jooris, stressed consistency for a player who could serve as a veteran on a sure to be talented but inexperienced squad in Glens Falls.
“We’re going to need him to be consistent,” Huska said. “I think that’s something that’s going to be important for a guy that’s going to bring us energy when he’s on the ice all the time. Your older players need to lead the way by example. It’s funny when you say older at 24, but he could be one of the older guys when you look at some of the people we may have [in Glens Falls] this year.”
While at first glance it does seem a bit humorous to think of a 24-year old, second year player as “older”, Jooris is one of just seven players on Calgary’s camp roster with a full season of professional hockey under his belt. His experience in going through a 70+ game grind that several younger guys on the team have never gone through will weight moving through the Penticton tournament and into training camp and the regular season.
Jooris will begin tonight’s game in the middle of the ice, rather than on the wing. With Granlund out of the lineup tonight and Ferland on the first unit, Jooris will find himself skating with two players of slightly less in experience in 2013 first round selection Morgan Klimchuk and camp invitee Pavel Padakin. Despite the deviation from a successful combination from a night ago, the veteran winger understands the depth and talent throughout the roster.
“We’ve got a pretty solid team here, everyone is obviously here for a reason and I’m open to playing with anyone, it’s a great bunch of guys in there.”
Building off of last night’s performance could prove to be the first leap in a season of growth for Josh Jooris. Creating consistency and building off of a performance, one night to the next, rather than seeing his stops and starts from 2013-14 is certainly a stride Jooris aims to hit.
“It was obviously a good start to training camp here,” Jooris said. “Consistency is a big thing going forward, it’s huge. I learned last year that it’s a long year and consistency is key. Following up games is big and I’ll try and do that tonight.”