More than being remembered as a No.1 NHL draft pick, Seth Jones would much rather stand out for something else.
“Everybody wants to be winner,” said the Portland Winterhawks defenceman.
Naturally, Jones, junior hockey’s top ranked player, isn’t fazed about the mounting hype leading into his Memorial Cup opening matchup on Saturday, in which he’ll faceoff against two other projected top draft picks in the Halifax Mooseheads’ Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin.
“We’re not worried about the rankings or draft right now, our sole focus is to win the Memorial Cup,” said Jones on Friday. “But I love going up against great players like Nathan and Jon.
Like everyone, he ‘s well aware of the Mooseheads’ superior skill and depth, which should pose a challenge to his team’s formidable defensive unit.
“They have great skill, great speed,” said Jones. “We really have to shut them down with our speed, get on them, not let them wind up in the defensive zone, not let them bring it up the ice, because (Nathan and Jon) like to bring the puck up the middle of the ice.
“We have a lot of good forwards and defencemen that are going to be able to shut them down.”
While breezing through the playoffs may end up rewarding a more rested Mooseheads club, the more battle-tested Winterhawks may have an advantage after withstanding two six-game series en route to their WHL title.
“Who knows,” said Jones. “We’ll see how it goes tomorrow.”