Player to Watch: We Sit Down With Freshman Goaltender Peyton Jones
Peyton Jones’ first time in goal for the Penn State ice hockey team went pretty well by most standards — or actually, by any standard.
The tall and lanky freshman from Langhorne, Pa., became the first Nittany Lion freshman goaltender to earn a win in his first career start. After giving up an early goal, Jones settled down, stopping 28 of 30 shots overall, including all but one of the 23 shots he faced in the second and third periods.
This all happened when Penn State claimed a 4-2 victory over No. 16 St. Lawrence on Oct. 6 at Pegula Ice Arena, as four Nittany Lions scored on opening night. From 2014–16, Jones played for the Lincoln Stars of the United States Hockey League, where he helped lead his team to the playoffs last season with a 19-11-3 record.
Speaking during the team’s media day last month, Jones discussed how a growth spurt in high school continues to give him an edge, his approach in goal, and in addition to the hockey program, what drew him to Penn State.
On if sophomore goaltender Chris Funkey has been a mentor early on: “Yeah, for sure. Right when I came in, he told me, ‘Let me know if you need anything, and I’m always here for you.’ Whenever I do need something, he’s always there. On the ice working, if I’m doing something that he doesn’t think is correct, he’ll tell me; and vice versa, so it’s been good.”
His playing style: “I’m a bigger goalie, I’m 6'4", and I grew about 6-8 inches my senior year of high school. I was always a little goalie, so I had to be fast. One advantage I have is that I’m a quicker guy because I had to be before, and then I hit a growth spurt. I’m a big, quick goalie who loves to compete and play the game.”
Whether or not he compares himself to anyone in the NHL: “I love watching Carey Price (Montreal Canadians goalie). He’s one of the best there is, so he’s a good guy to watch. I watch him on Instagram and YouTube, see different drills he does, how he does different things. I wouldn’t say I model my game off someone, because I take different things from different people. Everyone has their own way they play, but I look at things that different guys do, I try it out and see if I like it. If I don’t, then I move on, because there’s not a set way to play.”
On something that’s stood out during the first few weeks at Penn State: “Last year, I took one class online each semester, and now I’m taking five classes in-class. I’d just say the workload and time management is huge, because when I was there, I went to the rink, worked out, practiced and then went home and did whatever I wanted. Now, I wake up, go to class, go to study hall hours, workout, practice, watch video, rehab — all that stuff. Managing time is probably the biggest thing for me.”
Watching the NHL pre-season game between the Buffalo Sabres and Minnesota Wild: “When I committed here, I came in the summer in August (off-season), so that was the first time that I saw a game at Pegula, period. It was definitely awesome, and to see everyone on the ice, and the fans and the Roar Zone, so I’m excited for the season.”
Fitting into the system at Penn State: “We have a system that we play, and (I’m focused on) moving the puck as a goalie and making the saves that I need to make. Things are going to happen that shouldn’t happen in a game, or systems are going to go wrong. There are going to be breakdowns, but I think just play your game. Make the saves that need to be made, and I think you’ll be fine.”
Working with the team’s strength and conditioning coach, Cam Davidson: “Cam got me in great shape. I came in here, and I probably gained 10 pounds of muscle since I got here in the summer, so it’s been great. I worked on my leg strength, my quickness and my speed; and also on mobility in my hips, and making sure that I’m staying flexible as I’m getting stronger and faster. Cam has been a huge help to me.”
Outside of hockey, what stood out to him when he visited campus: “Everyone I met here was great, but one thing that really stood out to me is how clean and how taken care of campus was. I visited probably 8-10 schools total, and I definitely think Penn State is so clean and taken care of, and it’s a great community.”
Photo from gopsusports.com