BRYAN WILSON – 11.23.2023

First, focus on the details.

That has become a mantra of sorts for Ben Jones, who has always been a proponent of playing the right way without the puck, to generate more chances with it.

The approach is working.

Jones currently leads the Wranglers in scoring with 15 points (6g, 9a) in 16 games.

Last season, he led the AHL in plus/minus amongst forwards with a plus-28 rating and has picked up where he left off in that regard, with a plus-10 rating so far.

“It’s something I’ve always focused on in my career; being good on the defensive side first,” explained Jones. “I’ve said it before, I don’t really get too focused on points, so if I’m contributing, that’s a good thing. But it’s an accumulation of the all the small details I try to do well to be a better pro, which can help me get to the next level.”

With the recent surge of Wranglers players currently making waves at the NHL level – Connor Zary, Martin Pospisil and Nick DeSimone are currently up and playing big minutes with the Flames – it has served as extra motivation for Jones and his fellow teammates, who now have a road map for what they need to do, and how they need to play, to potentially make the jump one day, too.

“For those guys it’s exciting to see,” said Jones. “I know a lot of us tune in pretty much every night and we’re all happy for them, they seem to be on the scoresheet every night right now, so it’s great for them.

“For everyone down here it’s a big confidence boost that you know there is a chance to get called up and, not just go up but contribute and play well, and even stick around. So, that mindset and that energy is what we need to focus on every day.”

In the meantime, Jones and the Wranglers are rolling out of the gates, with an 11-2-1 record which leads the Pacific Division, and has them sitting a point out of top spot in the AHL standings with 23 points.

The 2023-24 roster may look familiar, albeit a little different than the one that captured the MacGregor Kilpatrick Trophy last season (awarded to the team with the most regular-season points), but the one thing that has remained consistent this season – which is perhaps the most important carryover – is the Wranglers’ identity and pre-established winning culture.

“I think so,” agreed Jones. “Obviously, we have some new guys, and with injuries and callups we’ve got a different look, but for everyone who’s come in, they’ve done great, played hard and adopted that winning culture.

“Our captain, Brett Sutter, especially, is the guy who leads the charge every night and his attitude and his energy are what has brought through that winning culture and has resulted in what we’ve done so far.”