For a season that nearly never happened, Jonny Evans sure made the most of it.
The 24-year-old became the first player in the history of the University of Connecticut men’s hockey program to earn Division One All-American status.
The junior forward was also named team MVP after leading the Huskies in scoring with 29 points, including 14 goals in 23 games. He was nominated for the Hobey Baker Award, presented to the top player in NCAA men’s hockey.
The North Delta Minor Hockey product and Delta Hockey Academy alumni headed back east last fall not knowing what to expect due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All classes were done online for the entire school year, but there was hope some form of a hockey season could still take place after the pandemic resulted in a premature end to the 2019/20 campaign.
“It honestly was crazy. We had a bad ending to my sophomore year when COVID ruined it. All the guys were kind of upset and we parted ways with an extended summer at home,” said Evans. “I stayed home as long as could but I wanted get out there to train and skate even if there was no season. It was an opportunity train with (UConn strength and conditioning coach) Moe (Butler) because she is great to work with and I can also be on ice whenever I want.”
The Hockey East Conference schedule finally proceeded in late November and Evans would go on to produce his historic season. It was a 10-point improvement on his sophomore campaign even though he played four less games.
“I focused on wanting to be more consistent. My (past) numbers are pretty good but I would get them in streaks. One weekend on then off for a couple of weekends. I wanted to change that about my game and be more consistent.
“It started with off-ice training. I wanted to get stronger and in a little bit better shape. Then I got my confidence up through my teammates and a little bit of self-belief too. I believed I could play with pretty much anyone now which was a real good feeling and my linemates definitely helped me too.”
Evans is now looking forward to a fulsome senior year. Students will return to the campus next fall and the Huskies’ home arena will be open to full capacity.
“I’m pretty excited. Everything is opening up again and it’s going allow us to have a full year,” added Evans. “We are going to have a big season class and we want to do something special before we all part our ways.
“We had a few fans in the stands for our home games at the end of the year, but it’s probably going to be shocking at first to see all of them back.”
Evans came through North Delta Minor then enjoyed a productive season with DHA’s U18 Prep team that led to call-up opportunities with the Pacific Junior Hockey League’s Delta Ice Hawks and the BC Hockey League Powell River Kings.
He became a full-time BCHL player the following season and would enjoy a four-year stint with the Kings that included a 36-goal and 78-point campaign in 2016/17. He accepted a scholarship offer from UConn, following Carter Turnbull, his Powell River teammate and good friend.