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Maggie Jones magnificent for undefeated Canadians in Liberec

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Backstopping Canada to the gold medal at the ISBHF U21 Worlds, Maggie Jones became a national hero. Providing consistency throughout the event, sporting an undefeated mark and a shutout in the gold medal game versus Slovakia, provincial pride was equally essential. Hailing from Marystown, Newfoundland, she was among nine members from Canada’s most easterly province on the golden roster.

From opening faceoff, Jones established herself as a key contributor in Canada’s success. Enjoying 20 saves in Canada’s opening game of the tournament, vanquishing Slovakia in a 5-1 final, it marked the first of two wins in one day. An evening match versus Czechia saw Jones make 30 saves in a 3-1 final. Recognized as Player of the Game for Canada, Jones’ stellar efforts set the tone for the remainder of the tournament.

Sharing goaltending duties with Abegael Glass, this distinguishe duo enjoyed an undefeated mark of 6-0. Their synergy between the pipes reflected a sensational team culture. From a collective goal of winning to mutual respect, confidence emanated throughout every game. Admirably praising the unified effort, Jones sentiments are filled with a sense of empowerment. 

“The amount of heart everyone had on the team was just incredible and is something that is truly a pleasure to be apart of. We never looked past each game; we put our heads down and worked the best we could each time we took the floor. We were all on the same page, sharing the same goals, which allowed us to play at our best each game. Being undefeated was really a testament to the bond we forged over the tournament and the enormous amount of heart the team really had.”

Statistically, Jones enjoyed 180 minutes of playing time, posting a Goals Against Average of 2.00. With a .927 save percentage, her finest hour took place in the gold medal game, contested at Svijanska Arena in Liberec, Czechia, resulting in her only shutout of the tournament.

Undoubtedly, the effort proved perfect timing for a hotly contested affair versus Slovakia. Adding sheen to such an achievement saw the jubilant Jones earn the Game’s MVP Award, a fitting tribute for such an exceptional display of poise and durability. In a match filled with intensity, the focus of Jones allowed her team an opportunity to win. With a multitude of emotions encompassing her recollections on such a meaningful time, the victory stood as a tribute to those that served as an inspiration in her hockey dream.

“That Gold Medal Game marked the pinnacle of what I could possibly achieve as a goaltender and competitive athlete in ball hockey. Also, my greatest challenge to date. I was surrounded by the most talented players in the world and my peers, who were now my dearest friends. If there was ever a moment to play my best, it was now. It was momentous and surreal, and I was completely focused and in the zone.

Everything we have done in the past two years as a team came down to this game. You could physically feel tension and excitement in the air. It was an amazing experience, and I was incredibly proud of our team and management staff, who worked their hearts out. We were a unit, Canadian dynamite, and so proud and honored to represent our country. I felt the weight of this and so much pride to be part of this program, and I wanted nothing more than to succeed and get what we truly deserved.

That game, I played for my team, and everyone who had supported me—my family, my hometown, my province, every coach that ever encouraged me, every teacher and mentor, my whole sports community, and Village—was on my mind. They carried me through. My focus was really on making each save and shutout, and the MVP of the game was just how it played out. I thrived under pressure and felt that we could win.

It was an honor to be given such awards and share them with the girls because I see the awards as an extension of the team’s success. When I look back on these events and achievements, I don’t think about how I played; instead, I think about what everyone else has done to give me the opportunity to play my best. Which is what makes these accomplishments so important to me.”

Also starring on the ice at the NCAA level with the Morrisville State Mustangs, named the State University of New York Athletic Conference Goaltender of the Week on October 30, 2023, Jones entered this season with another impressive addition of hockey hardware. Recognized as Top Goaltender at the U21 Worlds, the honour marked a humbling moment for the gracious Jones.

“I was honestly surprised. The number of amazing goalies I competed against was amazing! Especially the goalies on the USA and Great Britain, who were absolutely pelted with ball and had probably an average of 50+ shots a game. The amount of mental toughness shown by them throughout the tournament was commendable. Especially when some of those girls were 14 years old, which I found incredibly brave having to play against girls 5–6 years older, let alone the best in the world. The amount of drive they had was admirable, which I thought deserved an award in itself.

When I came into the tournament, I was not expecting to win anything; I just wanted to show what I could do and play my best for those who have supported me. So its rewarding to have my efforts realized on the international stage and shared with my closest friends.”

In the aftermath of the ISBHF U21 Worlds, Jones went full-circle. Wearing the iconic white and burgundy jersey of Newfoundland United at the Canadian Ball Hockey Association (CBHA) Nationals, this new chapter marked a dream come true. A perpetual contender at Nationals, many of United’s prominent stars were role models throughout her journey on the slab. Gaining the opportunity to become part of this exceptional group, Jones, not only rose to prominence, both took on the mantle of role models.

Appearing in five tournament games, Jones enjoyed four wins, highlighted by shutouts versus the BC Selects and Manitoba Mayhem, she was not the only star from the U21 team on-hand at Nationals. The 4-0 victory versus Manitoba found a highly familiar face on the opposite end of the slab, as Abegael Glass earned the start, providing Jones with one of the most emotional games of the tournament.

Opening game for United saw Neleh Vigneau Sargeant, Canada’s leading scorer and Tournament Offensive MVP, wear the colors of the Edmonton Cherry Pickers. Worth noting, Vigneau Sargeant earned an assist, continuing her consistent ways on offense, although it spoiled Shannon Fahey’s bid for a shutout.

Fittingly, Jones was not the only Newfoundlander from the U21 team found on United’s roster. Raised in Glovertown, Jenni Simpson enjoyed the opportunity to call Jones a teammate twice in one year. Finishing the Nationals with three goals, including finding the back of the net in the semifinals, the combined presence of Simpson and Jones provides United with a pair of building blocks, ensuring the program remains competitive.    

Boasting a sparkling Goals Against Average of 1.17 and a solid .945 save percentage, Jones gained the start for Newfoundland United in the gold medal game at Nationals. Challenging the defending national champion Ottawa Capitals, Jones assembled a valiant effort. Facing 38 shots, although the Capitals emerged victorious in a 3-1 final, the display of poise from Jones demonstrated that an elusive championship may be part of the near future.

“The tournament was a great experience. To see the future of my competition, hopefully for a long time to come, is very exciting. I always love new challenges to better myself and my game, but I also love making new friends.

I went to make friends, and I came back with family. I greatly admire and have so much respect for everyone on the United team. I have so much to learn, and this was the ideal environment to grow. I am in awe of how kind and supportive everyone was.

They invited me completely into their fold. I am very young, and to have such great experience that athletes support me means as much as any award or acknowledgment. This tournament raised the bar for me and inspired me to work harder to meet the expectations of my sports community.

The fact that I got the opportunity to compete against good friends in a very competitive league never fails to make me smile. Ball hockey truly finds ways to forge strong friendships and memories.”

“All quotes obtained first hand unless otherwise indicated”

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