Second Wildcat goes pro after season: Jones seizes opportunity to play in the National Lacrosse League

Cody Boyer

With one Wildcat potentially heading toward a career with the NHL, another member of the Northern Michigan University hockey team is gearing up for a summer away from Green and Gold ice.

Following the conclusion of the team’s involvement in the CCHA at the end of the 2012-13 season, sophomore defenseman Mitch Jones began playing for the Washington Stealth, a professional lacrosse team that is part of National Lacrosse League (NLL). Jones first played with the team on Saturday, March 16 following his selection in the fall.

Jones said his first appearance with the team helped to solidify his choice of maintaining two sports that take place in two different types of arenas.

“We lost to Minnesota in my debut, but it was a good learning experience for me,” Jones said. “I had limited shifts, but was able to get used to the speed and talent level in the league. I am looking to make a bigger impact now that I am more comfortable in Washington this weekend.”

Previously, the 21-year-old British Columbia native finished three years of playing junior lacrosse in Orangeville, Ontario when he was selected in the 2012 draft, No. 21 overall.

Jones said he signed a deal with the Stealth, but that will not stop him from competing next season with the Wildcat hockey team as they enter their first year in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association (WCHA).

“All of the best lacrosse players in the world play in the NLL,” Jones said. “Washington signed me to a contract, agreeing to wait until my college hockey season was over for me to be able to play.”

Jones said he will be able to effectively play for the team due to their schedule and the ability to travel to the games on the weekends.

“The league has all games scheduled on weekends partly because the majority of the guys have other jobs,” Jones said. “That works well with my school and allows me to fly out on weekends to play in the games.”

With the Stealth having upcoming games on Saturday, April 6, Saturday, April 13 and Saturday, April 20, Jones has the chance to appear in five games during the NLL regular season. Jones will also have the opportunity to make an appearance in the NLL postseason, depending on the Stealth’s performance.

Jones said the coaching staff with the NMU hockey team has been nothing but supportive of his lacrosse endeavors.

“I have been playing both sports since I was about five years old and I am lucky enough to be able to continue doing that,” Jones said. “Coach Walt Kyle has been a huge help in supporting me and allowing me to do this, as well as the Washington organization being patient and supportive of my school athletics. They have played big roles in helping me reach my goals.”

The Washington Stealth lost to the Minnesota Swarm on Saturday, March 16 at Saint Paul, Minn., falling with a final score of 12-5. The team fell to 7-5 on the season and hold a half-game lead in the West NLL conference. Jones contributed an assist for the Stealth and two shots on goal.

According to the Washington Stealth’s website, head coach Chris Hall said Jones had a decent start with the team.

“I thought he was fine,” Hall said. “He didn’t get a ton of shifts, but he got his feet wet. He looked like he fit just fine.”

The Stealth are set to take on the Calgary Roughnecks at 6:45 p.m. on Saturday, March 30 in Everett, Wash.

Jones said he looks forward to continuing to play in each sport as he works towards completing his education at NMU.

“After my career at NMU, I hope to have both options open,” Jones said. “I love playing both sports and they have each given me multiple opportunities thus far, so hopefully that continues.”