In athletics, there are a number of ways to describe a tough player.
They can be either mentally or physically tough. Tough can describe someone who fought through an injury and played hard despite being hurt.
Playing injured is something women’s hockey player Jess Jones has had to deal with a lot over the last two seasons.
Jones, a senior from Picton, Ontario, has played with a torn ACL in both of her knees. She has been the epitome of tough.
She first tore her ACL during the Frozen Four her sophomore year, but she didn’t miss a game.
“I just wanted to play, and I still felt I could do my job on the ice,” Jones said.
She rehabbed her injury over the summer to get back for her junior season. But in January, she tore her other ACL.
Overall, Jones only missed six games despite the severity of her knee injuries. The injuries are the main reason why last season was a rough year for Jones.
Jones began her college career by being named to the College Hockey America (CHA) All-Rookie team and All-Tournament team. She was fourth on the team in goals scored and contributed 34 points overall.
She followed up with an outstanding sophomore season. She improved on both her goals and assists totals, scoring a point in 26 of the 36 she played. To this point in her career, she hadn’t missed a game.
After finishing her sophomore season with her first injury, Jones took a step back her junior year.
Playing in 29 games, Jones posted 26 points in what was a forgettable junior season.
“Mentally, it was really tough. You think you can do so much more than you actually can,” Jones said.
This season, Jones was named an assistant captain and has not missed a game. She has been a steady leader for the No. 5 Lakers. Currently, she is tied for 13th in the nation in points with 38 and averages 1.58 points a game.
“This season is going really well, I’ve been getting a lot of opportunities on the ice,” Jones said.
After going through the injuries, Jones did find some positives from her junior year.
“The whole experience taught me to play smarter, because I couldn’t do certain things that I used to,” Jones said.
Jones and line-mate Kelley Steadman have provided a steady dose of offense for the Lakers this season.
“This season is huge for me because I’ve overcome a lot,” Jones said. “I proved to myself that I can play at a high level.”
With Jones back at full speed, the Lakers are in position to earn yet another NCAA tournament berth.
“We always have high hopes for this team, and this year isn’t any different,” Jones said. “We all work hard and we’ve had our ups and downs, but we will get through it.”
Jones and the Lakers will return to the ice Friday, Feb. 3, for a home-and-home series against conference-foe Niagara.
Saturday, Feb. 4, will be the 2012 National Girls and Women in Sports Day, with girls grades K-12 receiving free admission to the game. There will be pregame festivities starting at 6 p.m. and the game will start at 7 p.m.