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Walton Grad Heats Up Pro Ice

Doug Jones scores three goals in five games to start his pro hockey career with the Gwinnett Gladiators.

This article has been updated to reflect corrected information about Doug Jones and the Gladiators' playoff roster.

grad Doug Jones was in position to get his first taste of professional playoff hockey when the Gwinnett Gladiators traveled to Charleston to play the South Carolina Stingrays on Tuesday night.

The opening game of the minor-league ECHL’s Kelly Cup playoffs came only two weeks after the hockey forward left his senior year at Dartmouth to sign with the Gladiators.

Jones, 24, told The Dartmouth newspaper it’s nice to be back in Georgia and even better to be back with his family and friends.

The East Cobb resident and Connecticut native scored 29 goals and had 78 assists in 127 games over four years at Dartmouth, including 11 goals and 14 assists in 31 games as the leading scorer and assistant captain this year, the Gladiators said in announcing Jones’ signing March 20.

Dartmouth has a slide show of his time with the Big Green.

The son of Barry and Leslie Jones attended Walton for his senior year, then took a detour before Dartmouth, spending two years with the U.S. Hockey League’s Cedar Rapids (IA) RoughRiders after high school.

Now he hopes the Gladiators are a step toward the National Hockey League. Gwinnett is affiliated with the NHL’s Phoenix Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres.

I have always had the mentality of moving on to the next level,” Jones told The Dartmouth. “When I was in prep school, my goal was to play at the junior level. In juniors, it was to play college. And in college, I wanted to play professionally.”

Jones signed in time for the final five games of the regular season for the Gladiators, who finished first in the South Division and second in the Eastern Conference.

He had an immediate impact, scoring three goals and getting an assist.

His first professional goal came in his first game, a 3-2 shootout win at Greenville on March 23. He scored during a power play in the second period to start the Gwinnett’s comeback from a 2-0 deficit; Jones took five of the team’s 33 shots in the game.

Jones took four more shots the next night in another 3-2 win at Greenville, and he got his first pro assist late in the first period.

Goal No. 2 for Jones came on one of his three shots Wednesday in a 2-0 road win over Florida. He was rated the No. 2 star of the game, which clinched the division title for the Gladiators.

He was shut out despite taking five shots Friday in a 5-3 loss at Florida, but he had another milestone that night: his first two-minute penalty, for unsportsmanlike conduct midway through the third period.

He scored his third goal in the regular-season finale, a 5-2 loss at Florida on Saturday.

Every Gwinnett game for Jones has been on the road, and that would have continued with the Stingrays hosting the first two games of the best-of-five playoff series Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Instead, Jones skipped the playoffs to finish his senior year at Dartmouth.

Game 3 is Friday night at 7:05 at the Arena at Gwinnett Center. If necessary, Gwinnett also will have home games Sunday at 2:05 p.m. and Monday at 7:05 p.m.

The Gladiators have special playoff ticket packages in addition to single-game tickets.

Correction: Doug Jones decided to finish his senior year after his extended spring break with the Gladiators rather than participate in the playoffs. This article has been updated to reflect that decision, which also is .

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