MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Carson Jones’s stop in Mason City was an unusual one…but then again, so was almost everything surrounding the 2020-21 season.
His move to the North American 3 Hockey League came about due to an unfortunate circumstance for his North American Hockey League team, and his final junior season was highlighted by a return to the NAHL and four games against his old team, stocked with a brand-new group of players.
In North Iowa, he’ll always be remembered as a cornerstone of the organization’s most recent Tier III national championship squad. Now, he’s also known as a Raider-to-be, after committing to the hockey program at the Milwaukee School of Engineering, an NCAA Division III institution and member of the Northern Collegiate Hockey Association.
Jones made his move into junior hockey following an impressive prep career at Eden Prairie High School in Minnesota, posting 31 points over two varsity seasons. He would lead the Eagles to an appearance in the 2019 Minnesota state title game, posting the game-winner for Eden Prairie in the semifinal round before a one-goal loss to Edina in the state finals.
He enjoyed a solid season with the Springfield Jr. Blues in 2019-20, notching 16 points in 49 games, earning a regular spot in the Jr. Blues’ lineup prior to the COVID-induced cancellation of the remainder of the season in mid-March.
However, returning to the Jr. Blues for 2020-21 would not be an option – faced with the task of playing without fans due to COVID-related restrictions in Illinois on crowds and gatherings, the Springfield organization was forced to go dark for the season and reload for 2021-22. North Iowa Bulls head coach & general manager Todd Sanden had a spot available on the team, and Jones was just the man to fill it.
“When we found out Springfield was going to go dark, we immediately thought of Carson, if he didn’t find a North American Hockey League team,” said Sanden during the 2020-21 campaign. “Being a tender of ours in the past, he’s a guy that we [had] a lot of interest in, and with [2020-21] being what it [was], there are a lot of really good hockey players who [were] struggling to find a home. We are so excited and blessed that he decided to come here and jump on board with us.”
Jones didn’t wait long to get in on the action, scoring just 12 minutes into his North Iowa debut in a 6-3 win over the Willmar WarHawks in early November. He notched goals in four of his first seven games as a Bull, and posted points in 13 games of a 14-game stretch in January and February, earning the NA3HL’s Forward of the Month award for his torrid play in February.
After tying for the West Division lead with 41 points, he racked up seven more points in the playoffs, six of which came in the team’s four-game run at the Fraser Cup championship tournament. He scored at least one point in every game of the tournament, including the game-winning goal in overtime to knock off the Sheridan Hawks in the Bulls’ tournament opener. The eventual West Division Forward of the Year honoree was named to the Fraser Cup All-Tournament Team for his efforts, and was later named First Team All-NA3HL as well.
Jones returned to the NAHL and the Jr. Blues for this season, signing a tender with Springfield in November prior to the Bulls’ announcement of their move to the NAHL. He picked up right where he left off at the end of 2019-20, notching 44 points in 58 games and leading the Jr. Blues to within a point of a Midwest Division regular-season title. He would eclipse both the 100-point and 100-game career milestones during the 2021-22 campaign.
Now, he joins a Milwaukee School of Engineering team coming off of its first 11-win season in four years, and best conference record since 2017 under fourth-year head coach Graham Johnson. He becomes the first player ever to land at MSOE after suiting up in the River City.
The North Iowa Bulls and Mason City Toros congratulate Carson Jones on his commitment to the Milwaukee School of Engineering, and wish him continued success in the next stage of his academic and athletic career.