The Traveling, Sock-Tricking Journeys of Adam Jones
Many of us have busy lives, and then there is Adam Jones, who is about to hit the road again. Because every game is a road trip for the 26-year-old Colorado Mammoth forward.
Jones finishes teaching phys-ed and science classes at a high school in Owen Sound, Ontario, just after 3 p.m. Eastern last Friday afternoon, hops into his car and drives south for 2 1/2 hours to Pearson International Airport just outside Toronto. He flies to Chicago and then on to Denver, getting to his hotel room at 1 a.m. local time.
"I woke up for breakfast at 9, played a couple of games of euchre, got my suit on and went to the game," he says.
Normally, Jones would have to rise earlier to get to a morning shoot-around, but not this time because there's an early start to Colorado's home game against Vancouver, 5 p.m. local time, to create space between the NLL game and an evening outdoor NHL game between the Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings. So no shoot-around, which leads to a touch of trepidation.
"We were coming off a bye weekend, so I hadn't had my stick in my hands for nearly two weeks," Jones says. "We were rusty in the first half, and maybe that was the reason why."
The Stealth are up 6-2 at halftime. When they go up 8-2, the Mammoth pull starting goalie Dillon Ward, and Alex Buque enters the Colorado crease. The switch provides a wakeup call. It is 9-4 after three quarters, and Jones has yet to score a goal. He has taken plenty of shot, but can not get a ball behind Tyler Richards.
The Mammoth are on a power play early in the fourth when Jones, who shoots from the left side, fires a ball to the low short-side corner of the net.
"[Richards] saved it, but he was leaning the other way," Jones recalls. "That shot was close to going in, and I figured next time I got the ball, I would aim for the same corner."
The next time down the floor, that's exactly what Jones does. He scores five consecutive goals in a span of 7 minutes, 30 seconds, and now it is 9-9.
Corey Small and Callum Crawford exchange goals. It is 10-10 with four minutes remaining. Both teams have chances to score as the minutes disappear. In the dying seconds, Jones has the ball in his stick. Fourteen-thousand spectators rise to their feet.
"I didn't know how much time was left," Jones says. "I felt there were still 10 or 15 seconds left. I took a shot. I wasn't really aiming. In my head, I was thinking, 'Everything was going in, so I'll just shoot and hope for the best.'''
Two seconds remain when the ball goes in, giving Colorado an 11-10 victory. Jones is mobbed by his teammates as the crowd roars its approval.
"It was a surreal feeling," he says.
In most unbelievable and unconventional fashion, Jones has what in the NLL has become known as a sock trick — six goals equaling two hat tricks. Dozens of pairs of socks stream from the stands onto the turf. Jones sits on the bench smiling as people scurry to pick them up. Jones had scored six goals in his previous home game, so he is getting used to the additional footwear.
Colorado's defense had held Vancouver to 13 shots on Buque, who let in only two goals, and Jones had done the rest.
"When it came down to crunch time, the big boy stepped up," co-coach Chris Gill says.
The Mammoth, 7-2, have the NLL's best record.
"We're getting bounces and finding ways to win," Jones says. "Last year we had tight games we didn't win. This year, we're more confident as a group."
Two reasons why: the insertion of Crawford on the attack, which has developed a newfound chemistry, and fewer goals being allowed by the goaltenders behind stronger defense.
"In the past, when things went against us it was, 'Uh oh, here we go again,'" Jones says. "Now the attitude is, 'OK, let's start playing like we know we can.'"
Jones has a 6 a.m. flight the next morning. He gets home to Owen Sound at 5:45 p.m. Eastern. At 6 p.m., he and his fiancée and their parents go out for dinner to toast her Tuesday birthday.
A few days later, he is standing in front of teens teaching them about a process called meiosis, which concerns cell division in animals and plants. Jones has his travel bag ready again. He will walk out of his school shortly after 3 p.m. Eastern on Friday, get in his car, and drive 2 1/2 hours south to Pearson International to fly to Denver via Chicago. There will be a challenging game against the NLL East-leading New England Black Wolves on Saturday night.
"It's going to be a heck of a game," Jones says.
Hard to trump the one he just had.
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