The 2016-17 season was a special one for the Brampton Thunder. The Ontario community had no idea at the time that it would be the final year for the club, which would move to Markham for the 2017-18 campaign.
For that reason alone, it was a memorable season. What made it more remarkable was that forward Jess Jones finished the year tied for the league lead in scoring. Her 37 points equalled that of international superstar Marie Philip-Poulin. Jones was the only player in the top five that did not play for powerhouses Montreal or Calgary. Her accomplishment marked the first time since Jayna Hefford in 2008-09 that a Brampton player won the Angela James Bowl.
Jones remembers the season fondly. “The thing I remember most about that season was the team - the girls,” she said in an interview with The Ice Garden. “We had a really tight group that year! We were a very hard working team with a lot of skill. The best part about that team was we always had fun.”
After winning only three of the first 14 games, the Thunder had to be tight. The team leaned heavily on Jones, who did not let them down. She accounted for 17 of the club’s 76 goals (22 percent) and her 37 points accounted for 43 percent of the teams total scoring. It was an incredible contribution from the veteran. The performance earned Jones her first CWHL All-Star bid. “[One] game that stood out most to me was the All-Star Game at the ACC. I was able to share the ice with the league’s best and I was fortunate enough to score a hat trick...having all my friends and family there to watch was really special.”
Jones says she will always remember the home games that season and the way the Brampton fans supported the team. Oddly enough, the Thunder faired better on the road, winning only five of 11 at Memorial Arena. Seven of the team’s 12 wins were in enemy territory.
The Thunder persevered, due in large part to Jones’ hot hand. Her success helped propel the Thunder to a third place finish, as they surpassed provincial rivals, the Toronto Furies — an incredible turnaround. Looking back, Jones remembers the connection she made with her teammates in the historic season.
“My last year as a Brampton Thunder will definitely be something I will cherish forever. I had the best season of my career and it couldn’t have been done without my teammates. We had a really special group that year and we made the best of it.”