SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – It’s hard to describe just how important having experience at the next level has been for Carson Jones in his brief time with the North Iowa Bulls. The Eden Prairie, Minnesota native has played a full season in the North American Hockey League and been watched by countless Division I and professional scouts. He’s seen the game through a lens where things happen a little faster, and the hits come a little harder.
Next season, he’ll be heading back to the NAHL, after signing a tender with the Springfield Jr. Blues, his former team where he spent 49 games last season. Jones signed his tender immediately after the Bulls’ overtime loss to the Rochester Grizzlies on Saturday, and his agreement was finalized early this week.
“When we found out Springfield was going to go dark this year, we immediately thought of Carson Jones, if he didn’t find a North American Hockey League team,” said North Iowa head coach Todd Sanden. “Being a tender of ours in the past, he’s a guy that we have a lot of interest in, and with this year being what it is, there are a lot of really good hockey players who are struggling to find a home. We are so excited and blessed that he decided to come here and jump on board with us.”
Jones posted solid numbers in his first season of junior hockey, notching eight points and eight assists for the Jr. Blues in those 49 games. Since joining the North Iowa roster at the beginning of November, the forward has continued to impress, notching seven points in his first five outings. The first of those came just 12 minutes into his North Iowa debut, in a 6-3 win over Willmar on November 6.
He made his mark as a member of the Eden Prairie High School Eagles, with 31 career points, and as a member of the North American Prospects Hockey League’s Minnesota Blizzard. Now, the next question to answer is whether he can help the Bulls bring the Fraser Cup back to North Iowa. Jones will also continue his quest toward the next level of the sport, and could eventually become the next member of his family to land an NCAA Division I scholarship. Younger sister Maya announced her commitment to Division I Union College in New York last year, and is expected to join the Dutchmen roster next season.
Springfield is taking this season off due to ongoing COVID-related restrictions in the state of Illinois that would have forced this year’s team to play without fans at the Nelson Center. Instead, the Jr. Blues and head coach Tyler Rennette are focusing on building for their future, announcing seven tender signings last week. Two of those tenders, Coby Weber and Matt Smith, come from the Carshield program that faced Jones and the Bulls in an exhibition game this past Friday.
“We’re not at all surprised that Coach Rennette tendered him for the following year, based on his leadership capabilities, his effort, and his compete level,” said Sanden. “He’s one of our highest compete-level guys every night.”
A tender is a contract, of sorts, that a player signs announcing his intentions to play for that particular NAHL team and that NAHL team only. Once a player signs a tender with an NAHL team, his playing rights belong to that team within the NAHL and he may not be recruited by any other NAHL team. Each team is granted 10 tenders – plus or minus any trades – which became active on Nov. 1. Tendered players for the 2021-22 season are not eligible for the NAHL draft, which will take place next summer.
The North Iowa Bulls congratulate Carson Jones on his tender signing to rejoin the NAHL’s Springfield Jr. Blues, and wish him continued success in his junior hockey career.