- Created: 26 August 2017
The Eugene Generals are proud to announce the return of forward Jack Thornton for the 2017-18 season.
Thornton is the team’s fifteenth announced signing of the current offseason. He joins forwards William Wallace, Blaine Krona, Nathan Leach, Griffin Minchin, Broc Friesen, Bradley Maddox, Dillon Foster, Alex Clark and Frazier Mohler; defensemen Dayne Cole, Jackson Baughman and Dakota Henn; and goaltenders Sean Leonard and Christopher Alexakis.
Last season, his second with the Generals, Thornton tallied 8 goals and 11 assists for 19 overall points in 39 regular season games.
A native of Eugene, Thornton becomes the third local product to sign with the team for the upcoming season, joining Broc Friesen and Griffin Minchin.
With the addition of Thornton, the Generals roster now includes at least three players from the Eugene/Springfield area for the first time since the 2011-12 season (Connor Hoernlein, Justin Huelsman, and Justin Stoner). Playing in front of one's hometown is an opportunity that few hockey players have, and that is something that Thornton does not take for granted.
“Being a local kid just makes me think about the duty that I have to be a role model,” said Thornton. “I need to step up and take a little more responsibility. I’m very lucky that I have been able to grow up and play good hockey in my hometown.”
“We have these young kids in Broc and Griffin that can really do something if they put the right work in, and the fact that we’re all playing on the Gens together is a sign that Eugene is coming up and coming along with its youth hockey program.”
The hard work and dedication that Thornton has put in to get to this point hasn’t gone unnoticed by Head Coach Justin Kern, and Thornton’s tireless effort has even earned him a nickname that has stuck for good.
“Over the last couple of years, Jack has earned the nickname of ‘Super Joe,’” says Kern with a laugh, “and he’s done that by working his butt off every single year. He started off as a practice player, kept working and kept making significant strides, and now this year he’s going to be one of the more senior guys on the team.”
“The important thing that I’ve seen out of him is the leadership abilities that have really emerged within him. I think that he really wants to be that guy to lead this team to do great things. He showed it in camp when he took new guys under his wing, led workouts and warm-ups, and answered any questions that the new guys had.”
Thornton (above) will be asked by coaches and teammates alike to take on a new, more challenging role as he enters his third year with the Generals
Now, as he prepares to enter his third season with the Generals, Thornton will be leaned on heavily as a force for leadership and inspiration, something both he and Coach Kern feel that he is ready for.
“Walking into the team as a young player made me really think about where I am in the grand spectrum of things,” said Thornton. “It was an eye-opening experience that really opened my heart up to hockey. Once I actually started playing with the Generals, it was a whole new experience with a great group of guys, and that made me grow all around as a hockey player and as a person.”
“Last year, when I stepped into the role of being a veteran, I started to understand the responsibility that comes with it. It has been a lot of fun climbing up the ladder and still being with the Generals as I’m able to continue growing as a hockey player.”
“I think he’ll have a tremendous year leadership-wise, but I’m also expecting Jack to have a pretty big breakout year,” added Kern. “He’s been working out to increase both his skill and his strength, and the results are really showing. He’s already seen some of the fruits of his labor, but I think this is the year where everything is going to click for him and he’ll be able to reap the benefits on the ice.”