After four years in the Oswego State men’s ice hockey locker room as a player, former Laker goalie Dan Jones will return to the Campus Center Ice Arena this evening on the opposite side of the ice as a member of the SUNY Cortland coaching staff. .
As a Laker goalie starts were hard to come by playing behind two All-American netminders, the likes of Paul Beckwith (Class of 2012) and Andrew Hare (Class of 2013). In his four years on the shores of Lake Ontario, Jones appeared in nine games, championing an 8-1-0 record. The Richmond Hill, Ontario native had a career goals against average of 1.65 goals per game and pitched one career shutout.
Jones graduated from Oswego State in May 2013 with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and following his studies here, it was Jones’ plan to pursue his master’s degree in exercise science. What drew him to SUNY Cortland was an opportunity he had been interested in since his freshman year at Oswego State, coaching hockey.
Jones and Oswego State men’s ice hockey head coach Ed Gosek got in touch with SUNY Cortland’s head coach Joe Baldarotta about Jones about joining the staff and it seemed like a perfect fit until the Red Dragons made headlines in the SUNYAC with a late summer coaching change. Baldarotta ended up retiring in August and current head coach Tom Cranfield took over the program. Luckily for Jones, Cranfield was still interested in bringing him on the staff.
“I was pretty lucky. I started talking with the coach at Cortland, Coach Baldarotta, last summer and trying to get a position on the coaching staff,” Jones said. “When I found out he was retiring I was a little unsure what was happening, but I got in touch with Coach Cranfield, who is the interim coach here to get a spot on the coaching staff. I think it ended up working in my favor because, with a new coach, he was looking for new coaches and new ideas, so it was a great opportunity for me.”
Gosek was there to help when Jones was looking to help out at SUNY Cortland and sees a bright future for his former player in coaching or any profession he chooses.
“He’s always been an insightful man. I think coaching is in his blood,” Gosek said. “Some job or some profession in which he will stay involved in the game or helping people by sharing his experiences using his ability to help others. I think it’s great what he’s doing at Cortland.”
At SUNY Cortland, Jones sees himself as the second assistant, behind Joe Cardarelli. Being a former goalie he plays a big role in working with the team’s netminder, holding sessions with them twice a week.
One former teammate who can speak to Jones’s abilities as a mentor for goalies is current Laker sophomore Justin Gilbert. Gilbert spent last season with Jones as they both played behind Hare.
“A lot of what he helped me with was mental. Neither of us really played last year, so he helped me stay focused and ready to go out in net,” Gilbert said. “I think he can be a tremendous asset to that organization, especially as a player’s kind of coach. He’s the kind of guy players can always feel comfortable talking to.”
Another area where he makes a big impact is in changing the culture of the team, especially its mentality. Coach Cranfield inherited a veteran group, which has not made the postseason in its three seasons at SUNY Cortland. Coming from Oswego State, Jones had a lot of success in his four years and brings a winning mentality to the Red Dragons that he thinks they need.
“Being a sports psychology guy, I know how important it is to have that mentality of winning games, bringing that positive aspect and just trying to change the culture around here,” Jones said. “That’s a big part of what we’re trying to do and that’s a big part of my role here, changing the culture.” Fresh out of my playing experience I can really relate to the players here.”
Turning focus to his return to Oswego tonight, Jones is happy with his time at Oswego State and also understands, while he is becoming comfortable with the SUNY Cortland players, the lack of familiar faces on the Oswego State bench will help with the emotions of coming back into the Campus Center tonight. Jones was one of 14 Laker seniors on last season’s team.
“It helps that a lot of the Oswego guys are news faces. “I think it would be a lot tougher if to leave and see that team again, if I was the only one to leave and then see that team again,” Jones said. “But having a whole new team and only nine returner guys, some are my best friends, so obviously it is tough and it’s tough not being a part of it but at the same time I had my four years there and I’m happy with that and I’m content with that.”
One member of this year’s team that was close with Jones was his former roommate, senior captain David Titanic.
“It’s weird seeing him in red. I don’t think it suits him, but that’s just my opinion,” Titanic said. “It’ll be weird seeing him on the other side. We went through it all together and I had a great three years with him. It’s going to be different seeing him over there, but it doesn’t change the experience we had together.”
The reunion game is tonight at 7 p.m. in the Campus Center Ice Arena.