There are, of course, times that Connor Jones and Kellen Jones, 31-year-old twin brothers, get on each other's nerves. What brothers don't? But they believe, especially on the ice, they're better together than apart.
The Komets, who begin defense of the Kelly Cup championship at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Coliseum against the Wheeling Nailers, are banking that the brothers' camaraderie, chemistry and instincts can lead the offense.
“We've gotten along pretty well. Particularly as we've gotten older, we've gotten a little nicer to each other. But there are still the odd scraps here and there,” Connor Jones said with a chuckle. “I think when you're around someone so often, you tend to get into little arguments. But we're best of pals and I think we're super, super excited to get our families together and play another year side by side.”
The two have spent almost their entire careers playing on the same team, whether it was four years in juniors with the Vernon Vipers, four years at Quinnipiac University, time with the American Hockey League's Bridgeport Sound Tigers or last season with Sweden's Vasterviks IK – usually skating on the same line.
“Connor plays center and he's done a great job at winning faceoffs and does good supporting down low. I've always played wing, and we just try to work with each other and read what we're going to do,” Kellen Jones said. “We just try to have really good support and finish off good passes, make good plays in the (offensive) zone, and just try to play a complete game that leads to offensive success.”
They have played 793 games in their careers, totaling 127 goals, 338 points and 518 penalty minutes. For Connor Jones, that includes four scoreless games with the NHL's New York Islanders in 2016-17.
The Komets have lost a bevy of offensive stars from last season – Brandon Hawkins, Anthony Nellis, A.J. Jenks, Shawn Szydlowski, Marco Roy, Justin Vaive and Alan Lyszczarczyk – and are depending on the Jones brothers to help fill the void.
“We're sort of similar players,” Connor Jones said. “We both compete very hard, and work very hard, and I think you'll see pretty quickly on the ice that he's a little smoother than me. I'm a little reckless. You'll see the differences like that, but we've had a lot of success playing together and anytime you have a linemate for as long as we've played together, you have a certain chemistry that becomes second nature.”
Connor Jones had three goals and 13 points in 29 games last season, and Kellen Jones had 10 goals and 24 points in 51 games, but they're not afraid to get their noses dirty. In fact, they're looking forward to returning to North American hockey because physical play is more prevalent than in Europe, where Connor Jones had a spell leading the Swiss league in goals and penalty minutes for Thurgau in 2019-20.
“I'm not going to absolutely rip up the goal scoring sheets, but I'm going to do the best I can and try to put the puck in the net and win games whenever possible,” Kellen Jones said.
Notes: The two unnamed players who had COVID-19 last week could play Saturday, depending on doctor approval, after negative tests this week. ... The new captain will likely be unveiled at game time. ... Former Indiana Tech player Francesco Corona made Tulsa's roster. ... Former Fort Wayne Spacemen defenseman Darick Louis-Jean signed with Trois-Rivières.